Grenfell inquiry halted until January after staff member contracts coronavirus

Pause in inquiry ‘extremely disappointing’, says chairman

Kate Ng
Wednesday 09 December 2020 21:15 GMT
A general view of what remains of Grenfell Tower covered with hoardings in October 2019
A general view of what remains of Grenfell Tower covered with hoardings in October 2019 (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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The Grenfell Inquiry has been halted until at least 11 January after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

No more evidence will be heard for more than a month after a number of staff were instructed to self-isolate following the result.

The inquiry was due to sit for another week until 17 December, before breaking for Christmas until 11 January.

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moor-Bick said at the end of Wednesday’s hearing: “We learned earlier on today that one of the members of the inquiry team has tested positive for Covid-19.

“As a result a number of members of the inquiry team and support staff are going to have to go into self-isolation for a couple of weeks.”

He said staff had tried to work out a solution that would allow witnesses to still give evidence, but had come to the conclusion “that that simply is not possible”.

“Regrettably at this point we’re going to have to close down the inquiry at least as far as hearings are concerned until 11 January, when we shall resume.

“It’s extremely disappointing, I’m very sorry to have to give you all this news but we feel that there is nothing we can do to keep ourselves going in the interim.”

The inquiry reopened in the summer following the first nationwide coronavirus lockdown, but has been running with fewer people in attendance.

The development comes after the inquiry heard that Kingspan, the firm that manufactured flammable insulation used on Grenfell Tower, had lobbied MPs in an attempt to convince them their product was safe, just weeks after the blaze.

The firm used public relations agency Portland in 2017 to try and convince “key decision makers” that the insulation was safe if properly installed.

Additional reporting by PA

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