Socialist Worker

Grenfell survivors demand their voices are heard at inquiry

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2584

A protest demands justice for Grenfell

A protest demands justice for Grenfell (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Grenfell survivors and campaigners vowed to keep up the fight for justice as the inquiry into the causes of the fire began on Monday. The inquiry opened with two days of legal discussion over its procedures.

It comes ahead of the six month anniversary of the blaze at the west London tower block on Thursday.

Survivors, relatives of the dead and activists have slammed the inquiry as unrepresentative.

Lawyers representing people and organisations with core participant status spoke about their concerns on Monday. “Many survivors still strongly feel their voices are not being heard,” said a lawyer from the Birnberg Peirce firm.

“Perhaps if those voices had been heard in the past we would not be here today.”

Survivors and families of the dead were made to sit at the back while teams of lawyers were at the front facing inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

Danny Friedman QC argued that “survivors and the bereaved must be placed at the centre, or heart, of this process”.

He continued to question what role survivors would play in the inquiry, demanding they’re not diminished to “passive attendees”. “We will not reply to letters until our clients’ involvement is confirmed”, he said.

Michael Mansfield QC argued that “in a community that has been ignored, what has happened since then has not restored their confidence.

“There’s a distinct feeling that they have not been involved.”

A representative from Imran Khan and Partners law firm also argued for “members of the community to be part of a decision-making panel”.

Submissions 

Some of the submissions hinted at the scale of the police investigation.

Around 270,000 documents are expected to be examined as part of the criminal investigation.

Jeremy Johnson QC said that some 383 companies have potentially been “identified as having involvement” in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. He was speaking on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

That reveals the scale of political decisions, such as privatisation and subcontracting, which took place in the lead up to the Grenfell fire.

And six months after the fire, the Tories are still treating survivors with contempt and pushing through dangerous housing policies.

In a statement, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “It is a disgrace that tower blocks across our country have still not been made safe. We need answers from the government and we need action.

“Grenfell was an entirely avoidable human disaster. The government must act now to prevent it from being repeated.”

It will take a fight to get justice for those murdered in Grenfell Tower.

Justice4Grenfell activist Moyra Samuels told Socialist Worker, “The lawyers did well to scrutinise and identify the key problems with the inquiry. But we know they can't do their job without people supporting their arguments politically.

“That makes the Silent March for Grenfell on Thursday even more important."


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