Grenfell lawyer invites Julia Hartley-Brewer to meet survivors: 'It'll change your mind'

John Cooper represents many victims of the Grenfell tower

Grenfell Tower was the scene of horror two months ago

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A lawyer representing those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire has invited our presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer to spend time at the site of the disaster - so she can meet victims and change her view on what happened.

Human rights barrister John Cooper had a fiesty chat with our host about what he termed the "contempt" with which victims have been treated and the double standards applied to people of different backgrounds."the issues of discrimination and social housing policy are essential to what has happened here at Grenfell."

The terms of reference for the Grenfell inquiry have now been announced. The investigation, led by Judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, will examine the actions of Kensington and Chelsea council but will not address broader questions of social housing policy - although critics believe it should go much further.

Cooper said the disaster was rooted in "the way different people from different backgrounds and different societies are treated in relation to housing provision and protection in proper, safe housing.

"The fact that Grenfell has got to this state cannot be divorced from a relatively recent history of depravation, discrimination and social housing discrimination."

When Julia asked if Cooper was suggesting poorer people are treated with less kindness and consideration than wealthier sections of society, Cooper said "that's exactly right."

Our host pointed out that wealthy people don't get social housing, so the comparison is flawed, but Cooper continued by claiming that "when you examine the way people from richer and more advantaged backgrounds are treated, compared to how people in social housing are treated, there are big issues."

The interview alleged that the inquiry has hardly released any information so far, while suggesting that the tower is becoming increasingly unsafe and is even "creaking."

In response, Julia said much of the coverage of Grenfell has been devoted to 'Tory-bashing' and this is deflecting from the real issues at hand.

"So much of the argument was that this was a nasty Tory council doing this to poor people," Julia said.

"The only people living in social housing tower blocks are poor people, and people who live in social housing don't get a luxury A-star service, of course they don't. People living in private tenancies don't get an A-star service. If you've ever had a landlord ever you don't get an A-star service."

But Cooper responded: "I'll give you an invitation. Come and walk with me amongst my clients for the next few weeks, the next few months, and then let's talk again. I guarantee you'll change your mind."

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