A man from Morocco who was delayed entry into the UK to give a tribute to his deceased sister at the Grenfell inquiry has accused the Home Office of racial bias.
Karim Khalloufi and his mother were not granted visas in time by the Home Office to attend the opening week of the inquiry to read a statement in honour of their relative Khadija Khalloufi.
Khadija, 52, lost her life in the Grenfell Tower tragedy last year; she lived in flat 143 on the 17th floor of the high rise block.
The grieving family members prepared a statement but were unable to read their vigil at the inquiry.
“They denied the right for us to be here and to read the statement in a worthy manner,” said Mr Khalloufi.
“We wrote this statement with our tears, with our feelings, but the Home Office denies us this right and they kept our passports for five months.
“We couldn’t attend the start of the inquiry, but we are here now to fight for justice to know exactly what happened and to let my sister rest in peace.”
Mr Khalloufi, who is self-employed, feels the Home Office has not gone far enough to help them with their suffering, putting it down to a matter of race.
“I really felt disappointment and I was angry,” he added.
“I was furious because they prevented us from coming to read the statement, this shows me that maybe it’s a problem of race because I’m sure if it was another person or another nationality - European nationality, American people or Australian people - they would treat them maybe different.
“But because we are foreigners and because my sister came from council housing, and as you know 90 or 95% of people in Grenfell were foreigners, I feel like it’s a problem of race.”
His mother, who has travelled with Mr Mr Khalloufi, has flown over to take part in the anniversary remembrance.
“She wants to know who is responsible for the loss of her daughter.
“I was telling her that they didn’t give us the visa, and she said ‘how come? They were responsible for the loss of my daughter, and I can’t go and fight for her rights, to read the statement for her, to bring her memory, to remind them how she was living, what her place is in our family, they denied this right for us,’ so she’s living this all the time, every day.
“We are here because of this accident, we live this in every minute, we are not here as tourists. When we are together we still talk about this all the time, we remind each other of my sister.”
In a statement, the Home Office said: "Family members of the bereaved and survivors can apply for a visa to attend the Inquiry. These applications will be considered quickly on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the compelling and compassionate circumstances.
"The Home Office will do everything that it can to support the Inquiry and ensure that visa applications are dealt with promptly, to ensure that relatives who are required to provide evidence in person, or who need to be in the UK to participate in the Inquiry, are able to do so.
"We do not routinely comment on individual cases."
Watch talkRADIO's Grenfell Tower: One Year On documentary above