A father accused of the manslaughter of six of his children has denied suggestions that he wanted to play the hero by deliberating setting fire to his own home so that he could then rescue his children.

Mick Philpott, 56, is charged with the manslaughter of six of his 17 children after they died in a house fire in Derby in May 2012.

He is charged along with his wife, Mairead, 31, and Paul Mosely, 46, with the manslaughter of the children, who were aged between five and 13. All three defendants deny the charges.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Richard Latham QC accused Philpott of purposely starting the fire at the bottom of the stairs with petrol with the plan of saving the children in an attempt to be perceived as both a "hero and a victim".

Latham said: "Your plan was to go out, rescue your children, and be the hero, wasn't it?"

Philpott replied: "No, I don't see myself as a hero."

When asked why he did not use the fire extinguisher in the kitchen or to get water from the tap, he answered: "The 999 call was my priority."

Not washed for three months

The court also heard how after handing the phone to his wife to make the 999 call, Philpott went outside to get a ladder that had "fortunately" been left in the back yard for the 56-year-old to climb up to rescue his children.

Latham said: "It was a plan, wasn't it? Your plan was to rescue your children and be a hero.

"The ladder was there because that was part of the plan, wasn't it? The plan was light the fire, make the 999 call, rescue them out of the back window. You were going to open the window and get the children out and be a hero and a victim at the same time."

Philpott denied the accusation. "Ladies and gentlemen, I did not light that fire, I did not endanger my children and nor did my wife," he told the court.

The jury had previously heard Philpott say that the reason traces of petrol were found on him after the fire was because he had not washed for three months.

"My kids used to call me a tramp. In the morning, I just used to put water on my head and face and that's it," he said.

The three suspects are accused of starting the fire in an attempt to frame Philpott's mistress, 28-year-old Lisa Willis, who had previously been living at the property with her five children - four of them fathered by Philpott - as part of a custody battle.

Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six and Jayden, five, all died in the fire at their home. The eldest, Duwayne, 13, died three days later in hospital.

The trial continues.