The Grenfell inquiry has lost a month waiting for the Attorney General to rule on the evidence-immunity application from contractors – with critics claiming the application’s approval is inevitable.
With Suella Braverman replacing Geoffrey Cox, a re-start to the inquiry has been put back to 2nd March at the earliest – with the inquiry confirming and an “indication” from Braverman that she will “aim” to make a decision next week.
A subsequent statement says the inquiry “hopes” to be able to resume on 2nd March – with an updated Phase 2 timetable drawn up.
As reported by 24housing, Grenfell contractors have as good as got their ‘get out’ over evidence they give to the inquiry being used against them in criminal proceedings.
But in asking the Attorney General for a pledge that evidence given by corporate witnesses won’t be used prosecute them, inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick acknowledges that the breadth of privilege applied for poses “particular problems” for the inquiry, given the broad range of offences with which many of the witnesses might be charged.
Given Sir Martin’s recommendation, critics say approval from the Attorney General is inevitable.
The approval of the Attorney General does not grant anyone immunity from prosecution, nor does it apply to any statements or documents already in the possession of the inquiry.
It also does not prevent the prosecuting authorities from making use of answers given by one witness in furtherance of proceedings against another.
Lawyers for corporate witnesses filed the application claiming their clients had ‘legal right’ of privilege against self-incrimination, and that without this guarantee, many corporate witnesses had threatened to stay silent by claiming the legal right of privilege against self-incrimination.
The application was vigorously opposed by QCs representing bereaved, survivors, and residents.
Arguments made against included the inference that could be drawn from available statements and documents should witnesses refuse to answer questions.