Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Module 8 concludes
Module 8 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (the “Inquiry”) concluded yesterday. There was a 72 second silence in which the 72 names of those who died in the fire were read, accompanied by their pictures.
What was Module 8?
The Inquiry was initially split into two “Phases”. The first Phase looked into the events on the night of the fire and the firefighting response. The second Phase has investigated the causes of the fire and the events that led up to that fateful night. Given the extensive scope of the Inquiry’s second Phase, it was spilt into the following 8 “Modules”.
- The primary refurbishment
- The cladding products – testing/certification, product marketing/promotion.
- Fire safety measures in Grenfell Tower prior 14 June 2017. Residents’ complaints and communication with residents.
- The immediate aftermath of the fire.
- The adequacy of London Fire Brigade policies, guidance and training prior to the fire.
- The local and central Government response to previous warnings about fire safety.
- Evidence relation to the deceased.
The Module 8 hearings have lasted roughly 3 weeks and included presentations of evidence concerning those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire, made by the representatives of the families of those who died. In addition, the Inquiry heard evidence from the following expert witnesses:
- Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl, lead forensic pathologist, gave evidence about the processes of identifying the individual causes of death.
- Professor David Purser gave evidence in relation to the consequences of inhaling toxic gases on each person who died in the fire and the toxicity when exposed to fire of certain materials which were present at the time of the fire.
- Gaille MacKinnon, one of the lead forensic anthropologists working on the identification of those who died in Grenfell Tower, gave evidence about the process of victim identification.
- Dr Karl Harrison, one of the lead forensic archaeologists working on the recovery of those who died in Grenfell Tower, gave evidence about the process of victim recovery.
Why was Module 8 important?
Module 8 was a particularly important aspect of the Inquiry as it was the vehicle through which the Inquiry sought to perform the functions of a Coroner under section 5 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, namely to ascertain who the deceased was and how, when and where that person came by his or her death, as well as the wider circumstances in which the death occurred. Inquests were initially opened in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, but were adjourned following the establishment of the Inquiry. Phase 1 of the Inquiry established a great detail of the facts regarding the wider circumstances in which those who died in the fire, came to their deaths.
Module 8 was also important because it pulled together all the key evidence about each individual who died in Grenfell Tower in a dignified and humane way. The individual presentations reminded the panel and the wider public of the heartbreaking and horrific stories of the night of the fire and the manner in which the victims’ families have suffered since. Module 8 has also proved a timely reminder of the multiple ways in which vulnerable residents were failed at Grenfell Tower, an issue that has given wider prominence across the country to the plight of vulnerable residents during fires.
In his concluding remarks, Counsel to the Inquiry, Richard Millet QC, said: “There can be nobody whoever had a heart who, hearing those presentations, could remain unmoved and unthinking”. Mr Millet explained how the individual presentations reminded us “that every decision, every act, omission, interpretation, understanding, practice, policy, protocol, affects someone somewhere, someone who is unknown and unseen, but who is an adored child, a beloved sister, a respected uncle, a needed mother”.
What is next for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry?
At the conclusion of the Module 8 hearings, the Chairman of the Inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick explained that the Inquiry team will now be working on the production of their Phase 2 report. Sir Martin said that he was unable to give a deadline for the publication of the report, due to the size of the task. Before the publication of the report, there will also be an opportunity for Core Participants to make overarching concluding submissions. These will take place in November.
Saunders Law represents multiple Bereaved, Survivors and former residents of Grenfell Tower in the Inquiry.