THE family of a Bury firefighter - who lost his life on the frontline - has secured £80,000 in damages.

And the relatives of Stephen Hunt, killed in the Paul's Hair World blaze in Manchester city centre, in July 2013, have avoided paying a £141,000 legal bill in relation to the claim.

Mr Hunt, a 38-year-old father-of-two, was on duty when the Oldham Street hair salon caught fire.

An inquest later revealed the likely cause of the incident was two teenage girls smoking outside beforehand. But while a Bolton girl initially faced a manslaughter charge the case was later dropped.

Manchester County Court was told Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) had admitted liability over Mr Hunt's death and agreed to pay 'reasonable costs'.

An agreed settlement of £80,000 was reached between the two parties, at a hearing last May. Later though, lawyers for the fire service contested part of the £334,000 legal bill drawn up by Thompsons Solicitors, acting on behalf of Susan Veevers, Mr Hunt's mother.

The fire service then appealed a costs ruling in her favour by District Judge Harris.

Roger Mallalieu QC, representing GMFRS, said an admission by the fire service of liability was "likely to be highly material" when it came to considering whether the solicitors' attendance at the inquest was necessary.

He told the court it was the "clear and unequivocal position" of GMFRS before the inquest that they would meet any civil claim lodged by the family in full.

Nicholas Bacon QC, representing Mrs Veevers, said the fire service had sought to change tack on the costs issue.

An original claim before the lower court and District Judge Harris argued that all costs in advance and attendance at the inquest should be disallowed, said Mr Bacon.

But the GMFRS was now saying that those costs, save for reasonable enquiries relating to the civil claim, should be barred, he added.

Ruling in favour of Mrs Veevers, Judge Richard Pearce said: "I see no error in the judgment of District Judge Harris sufficient as to justify this court interfering with his judgment.

"On the contrary, he carried out a balancing exercise on the facts of the case and reached a conclusion that lay well within the proper ambit of the exercise of his evaluation of the facts.

"In those circumstances, costs of preparing for and attending the inquest are costs 'of and incidental' to the instant claim and are in principle reasonable and proportionate is a conclusion that he was entitled to reach, and the appeal is dismissed.