Almost 400 individuals and organisations have been granted “core participant” status in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry which could give them the right to provide opening statements, highlight evidence or suggest lines of questioning.
The inquiry, led by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, received an “unprecedented” number of applications for core participant status. So far 393 have been granted, including from 25 organisations and professional bodies, while 111 have been refused and 41 have been deferred or remain under consideration.
In a statement providing an update on its work, the inquiry said the task of taking statements from residents of the west London block and firefighters who tried to tackle the fatal blaze had yet to be completed.
The pace of the process had been “unavoidably affected” by the police investigation into the fire.
The inquiry will look into events on June 14 when a fire ripped through the tower block, killing at least 80 people and leaving hundreds homeless. It is hoped this strand of the inquiry will be conducted speedily to help prevent similar fires at high-rise blocks.
In the second stage of the inquiry, the refurbishment of the tower will be put under the microscope, investigating how and why it came to be wrapped in flammable cladding and insulation. It will also examine why residents’ warnings were ignored and look at the response of Kensington and Chelsea Council and central Government after the fire.
Sir Martin has appointed three expert assessors to help with his work. Regeneration expert and former Department for Communities and Local Government official Joe Montgomery will give advice on issues relating to community engagement and the occupation and management of social housing.
Joyce Redfearn, who has extensive experience in local government and health, will give advice on the investigation into the council’s actions. Civil engineering expert Professor David Nethercot will help Sir Martin consider the technical issues around Grenfell Tower and its refurbishment.
Procedural hearings in the inquiry will take place on December 11 and 12. Yesterday, a report prompted by the Grenfell Tower fire found that current UK housing law is piecemeal, inadequate, incoherent and obscure, with 85% of experts deeming it not fit for purpose.
Outdated and lax housing legislation, shackled to its Victorian origins, has failed to prioritise tenant safety or ensure them meaningful rights, the report commissioned by UK housing charity Shelter said. The charity said the failings the review highlighted were likely to have contributed to the June 14 high-rise blaze, thought to have killed around 80 people.
The study, Closing The Gaps: Health And Safety In Housing, is one of several reviews announced following the fire, which also prompted a public inquiry and criminal investigation.