Tuesday 12 December 2017

Grenfell Tower inquiry meeting fails to calm anxiety over process after first hearing

Michael Mansfield QC, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Michael Mansfield QC, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Emma Dent Coad MP for Kensington talks with Lee Jasper (right), activist and politician, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Local resident Joe Delaney, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Paul Menacer, Grenfell resident and survivor, criticises Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Sally Wardle and Jack Hardy

Concerns over the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire remain after campaigners and survivors attended its first hearing.

Chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick faced criticism for not taking questions from those affected, while the choice of the Grand Connaught Rooms as a venue for the hearing was branded "tasteless".

Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, described it as a "cold and clinical process".

Speaking outside, she told the Press Association: "There has been huge anxiety about how this would happen.

Paul Menacer, Grenfell resident and survivor, criticises Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Paul Menacer, Grenfell resident and survivor, criticises Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

"A lot of anxiety - and some people have literally come out here today for the first time. They've been stuck, they've been within their community.

"They made a huge effort to come here and then what do we have - it was a very cold, clinical process and then the judge got up and walked out.

"It was very odd, I found it quite strange."

Ms Dent Coad said while she believes Sir Martin will do a "meticulous" job, the inquiry into the blaze would not provide a "full answer" for those affected.

Local resident Joe Delaney, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Local resident Joe Delaney, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

She said: "We are not going to get justice from this. This will come up with some answers, but this is not part of that legal process which will lead to justice."

The Labour MP described the venue - a grand room lit with chandeliers - as "tasteless".

She said: "It was very strange for us to come to a ballroom with glittering chandeliers to start this inquiry.

"I thought it was quite inappropriate and kind of set the tone between the 'us and them' aspect. I don't think that went down very well with a lot of people."

Emma Dent Coad MP for Kensington talks with Lee Jasper (right), activist and politician, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Emma Dent Coad MP for Kensington talks with Lee Jasper (right), activist and politician, after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, at the Connaught Rooms in central London. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Yvette Williams, co-ordinater for Justice for Grenfell, said the hearing had been easy to follow and understand.

But she criticised Sir Martin for failing to appoint a community adviser to the panel's top team and ignoring a question from Michael Mansfield QC, who represents some survivors.

She said: "At the end, to not even give 15 minutes to questions is appalling.

"So I'm hoping that the civil service advisers have gone back to him now and said actually that was a bit of a faux pas."

Press Association

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