We are currently instructed in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, which is examining the catastrophic fire which claimed 72 lives and injured many others in June 2017.
The then Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower on 15 June 2017, the day after the fire. The Inquiry was officially opened in September 2017 and is now in its second phase.
The first phase of the Inquiry examined the events of the night of the fire and saw evidence from survivors, bereaved family members, members of the emergency services and others. Phase 1 investigated how the fire started, how it spread and the way the emergency services responded to the fire. Hearings in Phase 1 of the Inquiry started on 21 May 2018 and concluded on 12 December 2018. The Inquiry published its report, written by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, into the Phase 1 evidence on 30 October 2019. In addition to a detailed account of the events of 14 June 2017, the report contained criticisms of a number of actors, including the London Fire Brigade. The report also made several recommendations directed at Central Government.
Phase 2 of the Inquiry began in February 2020 and will examine the events leading up to the fire and will consider issues such as the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower between 2012-2016, the cladding testing and regulatory regimes and the role of central and local government. For a full list of issues that the Inquiry is considering, please see here. The order of the Phase 2 hearings has been split into eight different “modules” (list of modules here).
The Inquiry began Module 1 hearings in February 2020, but they were initially mired by controversy. Not long before the hearings were due to commence, one of the two panel members appointed to assist the Chairman with the second phase of the Inquiry resigned after she was linked to the charitable arm of Arconic, the firm which manufactured and supplied the cladding used on Grenfell Tower.
After the opening submissions in Module 1 and only a week after they had commenced, the hearings were delayed due to an application submitted on behalf of some of the corporate core participants seeking an undertaking from the Attorney General that anything individual witnesses say during the course of the Inquiry could not be used in future criminal proceedings against them. On 26 February 2020, the Attorney General decided to provide the undertaking sought.
After resuming hearings, the Inquiry heard evidence from Studio E, the architects involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower between 2012-2016. The Inquiry also began hearing the start of the evidence of Exova, the fire safety consultant involved in the refurbishment, but the hearings were then suspended until further notice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.