Monday 18 December 2017

Grenfell tower inquiry ready to examine why safety warnings were ignored

Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building. Photo: PA
Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building. Photo: PA

Jack Hardy in London

The Grenfell Tower inquiry is prepared to consider "broad" issues including why residents' concerns about fire safety were allegedly ignored by authorities, a source has said.

Martin Moore-Bick previously indicated his investigation would be limited to the causes of the deadly fire, why it spread so quickly and how it could be prevented in future.

Survivors have suggested they were prepared to abandon the process unless the parameters were broadened to consider systemic issues.

A source said the former Court of Appeal judge was looking to scrutinise issues traced back to building regulations at the time the block was erected.

"He is very happy to look at why there were warnings that weren't listened to, these were the allegations," the source said.

It is understood the inquiry into the blaze, which killed at least 80 people, will be a "broad interpretation of what caused the fire", which extends beyond the "physics of what happened".

While it will not look at building regulations on a national scale, it is likely to examine what restrictions were in place when Grenfell Tower was built in the early 1970s. The warnings about safety and the construction and refurbishment of the tower are believed to be considered by Mr Moore-Bick to fall within his remit.

As the blaze was not brought under control for more than a day, it is also likely to consider the response of authorities, the source added.

A three-week consultation is under way with parties likely to play a role in the inquiry, including victims' families and survivors.

Justice 4 Grenfell, which has been representing survivors, cited concerns on Sunday about the scope of the probe, adding: "The whole thing needs to start again."

Mr Moore-Bick stoked controversy when he emerged from a meeting with survivors to say he was "doubtful" the inquiry would be broad enough to satisfy them all.

Sue Caro, a co-ordinator for Justice 4 Grenfell, told the Press Association: "His comments revealed the remit he had been given was the cause of the fire and why it spread so quickly and ensuring it didn't happen again. Well, that is not good enough.

"We met with one of the public inquiry team last week on Friday and he told us they would start consultation from tomorrow for three weeks.

"However, we don't know if that is going to be an exercise, whether it will be meaningful, whether, having done three weeks of consultation, the remit remains exactly the same, we won't know.

"Our view is the whole thing needs to start again - there is no confidence in the process.

"He has already said he doesn't think it is going to satisfy what residents want. Why set up an inquiry that you know is not going to do what is required before you've even started?

"People who have had the most awful experience ever are not really inclined to keep giving the government the benefit of the doubt."

Irish Independent

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