Socialist Worker

Grenfell survivors angry at fresh delays to justice

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2645

Marching on the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell fire

Marching on the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell fire (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire have said they will not submit files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) until “the latter part of 2021”.

That means any trials of people or organisations connected with the 2017 blaze at the west London tower block will likely not take place until at least 2022.

Survivors and campaigners have slammed the announcement as yet more foot-dragging from the authorities.

Antonio Roncolato, a survivor of the fire, told Socialist Worker, "I'm very disappointed. I want to believe and I want to trust that when the police have concrete evidence they will not wait but will act on it.

"People have lost loved ones and their hearts are bleeding. They are asking, 'Is this just a whitewash?'

"We have to have results. We want to see people behind bars for this."

Justice4Grenfell said, "bereaved families and survivors are rightly dismayed at the police update. Shahrokh Aghlani, who is a bereaved family member, walked out of a meeting with police yesterday in protest of the announcement.

"Justice4Grenfell does not understand why the police are waiting for the public inquiry evidence before sending a file to the CPS. These are, and should be, handled as two separate investigations.

"Justice4Grenfell shares the views of bereaved families and the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and believe that justice delayed is justice denied. We will not accept a repeat of the mistakes of Hillsborough."

Issues

The cops’ announcement is linked to the likely delay of the second stage of the public inquiry into Grenfell until 2020. This is the stage which will look at some of the wider issues surrounding the fire.

Police said it would be “wrong” to begin prosecution proceedings before this stage had begun.

Survivors’ group Grenfell United described cops’ decision as “extremely frustrating and disheartening” and said “vague reassurances are wearing thin”.

That frustration comes from the fact that those responsible for the conditions that led to the fire are walking free. And it comes from the achingly slow pace of change to make housing safe in Britain in the wake of the fire.

Fire professionals called into question on Wednesday fire safety guidelines which state that only buildings above 18 metres are classed as particularly vulnerable to fire. They argued that restrictions on the use of combustible cladding and other materials should be extended to lower buildings.

Grenfell fire showed how the system fails ordinary people
Grenfell fire showed how the system fails ordinary people
  Read More

The National Fire Chief’s Council said it could see “no justification for controlling fire spread on buildings above 18 metres yet providing no control below that threshold”.  

It’s another example of how the Grenfell Tower fire has proven building and safety regulations to be completely inadequate.

Yet there is no political will to update them.

Natasha Elcock from Grenfell United said, “We are living in a limbo with no individuals or organisations being held accountable. And it is so painful for all of us who lost loved ones and our homes that night.

“We wait month after month, our lives on hold, for some kind of justice and progress.

“We know the refurbishment of GrenfellTower turned our homes into a death trap. And we know that people, organisations and institutions that were meant to care for us didn’t and 72 people died.

“And yet no-one has been held accountable."


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