Grenfell housing ministers get honours

A peerage for Gavin Barwell and a CBE for Brandon Lewis – but still no summons to the Grenfell inquiry.

Grenfell protest - Justice for Grenfell

Two former housing ministers tainted by Grenfell have been honoured by former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Gavin Barwell gets a Peerage and Brandon Lewis a CBE.

Both Barwell – whose ducking of questions outside 10 Downing street was a defining image of Grenfell’s aftermath – and Lewis were warned in the Commons they could “potentially be in the dock for corporate manslaughter”, with their inaction making the government culpable in the disaster.

Barwell lost his Croydon Central seat in the 2017 snap election but went on to serve as May’s chief of staff.

Lewis was appointed Party chairman and is now a minister without portfolio.

The pair were drawn deep into Grenfell investigations, with the release of previously secret Whitehall studies from 2015 warning of fire risks to tower blocks.

As reported by 24housing, the House of Commons heard under Commons privilege they could “potentially be in the dock for corporate manslaughter”, with their inaction making the government “culpable” over Grenfell.

Neither have been called to give evidence to the Grenfell Inquiry having been accused of not acting on a review of building regulations at tower blocks that uncovered serious safety failings following the fatal 2009 Lakanal fire in Camberwell, London.

Evidence to phase one of the Grenfell Inquiry raised questions over a need to examine prevailing political choices in the top-down application of social housing policy.

Barwell has faced calls to account for “sitting on” the findings of the Lakanal Review and Lewis for passing responsibility to the ‘fire industry’ when told toughening regulation would hit housebuilding rates.

It emerged that experts had warned the government two years before the Grenfell disaster that not enough was being done to prevent the risk of fire spreading through tower blocks – and that lives were in danger as a result.

Whitehall-commissioned studies produced in March 2015 exposed the danger of flames passing through concealed cavities.

Officials kept the findings “confidential”.

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