Grenfell Tower: Hundreds demand 'justice' for fire victims at rally

Labour MP Emma Dent Coad says the 'fight will go on for years'

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 20 June 2017 01:10
Grenfell Tower fire: Hundreds attend peaceful demonstration

Several hundred people have attended a rally to demand “justice” for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Emma Dent Coad, the newly elected Labour MP for Kensington, and human rights barrister Michael Mansfield QC spoke at the rally in a community centre near the tower where at least 79 people died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The MP, who won a shock victory over incumbent Conservative MP Victoria Borwick during last week’s general election, vowed to keep fighting for the victims.

She told the crowd they would “have a fight that will go on for years, don’t let the press manipulate you”.

"Many of you are angry and so am I,” she said. “I've watched as repeated warnings about safety in the tower were ignored, complainers vilified, threatened and marginalised.”

She added that she had met the Home Office on Monday and warned them she was watching the relief process, saying: "I'm not their advocate, I'm yours."

The MP said she had also demanded funds be set aside for "rebuilding a community that has been eroded over the years".

Other speakers questioned the death toll from the fire, repeating unfounded allegations that authorities were deliberately covering it up.

Scotland Yard has repeatedly refused to confirm the number of people they suspect have died until they can confirm exactly who was in the building at the time of the fire.

One protester said "this is not a race war, it's a human race war" and there was criticism of Prime Minister Theresa May.

Meanwhile, a vigil was held outside the Houses of Parliament by supporters of the victims.

The rally follows protests on Friday which saw angry demonstrators storm Kensington Town Hall demanding answers about the lack of support in the days following the fire or information about missing loved ones.

​Kensington and Chelsea Council has been severely criticised for its handling of the aftermath of the fire, with families reportedly being taken to hotels and given just £10 a day to live on.

An emergency taskforce, spearheaded by Ealing Council, has now taken over the relief effort while money and donations continue to pour in from people across the country.

The council has also been attacked over its decision to use cheaper, flammable cladding during its refurbishment of the tower despite it reportedly being illegal for use on high-rise buildings.

The cladding is believed to be the reason the fire, which began on the fourth floor, was able spread up the building so quickly.

Additional reporting by PA