The Grenfell public inquiry is under pressure from survivors of the disaster and bereaved families to publish its Phase 1 report ahead of it being “buried by Brexit”.
Responding to reports of the findings going public the day before Brexit, Grenfell United penned an open letter to inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick saying any recommendations must have an opportunity to be properly considered and debated by Parliament and the media.
“If the report is published at a time when the recommendations will be buried in Brexit, this process will not deliver the accountability and change that is so important to us and all those affected,” the letter says.
Grenfell United says the survivors and bereaved had no consultation over the publication date.
“This is not the first time we have had to question whether bereaved families and survivors really are at the heart of this inquiry,” the letter says.
Moore-Bick and his legal team have been drafting the report since the first phase of the inquiry hearing ended in December last year, with Downing Street saying the report must be published no later than 30th October.
The inquiry has said core participants including the bereaved, survivors, and families will receive the report 36 hours earlier “under strict embargo”.
Originally, the report was due to be published this spring, but this was delayed, with the inquiry team conceding the task was “far more complex and time-consuming than originally anticipated”.
Phase 1 of the inquiry focussed on the events of 14th June 2017, encompassing the response of London Fire Brigade, the ‘stay put’ decision, and communication between residents and 999 operators.
The inquiry report is expected to draw conclusions about the leadership of the LFB, including its commissioner, Dany Cotton – who has already announced her retirement – and its preparedness for a cladding fire.
Phase 1 also investigated in detail how the fire started in a fourth-floor flat and spread to the top of the building in less than 30 minutes through the largely combustible cladding system installed in 2016.
Some of the bereaved and survivors who are core participants in the inquiry hope Moore-Bick will reach a determination about whether or not the building met building regulations – an issue that has remained unclear since the disaster.
The second phase of the inquiry is due to start in January and will examine the lead-up to the night of the fire, including decisions made by the owner of the 24-storey tower; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; and the landlord, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation; the architects, Studio E; the contractor, Rydon; and material suppliers including Celotex and Arconic.
So far, the inquiry already taken 200,000 documents and the conclusions are not expected until at least 2021, with CPS decisions on potential criminal charges – including manslaughter or corporate manslaughter – unlikely before that.