Grenfell fire flat lawyer hits back at 'garbage' reports on his client

The lawyer representing Behailu Kebede, the occupant of the fourth-floor flat in which the Grenfell Tower fire started, says his client has suffered from trauma

The lawyer representing Behailu Kebede, the occupant of the fourth-floor flat in which the Grenfell Tower fire started, says his client has suffered from trauma

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The lawyer representing Behailu Kebede, the occupant of the fourth-floor flat in which the Grenfell Tower fire started, has hit out at the "garbage" that has been written about him.

Rajiv Menon QC said his client had been suffering from increasing feelings of stress and trauma as a result of lies that were spread about him after the tragedy, on top of trying to allay the feelings of guilt he had about the fire.

The aftermath of the fire has affected him so negatively that he feels "terrified" about the prospect of giving oral evidence to this inquiry, Mr Menon said.

He emphatically denied claims that Mr Kebede had packed a suitcase and fled the building.

Instead, he acted "quickly and instinctively", waking his flatmates and calling 999, but only got through to an operator after several attempts.

Mr Menon told the hearing: "He then banged on the doors of the five other flats on the fourth floor. He waited until somebody opened each door and again shouted 'Fire! Fire! Fire!'.

"Having warned all his neighbours on the fourth floor, Mr Kebede returned to flat 16, switched off the main electricity in the hallway and put on some trousers.

"He left his home for the very last time, shutting the front door behind him.

"All he had on his person were the clothes he was wearing and the mobile phone with which he was calling 999."

Mr Menon said Mr Kebede fled his flat barefoot without his wallet, flat keys and car keys.

He said: "He did not pack a suitcase and leave after raising the alarm, a nasty lie printed in the days after the fire and sadly continues to be peddled nearly a year later, most recently in a lengthy article called The Tower, published in the 7th June 18 issue of the London Review of Books.

"In short, Behailu Kebede did exactly what Grenfell Tower residents who discovered a fire in their flat were told to do by the fire action notice posted by the lifts."

Mr Menon said his client had been subjected to a campaign "that can only be described as a campaign of harassment" by the media.

He begged journalists, who he said had repeatedly doorstepped Mr Kebede, to "leave him alone" so he can begin to rebuild his life.

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