Grenfell Tower Inquiry Begins
Grenfell Tower Inquiry Begins
Sir Martin Moore-Bick has opened his investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire, promising answers about a disaster he described as "a tragedy unprecedented in modern times."
Sir Martin said he would start by investigating the cause and spread of the fire itself and any defects in the building that contributed to the disaster in order that other buildings with similar problems might be made safe.
Sir Martin said:
“There is an urgent need to find out what aspects of the building's design and construction played a significant role in enabling the disaster to occur. That is important because, if there are similar defects in other high-rise buildings, steps must be taken quickly to ensure that those who live in them are kept safe."
The second stage of the inquiry will look at how the tower “came to be so seriously exposed to the risk of a disastrous fire.” This will necessitate an investigation into the building’s design, modifications that have taken place over the years, decisions about design and construction and the reasons those decisions were made.
The inquiry will also ask ministers what happened in the wake of recommendations made by the coroner after the Lakanal House fire in south London in 2009 which cost six people, including three children, their lives.
The coroner in the Lakanal House case wrote to the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2013 calling for sprinklers to be fitted to older tower blocks and a comprehensive review of building regulations on fire prevention.
The Grenfell inquiry’s issues list has asked:
“To what extent did any failure to implement any of these recommendations cause or contribute to the manner and speed of the spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower, the extent of the damage and the number of casualties.”
“I shall not shrink from making any findings simply because they may later form the basis of criminal action,” said Sir Martin.
Fire chief: Grenfell must be a turning point on safety
Dany Cotton, commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, has called for the Grenfell Tower fire to become “a turning point” for fire safety laws.
She has called for all high-rise flats to be retrofitted with sprinkler systems, saying: “This can’t be optional, it can’t be a ‘nice to have’, this is something that must happen.”
Ms Cotton said systems should be fitted in residential tower blocks and become mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.
Her comments come as a BBC investigation found that only 2% of social housing tower blocks in the UK have a full sprinkler system.
Grenfell death toll 'may be below 80'
The number of people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire may be a little lower than the previous estimate of 80, police have said.
In a formal briefing, Scotland Yard said it may consider individual as well as corporate manslaughter charges and revealed that it is also investigating eight cases in which people may have fraudulently claimed money following the disaster.
The Yard also revealed the number of organisations under investigation has risen to more than 330, with each organisation having been involved in either the construction, refurbishment or management of the building.
Call for a ‘fundamental rethink’ of social housing
Meanwhile, in a speech at the National Housing Federation conference, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has called for a ‘fundamental rethink’ of social housing in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, suggesting that it would never have happened in a luxury block of flats.
“While I don’t want to pre-judge the findings of the public or police inquiries, it’s clear that in the months and the years before the fire the residents of Grenfell Tower were not listened to . . . Their concerns were ignored or dismissed, as too many people in positions of power see tenants less as people with families and more as problems that needed to be managed,” said Mr Javid.
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