Sadiq Khan: residents must have their say in Grenfell Tower inquiry

Sadiq Khan today demanded that residents are given a say in the Grenfell Tower public inquiry from day one to make sure they retain confidence in the process.

He warned there was already “considerable mistrust and anger” among the local community, in particularly towards those in positions of authority.

The Mayor himself was heckled by an angry crowd when he visited the site of the devastating tower block fire last week to see what he could do to help.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, he warned that any attempt to exclude victims and their families could “further fuel mistrust” in the authorities.

Theresa May announced last week that there would be a full public inquiry into the inferno at the West London tower block which killed at least 79 people.

Mr Khan called on the Government to pay the legal fees of Grenfell residents so there would be no “inequality of arms” compared with the council and the construction firms. 

He stressed the importance of explaining the timescales involved and the likely milestones ahead to local residents, as well as the merits of an inquiry over an inquest at this stage.

The Mayor argued that a judge should be appointed to head up the inquiry, and that “immediate steps” are taken to make sure no evidence is destroyed.

He wrote: “Relations with the local community can be further strengthened by ensuring families, survivors and civil society groups have a role in drawing up the terms of reference for the public inquiry and are consulted on where inquiry hearings are held.

“Any attempt to exclude them from the process risks further fuelling mistrust. It is crucial that families, survivors and local civil society groups are designated as core participants so that they can play a full and active role in the process.”

He added: “In addition, the Government must confirm that families, survivors and local civil society groups will have their legal fees covered, including for the period of consultation on the terms of reference of the inquiry.

“It is likely that other parties in the public inquiry such as the local authority and construction firms will secure the very best legal representation and there must be no inequality of arms.”

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