A FURNITURE store director accused of causing a huge gas explosion which devastated a Wirral town and then making a false insurance claim today denied the allegations.

Pascal Blasio appeared in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court and denied causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in New Ferry on Saturday, March 25 last year.

He also denied a charge of fraud involving allegedly making false representation to the National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance company about three days after the explosion saying that his claim for loss and damages was genuine and he was not responsible for the explosion.

The 56-year-old - who now lives in William Street, Rainham, Gillingham, Kent - is listed as the director of Homes In Style Ltd, a furniture store based at the address at the centre of the explosion.

The discount furniture store and a dance studio at the same address - 43 Bebington Road - owned by a separate business - were destroyed.

Two people were severely injured in the explosion, with around 30 others described as "walking wounded".

Contract Natural Gas Limited (CNG), which supplies gas to business customers, is charged with failing to discharge general health and safety duty to a person other than an employee.

Bernard Thorogood, defending the company, entered a not guilty plea to the charge which alleges they had failed to ensure that the redundant live gas service to 43 Bebington Road was disconnected following removing the meter out August 22, 2012.

Blasio and the company are to face trial beginning on January 7 next year.

Following the 40 minute hearing Blasio was further remanded on bail.