Grenfell fire: Terms of reference published

  • Published
A silent march to pay respect to those killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster makes its way down Ladbroke GroveImage source, PA
Image caption,
Hundreds marched silently on Monday to mark two months since the fire

The actions of Kensington and Chelsea Council are to be considered in the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry, the government has announced.

The inquiry will also look at the adequacy of regulations, the tower's recent refurbishment, and the response of authorities in the aftermath.

Broader questions on social housing will not be included, which campaigners say are central to the situation.

Labour says the inquiry was "closing off criticism of government policy".

However, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would meet social housing tenants to "discuss the challenges they face" and would be setting out further proposals "in due course".

At least 80 people are thought to have died in the fire in North Kensington, west London, on 14 June.

The full terms of reference for the public inquiry, which have been accepted in full by the prime minister, are:

  • The cause and spread of the fire
  • The design, construction and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower
  • The scope and adequacy of the relevant regulations relating to high-rise buildings
  • Whether the relevant legislation and guidance were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower
  • The actions of the local authority and other bodies before the tragedy
  • The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire and the response of central and local government in the aftermath
Image source, PA
Image caption,
Sir Martin had faced calls to step down as head of the Grenfell Tower inquiry

The judge heading the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, had previously said its scope could be much more limited.

Karim Mussilhy is still waiting for the remains of his uncle to be found and identified.

Asked whether he has confidence in the inquiry, he said: "I support it…(but) confidence is a very strong word. I have more confidence in the criminal investigation than I do the public inquiry."

Joe Delaney from the Grenfell Action Group has raised concerns about how the inquiry will scrutinise Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Speaking on Radio 4's PM, Mr Delaney said: "If it is interpreted as narrowly as it seems Sir Martin Moore-Bick instinctively seems to interpret things then we may have a serious problem."

Meanwhile, campaigners including Justice4Grenfell (J4G) and Labour MP David Lammy, who knew a victim of the fire, have raised concerns over the exclusion of social issues.

The mayor of London said in a statement questions should be answered "if the community's shattered confidence is to be restored".

Sadiq Khan urged Sir Martin to do "everything in his power" to publish the interim report as quickly as possible.

J4G spokeswoman Yvette Williams said the group would consider working with Sir Martin if he appointed community advisers.

Media caption,

"You don't respect me": Footage from the meeting shows Sir Martin Moore-Bick defending his position

Local MP Emma Dent Coad said the scope "will not get to the heart of the problem".

The shadow fire minister said the terms "touch on concerns" but that political decisions need to be looked into after it was made "perfectly permissible to put combustible materials on a tower block".

The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council said it was fully cooperating with the inquiry.

"We must find out what went wrong and make sure it never happens again, not only in this borough, but anywhere in the UK," Elizabeth Campbell added.

Inquiry concerns

Meanwhile, Sir Martin has suggested that a failure to address the long-term immigration status of some survivors could hinder his work.

He urged the government to "take all necessary steps" to encourage those living in the building illegally to come forward, adding that it could deprive the investigation of "valuable" evidence if they didn't.

The government responded to his concerns by pointing to a 12-month amnesty that would allow such individuals temporary lawful residence in the UK.

The inquiry has now officially begun and will hold its first hearing on 14 September, with an initial report by Easter.

The terms of reference were determined following consideration of more than 550 submissions.

The Met has said it would investigate "all criminal offences that may have been committed".

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health - a chartered body - submitted a response to the consultation. It says the inquiry should be "a watershed for fire safety".