The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire has opened, with its chairman promising it will provide answers to how the disaster could have happened in 21st century London.
Sir Martin Moore-Bick said he would not shrink away from making recommendations that could lead to prosecutions. But he has faced criticism for refusing to appoint a survivor to the inquiry panel. Grenfell survivors say they still feel like they ‘have not been listened to’. Sir Martin told the hearing that the blaze on 14 June – in which at least 80 people died – was a ‘tragedy unprecedented in modern times. We are acutely aware that so many people died and that many of those who survived have been severely affected.’ He said ‘We are also conscious that many have lost everything. The inquiry cannot undo any of that, but it can and will provide answers to how a disaster of this kind could happen in 21st Century London.’ Sir Martin told the hearing he recognised the ‘great sense of anger and betrayal’ felt by those affected by the blaze and would examine evidence ‘calmly and rationally’. But he rejected calls from survivors to appoint a person from the Grenfell community to the inquiry panel, saying it would ‘risk undermining impartiality’.
The inquiry’s full terms of reference are:
- The cause and spread of the fire
- The design, construction and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower
- The scope and adequacy of the relevant regulations relating to high-rise buildings
- Whether the relevant legislation and guidance were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower
- The actions of the local authority and other bodies before the tragedy
- The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire and the response of central and local government in the aftermath
An interim report is expected by Easter.
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