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Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Our work on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

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On 14 June 2017, a dreadful fire swept through Grenfell Tower in North Kensington and at least 72 lives were lost. In addition to the loss of life, over 100 homes were destroyed and, despite politicians’ promises, many of those left homeless continue to face uncertainty.

The Public Inquiry

The local community, the general public and politicians expressed concerns not only about the Grenfell Tower fire, but about fire safety in tower blocks generally, and the Prime Minister set up a Public Inquiry to investigate, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick. His remit includes investigating the local authority and owner, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, their tenant management organisation, the design and construction of Grenfell and refurbishment works, and whether inadequate design, construction and safety provisions made a tragedy on this scale possible.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick said in his opening statement on 14 September 2017 that the fire on 14 June 2017 was “a tragedy unprecedented in modern times” and that he hoped that the Inquiry would eventually provide “a small measure of solace” for the victims and their families. He said that the hearings would provide answers to “the pressing questions of how a disaster of this kind could occur in 21st-century London”.

We act for a group of individuals whose lives have been directly affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire and who have been given ‘core participant’ status in the Public Inquiry.

As of January 2019, 576 individuals had been granted core participant status, together with 20 commercial organisations, 2 trade unions, 7 public bodies and 1 additional organisation.

At its outset, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s work was divided into two phases. The scope of Phase 1 encompassed the events of 14 June 2017 and particularly the emergency services’ response to the disaster. The Inquiry’s Phase 1 evidential hearings began in June 2018, following the period of commemorations for those who lost their lives, and continued until December 2018.

At the conclusion of the Phase 1 evidential hearings, core participants had the opportunity to make submissions on the most salient points arising, and to suggest recommendations which the Chair should make on an urgent and/or interim basis, in light of the evidence heard to date.

The Chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is now reportedly considering those recommendations and submissions, with input from the Inquiry’s team of experts. He is due to provide his Phase 1 report this spring. Documentary evidence relating to Phase 1 continues to be published by the Inquiry in the meantime.

Throughout this year, the Inquiry is releasing to core participants documentary evidence relevant to the ‘Phase 2’ issues, which encompass the construction, refurbishment and management of the Tower, and the aftermath of the fire. We understand that we can expect approximately 200,000 such documents overall. So far, the Inquiry has released to core participants just over one tenth of that total.

The Inquiry will incorporate, in addition to its wider work, an investigation into each individual death caused by the fire to establish who each person was, where and when they died, and in what circumstances they lost their life. The form which that discrete investigation will take is yet to be confirmed but it is anticipated that the evidence required to make the relevant findings will be heard over the course of this year.

It is currently anticipated that the Phase 2 evidential hearings will take place throughout 2020. In December 2018, the Chair confirmed that the Inquiry was intending to secure new premises for those hearings in West London and near to the community affected. Details of that venue are due to be released within the next few weeks and the Inquiry has given assurances that its core participants will be consulted about how best to prepare the venue so as to accommodate their needs during Phase 2.

In May 2018, the Prime Minister confirmed that a panel would be appointed to sit alongside the Chairman for the duration of Phase 2. Unfortunately, despite the Inquiry announcing at the beginning of 2019 that Phase 2 is underway, no further information about any prospective panel members has been provided by Theresa May.

The police investigation

On the 6th March 2019, the Metropolitan Police Service announced that, together with the Crown Prosecution Service, it had decided that the products of the Public Inquiry’s investigation, for example, any findings or reports, would need to be considered by the police as part of the separate criminal investigation.

What this means is that the police and the CPS intend to wait until the very end of the Inquiry process before making decisions about who should be charged and with what criminal offence.

Of course, police investigation into the organisations, individuals and events concerned in the fire must be as thorough as possible, so any prosecutions are by a fair trial, but this latest announcement makes it likely to be at least another 18 months before the families affected and the public see any tangible results of the police investigation.

We are fast approaching the second anniversary of the tragedy and yet for those whose lives were irrevocably altered as a result, the quest for answers and accountability feels far from over.

Those who have the power to deliver real change must remember that justice delayed is justice denied.

Inquiry Solicitors London

We undertake a range of Public Inquiries and Inquests, and are the lead solicitors for nearly 600 of the bereaved Hillsborough families and survivors in their Class Action against South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police. Contact us for more information.

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