Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry sees two new panel members appointed, on the Prime Minister’s personal recommendation.
Theresa May was strongly criticised over the inquiry by the Fire Brigades Union last week for “kicking scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long grass”, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy.
In her resignation address, May referenced the inquiry in defending her record on tackling social injustice.
In one of her final formal acts as Prime Minister, May announced the appointment of Professor Nabeel Hamdi and Thouria Istephan to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry panel for Phase 2 of its work.
In May’s letter to inquiry, Prof Hamdi is pitched as an “accomplished academic with an international reputation in housing and participatory design and planning”.
Ms Istephan was described as a “widely respected partner” at Foster + Partners architectural practice.
“I am confident these new appointments will ensure the Inquiry panel has the diversity of skills and experience necessary for the scope and complexity of issues to be investigated by Phase 2 of the Inquiry’s work,” May said.
Grenfell Panel – Who’s new?
Nabeel Hamdi is currently Professor Emeritus of Housing and Urban Development at the School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University.
Hamdi qualified at the Architectural Association in London in 1968 and worked for the Greater London council between 1969 and 1978, where his award-winning housing projects established his reputation in participatory design and planning.
From 1981 to 1990 he was Associate Professor of Housing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In 1997, Hamdi won the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour for his work on Community Action Planning.
He founded the Masters Course in Development Practice at Oxford Brookes University in 1992, which was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2001.
Hamdi has consulted on housing, participatory action planning and the upgrading of slums in cities to all major international development agencies, and to charities and NGOs worldwide.
Istephan is partner and construction design management (CDM) manager at Foster + Partners, with responsibility for the application of Construction (Design and Management) Regulations – strategically and operationally – as well as global health and safety compliance.
She is also the Technical Design Deputy of the practice’s Construction Review Group, advising on buildability.
Istephan worked for several UK architectural practices before joining the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as an HM Inspector of Health and Safety, then acting as advisor on Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
Joining Foster + Partners in June 1997, Istephan was made a partner in 2007 and Technical Design Deputy in 2015.
Her knowledge and experience of safety standards and the regulatory environment is described in May’s letter as having “direct relevance” to the issues to be considered by Phase 2 of the Inquiry’s work.