Socialist Worker

Grenfell Tower survivors ask, ‘Can we trust the legal system?’

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2565

Protests have put pressure on the authorities

Protests have put pressure on the authorities (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A public meeting on Wednesday this week underlined the deep mistrust survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire feel towards the inquiry panel headed by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

“We don’t trust you,” said local resident and Justice 4 Grenfell activist Moyra Samuels to Moore-Bick. “Look at the diversity of this community?where is that reflected in you?

“Who are you going to put on that panel to instil trust?”

Another person in the audience on Wednesday asked, “Can we even trust the legal system?”

Moore-Bick replied by saying, “All I can say is give us a chance.”

The meeting erupted in anger when Moore-Bick repeatedly said the inquiry will not be able to bring criminal charges.

“The public inquiry is not allowed to make decisions on criminal responsibility,” he said.

New council leader Elizabeth Campbell is also under attack becasue she owns a £1 million second home on the Isle of Wight originally bought through a family trust and a company registered to an offshore tax haven.

Joe Delaney, from the Grenfell Action Group, said, “Councillor Campbell, who pretends that she finally gets it and understands the plight of residents in such dire circumstances, is actually as out of touch as the rest of the council and those responsible.”

Housing

The council has promised 400 new social housing units within the next five years. But will this hapen, and what about the intervening period?

Nobody should not be forced to live in temporary accommodation for years on end, and especially when new figures show there are almost 1,900 empty homes in the borough.

One of the dangers of the endless meetings is that they wear people down.

It’s important that people keep out on the streets?a march has been called for 14 August at 6.30pm starting at Notting Hill Methodist Church.

People at Thursday’s meeting challenged the official figure of 80 dead in the fire.

One person, whose daughter died in the fire, said, “The figures don’t add up.”

Police had previously claimed the 80 figure was not likely to change.

But Kensington and Chelsea police borough commander Ellie O’Connor responded by saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” seemingly contradicting the official police account. She went on to explain that they still did not have full access to parts of the building.

There will never be anything close to justice until undocumented migrants and asylum seekers are given a full amnesty.

The fire burned at 1,000 degrees centigrade. Many bodies will be unidentifiable. That means people who weren’t recorded as living there must feel safe in coming forward.

Tory immigration minister Brandon Lewis announced just a one year amnesty for undocumented migrants earlier this month. Previously Theresa May had said people had “nothing to fear” about coming forward.

Professor Chris Imafidon told the panel on Thursday, “Vital witnesses are going to be excluded because of their immigration status”.

On Wednesday he had also made the point, “People giving evidence may be deported mid-way through your investigation.”

Ellie O’Connor claimed on Thursday night that “If people haven’t come forwards because they’re scared, they need to come forward. We will not arrest them, they will be treated as witnesses.”

If the prime minister can row back on guarantees then why should anyone trust the police?

“When are you going to listen? We are suffering,” said Stephen at Thursday’s meeting. “What you’re saying sounds really nice, but it’s not happening.”

For more details on the 14 August march go to www.facebook.com/events/317740485351527/

George Monbiot calls for full crime investigation

by Mary Brodbin

Speaking in East London at a meeting called by the People’s Assembly on Grenfell, George Monbiot said that justice will not be served by the inquiry that has been called into the disaster. “We have to ensure that it is not only the immediate causes of the fire that will be examined but rather the deep and radical processes of the crime that has been committed.

“This disaster represents things that really need to be investigated – austerity, the housing crisis and the bonfire of regulations that the Tories boasted about again and again.”

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, spoke about 30 years of deregulation and privatisation–the attacks on council housing, the public sector and building controls. He said, “The quest for profits has cut corners. Nowadays fire risk assessment has no set standard. Anyone can set themselves up as an assessor–no qualifications needed.”

A National Housing Summit has been called for 7 October and the organising meeting beforehand on 7 September. Chair of Defend Council Housing Eileen Short said, “We need meetings on the estates to talk about safety. What Grenfell tells us is that cannot leave it to the authorities to look after safety concerns.

“Southwark and Sheffield have done the fire risk assessments but they have done nothing about what they found. We need to leaflet the estates and we need to take direct action to enforce these things.

“One of the only things that shifts politicians is the fear of mass action. We need housing with secure tenancies–and private tenancies are in an even worse situation on this issue.”

She stressed, “We can win–the government is weak and the mood is angry. Corbyn wants 500,000 council houses built–this has changed what is possible.

“We need to be at the Tory Party conference demonstration on 1 October with Justice for Grenfell leading at the front”.

 


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