Grenfell hearings schedule revealed

Grenfell hearings schedule revealed

THE INQUIRY into the fire last June will begin hearings on 21 May, with the prospective full programme of hearings also announced.

Previously, inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick appointed three assessors to look at housing, local government and technical matters. Two days of inquiry hearings took place at the Holborn Bars in central London, and dealt with ‘case management issues’ including proposed timetables, matters concerning witnesses and the disclosure of evidence’.

Sir Martin’s inquiry is also looking to produce an initial report that would explain the ‘immediate cause and spread’ of the fire, as well as an ‘assessment of the evacuation process’. In January, it was revealed that the inquiry was preparing for its first evidential hearings, and had written to core participants to update them on the next steps.

These include that evidential hearings are planned to start in May and ‘no later than 4 June 2018’, with the lead counsel having written to core participants to invite comment on a proposed procedural programme. A full list of core participants has now been made available, with 532 individuals and organisations named altogether: 504 are ‘bereaved, survivors and local residents’, and 28 are organisations.

Now, the inquiry has issued an update on its programme for the first phase of hearings, which will begin on 21 May and ‘focus on the factual narrative of the events’ of the fire last June. This will include the ‘existing fire safety and prevention measures’ at the tower, ‘where and how the fire started’ and the ‘development of the fire and smoke’, alongside how the fire and smoke ‘spread from its original seat to other parts of the building’.

Finally, it will study the ‘chain of events before the decision was made that there was no further savable life in the building’, and evacuation of residents. The second phase meanwhile will address other issues identified, with the first phase opening with an estimated nine days of commemoration hearings, before the opening statements from the counsel to the inquiry and core participants, starting on 4 June and estimated to last five days.

Next, the expert witness presentations from the three assessors will be held from 18 June for an estimated three days, before evidence relevant to the circumstances surrounding the fire’s initial outbreak, including London Fire Brigade personnel who attended at this point, is heard for an estimated six to seven days from 21 June. All remaining evidence from firefighters will be heard for an estimated four weeks from 2 July.

From 3 September, for an estimated four weeks as well, evidence will be heard from the bereaved, survivors and local residents, while a period of time to hear other witnesses’ evidence is to be confirmed after that. Expert witness evidence will be heard from 1 October for an estimated eight to ten days, before closing statements from the counsel to core participants wraps up the first phase from 29 October, over an estimated five day period. After this, an interim report will be prepared by Sir Martin before the second phase’s hearings begin.