Tenants and residents slammed Sir Martin Moore-Bick at a furious meeting of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire last night, Thursday.
Moore-Bick is the head of the inquiry into the fire.
So far the establishment has treated survivors with utter contempt. Moore-Bick has said survivors and friends and families of the dead would be “disappointed” with the scope of the inquiry.
At last night’s meeting he said he would “go away and think about” what those present had said. “Can I just confirm that you’re all happy all this goes on ice for four weeks?”
That suggestion met with uproar.
Moore-Bick wants time to consider widening the “terms of reference” of the inquiry. But survivors want the inquiry to begin immediately – and say its terms of reference can change once it has begun.
Moore-Bick told those at last night’s meeting, “You don’t respect me because you’ve said the government has appointed me to do a hatchet job.
“If I can’t satisfy you because you have some preconception of me, that’s up to you.
The anger and organisation of survivors and campaigners can force the inquiry in the direction it needs to go. That is towards criminal prosecutions of the Tenant Management Organisation that managed Grenfell Tower, the leadership of the council and government ministers who created the conditions that lay behind the disaster.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott this week defended the right of undocumented migrant survivors of the fire not to live in fear of deportation.
“It is necessary to offer a full immigration amnesty,” she wrote. “It is a basic humanitarian measure to ensure survivors are not deterred from seeking the support that should be theirs as a right.”
The Tories have offered undocumented survivors a 12-month reprieve on deportation if they come forward.This pushes them to decide whether to come forward and demand justice for those who died or keep quiet and have more chance of staying in Britain.
No one should have to make such a brutal calculation. Abbott’s position is entirely correct.
Theresa May previously said the Tories would “not use this tragic incident to carry out immigration checks on those involved or on those providing vital information to identify victims or those assisting with the criminal investigation”.
But they are now placing conditions on people’s ability to access justice.
Immigration minister Brandon Lewis said the year’s reprieve will “provide survivors with the time to deal with the extremely difficult circumstances in which they find themselves and start to rebuild their lives.”
Campaigning and demonstrating has forced the Tories to this position, oefully inadequate and hypocritical as it is. Now we can push for more.
A demonstration outside the next Kensington and Chelsea council cabinet meeting on 19 July will be a key date in that struggle.
Local government minister Sajid Javid announced yesterday, Thursday, that administrators would be sent to Kensington and Chelsea council to take over key services.
The news comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan called for the entire council to be taken over and run by unelected commissioners.
Council leaders created the conditions that led to Grenfell – including the wholesale privatisation of council services.
Contractors were brought in and subcontracted other firms in turn.A drive to save money made Grenfell Tower less safe. And lack of democratic control over the places ordinary people live saw councillors repeatedly ignore and sideline residents’ warnings.
Unelected technocrats are not the answer. We need more democracy, not less.
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle