Grenfell Tower fire: Investigation findings may not be published for years

'There is no timeframe for when the inquest will be, but certainly not in the short term'

Greg Wilford
Saturday 17 June 2017 10:35
Grenfell Tower
Grenfell Tower

It could be years before the London Fire Brigade (LFB) publicly release an investigation report into the Grenfell Tower fire, the force has said.

Angry residents have demanded answers about the disaster amid allegations of safety failings and fears that the death toll could rise to 70 in the coming weeks.

But an LFB spokeswoman told The Guardian: The report will not be in the public domain until that inquest is complete. There is no timeframe for when the inquest will be, but certainly not in the short term.”

As a result, it could be years before the report is released.

Her claim appeared to contradict Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, who said that the interim findings of fire officers' investigations will be made available to local councils as they carry out emergency inspections of more than 4,000 tower blocks across the UK.

They could also anger community members who have demanded answers about what caused the blaze, that left at least 30 dead and dozens more injured. At least 70 people remain unaccounted for.

Protests erupted across London on in the wake of the disaster, with victims and other angry Londoners uniting in outrage at the failings that led to the blaze.

Scores of people forced also their way into North Kensington Town Hall, to deliver a list of demands, including the immediate rehousing of all victims within the borough.

Questions were raised over the cladding used to cover the tower block, which was reportedly cheaper and more flammable than another option available to the supplier.

Theresa May has ordered a public inquiry into the blaze which could take place before or instead of any inquests - a criminal investigation has also been launched as prosecutors consider whether charges could be brought over the blaze.

Sadiq Khan has urged the government to quickly publish an interim report on the fire, highlighting concerns about other estates that have been refurbished in a similar way to the Grenfell Tower.

The London Mayor said "there are pressing questions which demand urgent answers" as he called for a report "by the end of this summer at the latest" on Twitter.

Mr Khan added: "I welcome the announcement of a full independent Public Inquiry, but we cannot afford to wait years for the outcome."

More than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for an inquest to be held instead of a public inquiry, amid concerns it could potentially be a “whitewash” as it will be Government-led.

An inquest into the death would almost certainly have been jury-led because of the possible involvement of public bodies in the deaths, and guided by a coroner who acts independently of the Government.

But inquests do not go ahead once a public inquiry has been announced.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton confirmed that no more survivors are expected to be found as firefighters continue to search through the burned out building.

She said: “The operation is now one of recovery rather than rescue. We realise that a lot of people are still incredibly concerned about their loved ones who are still unaccounted for and our priority is to do the best for those waiting for news of their relatives and friends.

“Our specialist urban search and rescue (USAR) crews are currently working to make the block safe so our firefighters can continue to progress throughout the building, making a detailed, fingertip search, for anyone who may still be inside.

"This will be a slow and painstaking process which will require a large amount of shoring up work inside the building, especially on the upper floors, which will be the most challenging for us to access and search."

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