Grenfell fire: David Lammy calls for urgent action from Theresa May to prevent cover-up

'When the truth comes out about this tragedy we may find that there is blood on the hands of a number of organisations,' says Labour MP 

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The Independent Online

David Lammy has warned a cover-up could plague the Grenfell Tower disaster and issued an impassioned plea for Theresa May to immediately seize all pertinent documents.

The Labour MP for Tottenham claimed contractors who dealt with the 24-storey west London building had erased details of their work on the now fire-ravaged tower from their websites. 

Mr Lammy, whose “dear friend” Khadija Saye was killed in the fire last week, questioned what concrete actions the Metropolitan Police were taking to address the deadly blaze which is now thought to have claimed 79 lives. He called for urgent action to avoid potential plots to prevent the public discovering the truth about the harrowing catastrophe.

The politician, who was born in his constituency of Tottenham to Guyanese parents, said speaking to residents had made him aware fear of a cover-up is growing. He insisted it was imperative for Ms May and investigators to ensure all relevant documents are safeguarded.

He said: “Within the community, trust in the authorities is falling through the floor and a suspicion of a cover-up is rising”.

“The Prime Minister needs to act immediately to ensure that all evidence is protected so that everyone culpable for what happened at Grenfell Tower is held to account and feels the full force of the law.

“We need urgent action now to make sure that all records and documents relating to the refurbishment and management of Grenfell Tower are protected.”

He argued that justice could only be achieved if all records – emails, minutes of meetings, correspondence with contractors, safety assessments, specifications and reports – are kept safe.

“When the truth comes out about this tragedy we may find that there is blood on the hands of a number of organisations,” he added. “At this stage, it is my grave concern that the families of Grenfell Tower will not get justice if documents are being quietly destroyed and shredded and emails are being deleted.”

While police hold the power to seize all documents Section 35 of the Public Inquiry Act which turns the destruction of any documents into a criminal offence does not apply until a chairman is appointed and the terms of reference are established.

Mr Lammy, who has been one of the outspoken and damning politicians to address the event, said trust was low among local west London residents and anger was rising as increasing questions about the inferno remained unanswered. 

Grief has quickly turned into rage as it became clear the fatalities had been radically understated and the catastrophe could have been prevented. Alarm bells have also been raised over the cladding used to cover the tower block, which was reportedly cheaper and more flammable than another option available to the supplier.

David Lammy lambasts the treatment of Grenfell residents by local authority

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, he said: “There are contractors who dealt with the tower, that had the tower on the websites proudly saying that they had worked on the tower, and over the last 24 hours have taken off their website the fact that they worked on the fire. 

“The question that was being raised yesterday was what else have they got rid of. Have they deleted emails? Have they shredded documents?”

He added: “People are suspicious that when it involves the state, when it involves the local authority, when it involves a failed TMO, when it involves contractors, suddenly we all go quiet and we talk about it being a tragedy.

“They want more than that actually, they want to know what really is going on and they expect to hear that from the Prime Minister and others – that is not me stirring the pot, that is me speaking for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Mr Lammy, who previously labelled the fire “corporate manslaughter” and called for arrests to be made over the disaster, was insistent the PM needed to take immediate action to ensure everyone culpable for the events at Grenfell Tower is held to account and subject to the full burden of the law.

Police announced they had opened a criminal investigation into the inferno a few days ago, with the probe resulting in the prosecution of anyone judged responsible for building or design failures that caused the blaze.

Ms May has ordered a public inquiry into the fire which wrecked the tower block in the early hours of last Wednesday morning but some have argued residents should instead demand a public inquest into what happened.

Sophie Khan, a solicitor, warned that in an inquest the Government would “lose control” and a jury would have the power to deliver its conclusion even if it was uncomfortable to hear. She said an inquest would avoid a “whitewash”.

The London Fire Brigade has warned it could be years before it releases an investigation report into the incident.

Police have revealed 79 people are confirmed to be either dead or missing and presumed dead, and the number is expected to increase further. The Grenfell Tower blaze is by far the deadliest to shake the capital since World War II.

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