Grenfell inquiry unlikely to 'attach blame' to anyone, says journalist

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The last day of commemorative tributes in the Grenfell Tower inquiry will be heard today.

Over the last week-and-a-half, first-hand accounts from survivors and their families were heard, as they described the impact the devastating fire last June had on them.

On the opening day on May 21, Marcio Gomes wept as he recalled how his son Logan was stillborn in hospital in the hours after he and his wife escaped the blaze.

The families of the 72 victims were given as long as they wanted to pay tribute to their loved ones over the next seven days.

On the second day of the inquiry, a video of the fire was shown without prior warning, causing some people to walk out in distress.

Bernard Richmond QC, who was leading the tributes, apologised for the lack of warning.

Listen to Tom Bergin on the talkRADIO breakfast show above

547 people, including all of the victims’ families, are core participants in the enquiry, which is being led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, a retired judge.

The next stage of phase one of the inquiry will be on 18 June, when ‘expert witnesses’ will give evidence.

These include a number of professors with forensic and structural knowledge.

Phase one is expected to end in October, with phase two beginning next year.

A criminal investigation is also under way. In January, Scotland Yard asked for an extra £38 million in funding to complete it, and was said in December to be considering corporate manslaughter charges.

Tom Bergin, a correspondent with Reuters, told talkRADIO he thought it was unlikely the inquiry would point the finger at any organisation or person.

“There’s no real evidence from the proposals for the inquiry that it will seek to be apportioning blame in the way people might expect,” he said.

“That’s partially because if you did seek to attach blame, this may jeopardise a criminal trial.

“In the context of large corporations being responsible for people’s deaths, there’s not a great track record of people being sent to prison for that.

“One might argue that’s a bit of a cop-out, because the criminal line won’t actually lead to significant sanctions against individuals.”

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where Grenfell Tower is, is looking into replacing 4,000 doors on homes in the area with ones that can withstand fire for 30 minutes, in line with current building regulations.

A door from Grenfell Tower was tested, and found to only be able to withstand a blaze for 15 minutes.