The Terms of Reference into the Grenfell Inquiry were published yesterday to a mixed reaction.  It is broader than expected in some senses in that it will look at the emergency and the Government/Council’s response to the disaster, but to the disappointment of others it will not look at the policy and politics surrounding social housing and the level of investment in recent years.   

The wording of the Terms of Reference is to examine the circumstances surrounding the fire including:

  • The immediate cause or causes of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole of the building;
  • The design and construction of the building and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management;
  • The scope and adequacy of building regulations, fire regulations and other legislation, guidance and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings;
  • Whether such regulations, legislation, guidance and industry practice were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower and the fire safety measures adopted in relation to it;
  • The arrangements made by the local authority or other responsible bodies for receiving and acting upon information either obtained from local residents or available from other sources (including information derived from fires in other buildings) relating to the risk of fire at Grenfell Tower, and the action taken in response to such information;
  • The fire prevention and fire safety measures in place at the time
  • The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire; and
  • The response of central and local government in the days immediately following the fire.

This involved the publication of a consultation document which received 554 written responses and takes into account the fire itself, the history of the building, its most recent refurbishment, the state of building and fire regulations and aspects of the relationship between the residents of the tower and the local authority. The introduction outlines that written responses strongly argued for the Inquiry to have a broad scope and to include examination of social housing policy and whether the response by local and central government was and is sufficient. However, social housing policy will not be dealt with by the Inquiry and the document also states that ‘there is no consistent view about what should be the subject of an initial report’.

There is concern among campaign groups that the Terms are not wide enough, and some groups (eg Justice4Grenfell) consider social housing policy to be a central issue. The Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey also criticised this omission.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the judge chairing the Inquiry, has already announced that there will be an interim report issued on a quicker timeline than the full Inquiry.  There are questions now however around how the Inquiry should run alongside any criminal prosecution and whether it would need to be delayed to give this priority.

If you would like to speak to anyone in our Inquiry team at Bates Wells Braithwaite for further details or comment,  please do contact either Melanie Carter, Partner at m.carter@bwbllp.com or Claire Whittle, Senior Associate at c.whittle@bwbllp.com or call 0207 551 7777.

 


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Melanie Carter

Partner and Head of Public & Regulatory

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+44(0)20 7551 7615

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m.carter@bwbllp.com
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Posted on 16/08/2017 in Legal Updates

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