In their infinite wisdom and supreme arrogance – what else could we expect of them? – the British Government has announced, without any attempt at public consultation, or any attempt to consider the sensitivities of the bereaved who lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower Inferno, or of those fortunate enough to have miraculously survived it, the appointment of retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick to lead the Grenfell inquiry.
Sir Ken Knight has been named as chair of a new panel looking at safety, a man who previously opposed fitting sprinklers in tower blocks and recommended £200m in cuts to the fire service.
The Secretary to the Inquiry has been named as Mark Fisher CBE who was formerly Social Justice Director at the DWP responsible for the prevention of multiple disadvantage and long term welfare dependency and was previously Jobseekers and Skills Director at the DWP, responsible for designing and delivering the Work Programme.
The Radical Housing Network said:
“The appointment of Sir Martin Moore-Bick as the judge in the Grenfell inquiry is deeply distressing. Sir Moore-Bick has a track record of facilitating the social cleansing of London, approving Westminster Council’s decision to house a single mother with five children in Milton Keynes, 50 miles away from her family and networks, a decision later overturned by the Supreme Court. The government are clearly preparing a stitch-up, trying to put a judge at the heart of the establishment in charge of the inquiry, who supports the inhumane housing policies which have led to Grenfell.
How can we have faith in this panel to deliver the protection we need? These appointments are yet further evidence that the establishment is not committed to providing justice for Grenfell residents, and are unwilling to put in place measures which will prevent a tragedy of this enormity from happening again.”
Pilgrim Tucker, who worked for a while with the Grenfell Action Group and is continuing to support local residents, added:
“Residents from Lancaster West Estate asked Theresa May to involve them in the decision making on the Grenfell Inquiry. In appointing Sir Martin Moore-Bick, she has ignored them, and appointed a completely inappropriate judge. We have no faith that this inquiry will produce justice.”
On Cabinet Secretary Sajid Javid’s letter of 28th June, claiming that all residents made homeless by the Grenfell catastrophe will be permanently rehoused in social housing at social rent, the Radical Housing Network said:
“After over two weeks of uncertainty, and flip-flopping, it is good that the authorities have committed to housing all those made homeless by the fire, regardless of tenure, in permanent social housing at social rent. This is the absolute minimum that should be provided for people who have lost so much.
“However, after appearing to promise homes in borough, the government have backtracked. People housed in neighbouring boroughs could end up living many miles away from their jobs, families and communities. We know Kensington and Chelsea council could afford local homes if they wanted to.”
In a statement Lancaster West Estate Residents also responded:
“Residents are shocked and disappointed at Theresa May’s ‘failed promises’ on Grenfell Tower fire inquiry.”
Residents in the estate surrounding Grenfell Tower expressed disappointment at Theresa May’s failure to consult them on the Public Inquiry, despite previous promises to include them. Resident Amanda Fernandez, said:
“Prime Minister Theresa May did not even respond to our email requesting direct involvement on the establishment of the public inquiry. She has already appointed a judge who has told us the inquiry will be very narrow. She promised to consult us on this, but has completely gone back on that promise. We are deeply disappointed.”
Without consulting residents May has started appointing establishment figures residents feel are not appropriate, compromising the scope of the investigation from the start.
Residents say trust and confidence in the Government and the Inquiry are now very low, and residents are demanding the appointment of appropriate people to lead this Inquiry in order to prevent the same failures being repeated again.
“We now have a complete lack of confidence in the inquiry’s ability to address the history of negligence that led to the fire, or the authorities failures in the aftermath of the fire. For the truth to emerge and justice to be done we must be involved in shaping this inquiry” said Ms Fernandez.
You can contact Lancaster West Estate Residents at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Radical Housing Network, to whom we are grateful for much of the content of this blog, is a London-wide network of housing activist and campaign groups. (Grenfell Action Group is a member).
The Radical Housing Network has a website at : http://radicalhousingnetwork.org/