“Lives were ruined and we want justice,” a former Grenfell resident told Socialist Worker on Monday. He was speaking as the second phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry got underway.
The corporations and politicians to blame for the fire that took 72 lives in 2017 are hoping to avoid scrutiny. Even inquiry lawyers have condemned them.
Richard Millett, counsel to the inquiry, said that none of the organisations involved “took the slightest bit of responsibility” for their involvement in the fire.
Survivors and families of victims gathered outside the venue on Monday morning to demand justice.
“Phase one of the inquiry told us that the cladding was to blame for the fire spreading,” said the Grenfell resident.
“We knew that. Now someone needs to be held responsible. The companies that did this don’t want to admit it. But that’s not good enough,” he added.
The hearings on Monday began with statements from the contractors who were responsible for the tower’s refurbishment between 2014 and 2016.
The companies making statements included Arconic, which provided the cladding. The inquiry heard that Arconic was aware, as far back as 2011, that the cladding was not safe.
"someone needs to be held responsible. The companies that did this don’t want to admit it. But that’s not good enough."
The cladding allegedly performed worse in testing than was declared on safety certificates.
These accusations were made by lawyers for Rydon—the main contractor on the refurbishment. They argued that, although they were in charge, they could not accept “moral culpability” for the fire because they worked with different parties. The hearings began in the wake of the resignation of inquiry panelist Benita Mehra. Mehra—appointed by Boris Johnson—was head of the Women’s Engineering Society.
The organisation received a £71,000 grant from Arconic.
Families have welcomed the resignation, but many still worry that the inquiry will fail to deliver justice.
Survivors’ group Justice4Grenfell said the inquiry must address the institutional discrimination that led to the disaster.
Aisha Mohamed, who lost her aunt and two nieces in the fire, said that “social class” was the main cause of the disaster. Nabil Choucair, who also lost family in the fire, said, “This never would’ve happened to upper class people.”
The inquiry process will not deliver the justice that the Grenfell victims and their families deserve. It’s right to keep fighting to demand that those affected by the fire are rehoused in safe and secure homes now.
It’s also right to keep protesting over the contempt for ordinary people that goes right to the top.