back to top

MPs Demand New Fancy Dress Safety Rules After Claudia Winkleman's Daughter Injured

Politicians have warned of a rise in the number of children being taken to hospital after their costumes go up in flames.

Posted on

Although kids' fancy dress costumes have to pass a "flammability test", this is designed for toys that burn a lot slower. BBC's Watchdog last month showed how fast a costume can go up in flames despite passing this test.

Winkleman's 8-year-old daughter, Matilda, suffered serious burns last Halloween, when her supermarket-bought witch's costume brushed against a candle. The presenter of Strictly Come Dancing told the BBC: "We couldn't put her out. Her tights had melted into her skin.

"She went up, is the only way I know how to describe it. It was a spark and she screamed out for me. It was like those horrific birthday candles that you blow out and then they come back ... It was really fast, it wasn't fire like I'd seen."


Her early day motion, so far backed by five fellow Labour MPs, "notes with concern that, at present, children's fancy dress costumes are classified as toys and, as such, are not necessarily fire-proofed or retardant".

It points out that "the number of children admitted to hospital with injuries resulting from a fancy dress costume catching alight is increasing", and "further notes that this could be prevented by simply changing the classification of fancy dress clothing from toys to clothes".

The MPs call on the government "to review classification criteria urgently to ensure that fancy dress clothing is properly classified and undergoes proper flammability testing to promote safety for children and adults alike".

She told BuzzFeed News: "I decided to table it after seeing the Watchdog programme with Claudia Winkleman telling how her daughter was engulfed in flames.

"I have four grandchildren aged five, four, two and two. The three eldest are girls who seem to spend most weekends dressed as Elsa from Frozen or Cinderella as they go to birthday parties.

"It made me realise that fancy dress and birthday candles are high-risk and I wanted to do something about it. I understand that these costumes are for play, but a play item that is worn should have the same fire standard as clothing."

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition on the issue.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills told BuzzFeed News: "This is a serious issue and we are taking a close look at the safety frameworks around children's fancy dress costumes.

"As part of this work, officials from the department will be meeting with a range of interested parties to discuss their concerns. We are also working closely with Trading Standards to investigate compliance with current fancy dress safety regulation."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.