Grenfell inquiry report not due until October
THE INQUIRY stated in an announcement that chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s phase one report from the inquiry will ‘most likely’ be published in October.
Last week, a letter sent to core participants stated that Sir Martin will not make any ‘urgent’ fire safety recommendations in his report on the inquiry’s first phase. Last year, it began looking at the ‘factual narrative’, with expert witnesses describing various safety failures and a ‘culture of non compliance’. After resuming post break, a fire station manager stated that ‘vital’ plans were not able to be found in the lobby of the building.
It then heard from 999 operators that due to a policy not to recontact callers, residents were not told to evacuate when policy changed. In September last year, one of the fire commanders stated that ‘the building let us all down’, before London Fire Brigade (LFB) commissioner Dany Cotton admitted that she had no knowledge of cladding risks despite an LFB presentation created only a year before.
Then, it heard two different experts note that flames spread in ‘just over 10 minutes’ to the outside, and that cladding issues ‘have been known for decades’. In November, the inquiry heard that the architectural ‘crown’ of cladding was ‘instrumental’ in the fire’s spread, and the fire was ‘most likely started by overheated wiring’ within a fridge freezer. After that, it heard that LFB had ‘failed residents and firefighters’, and that a post Grenfell audit of the building’s management company found only ‘minor weaknesses’ in its approach.
In December, the second phase was reported to be ‘unlikely to start’ until the end of 2019, according to Sir Martin, because there are ‘more than 20,000 documents still to disclose’, with this ‘probably not’ completed before this autumn. This second phase will examine the ‘wider issues surrounding the fire’.
Earlier in 2019, reports on the refurbishment of the tower and the cladding and insulation were released, while it was revealed that any prosecutions over the fire are ‘unlikely’ before 2021. Last week’s reveal noted that Sir Martin’s first report will ‘not make recommendations on a range of fire safety issues’, despite inquiry experts warning that ‘urgent and very far-reaching reform’ is needed.
At that point, it was said that the report is ‘now set’ to be delayed until this summer, and the inquiry itself has now announced that the report will ‘most likely’ not be published until October. It stated that writing the report ‘has proved to be a far more complex and time-consuming task than the Inquiry had originally anticipated’, with an ‘almost minute-by-minute description’ of the night’s events, whether in the tower and flats or in the control room.
With a ‘significant volume’ of evidence to be reviewed and ‘detailed work’ required to ‘ensure findings are properly tied to all relevant parts of the evidence’, Sir Martin is ‘seeking to complete the report as soon as possible but needs to ensure he does not compromise its thoroughness and accuracy’. In turn, it must obey the rule 13 process that requires warning letters be sent to those that ‘may be subject to criticism’ so that they have an opportunity ‘to respond before the report’
This process is not due to begin until July, after which Sir Martin ‘will be in a position’ to write to the Prime Minister with the final report after the parliamentary recess, with publication ‘most likely’ in October. Its update also clarified the lack of recommendations, stating that Sir Martin does ‘not consider it appropriate’ to make interim recommendations, but that this should ‘not be taken as an indication that he does not regard any of the suggestions put forward as important’.
For any recommendation to ‘carry the weight necessary to bring about change’ it should be ‘firmly grounded in the evidence’, it concluded. The Guardian reported on the responses to the report publication delay, stating that the inquiry is ‘running months behind schedule’, and that ‘more than two years will have passed before any official conclusions are drawn about the disaster’.
Natasha Elcock, former Grenfell resident and chairwoman of Grenfell United, said it was ‘disgraceful’ that the inquiry ‘appeared to have underestimated’ the complexity of the evidence, adding: ‘That we are only finding this out now, when we were expecting the report to be published ahead of the two-year anniversary, shows how they continue to disregard survivors and bereaved through this process.
‘It took courage for survivors to give evidence in the first part of the inquiry. We put our faith in Sir Martin Moore-Bick to make change. Six months after hearing our evidence the inquiry is yet to make a single recommendation to keep people safe in their homes. It is survivors and bereaved that fought to get dangerous cladding banned.
‘There is still no change to the stay-put policy, people are living in tower blocks without sprinklers and social housing residents across the country are still be ignored and mistreated. We want the inquiry and the criminal investigation to be thorough and to get to the truth, but there must be no more delays. We are living in a limbo, increasingly frustrated, and we need to know there will be some resolution soon. A slow justice is a painful justice for all of us.’