Grenfell Tower: Judge leading enquiry ‘doubtful’ probe will satisfy vitctims

The judge leading an inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has said he is “doubtful” the probe will satisfy victims of the blaze.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who is set to take charge of the public inquiry into the fire, met with survivors near the Grenfell Tower site on Thursday.

But the judge, who once ruled a London tenant should be moved 50 miles away to Milton Keynes, said the probe would be limited to the cause, how it spread and prevention of future fires.

Furious protests have erupted over authorities role in the tragedy, with many residents in Grenfell Tower having raised fire safety concerns in the years before the fire.


Sir Martin Moore-Bick visiting the scene of the Grenfell Tower inquiry (PA)

It comes as the first Kensington and Chelsea council meeting held since the blaze descended in chaos as the presence of journalists would “prejudice” a public inquiry.    

Numerous residents had gathered outside and angrily demanded to enter the meeting.

Speaking to the BBC, the Sir Martin said: “I’m well aware the residents and the local people want a much broader investigation and I can fully understand why they would want that.

“Whether my inquiry is the right way in which to achieve that I’m more doubtful and I will give that some thought and in due course make a recommendation.”

He added: “But there may be other ways in which the desire for that investigation could be satisfied otherwise through the work that I’m going to do.”

Prime Minister Theresa May insisted residents will be given a say over the direction of the investigation.

As a lawyer, Sir Martin specialised in commercial law before spending more than 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal.

But concern has been raised about a judgement he made in 2014 when Sir Martin ruled in favour of Westminster City council in the case of tenant Titina Nzolameso.

The single mother-of-five was made homeless after resisting the council’s plan to move her to Milton Keynes because the benefit cap meant she could no longer stay in her four-bed flat.

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The death toll from the fire is now believed to be around 80, the vast majority of whom were from just 23 flats.

Survivors and the families of those who died in the devastating blaze will be given state funding for legal representation at the probe.

Sir Martin added: “I think it’s impossible to say how long it’s going to take; I have said on other occasions a matter of months, some people have talked about two or three months. I don’t think that’s realistic.

“I would hope to be able to answer the basic factual questions such as how did the fire start, how did it spread, how was it able to engulf the building in such speed and also questions such as what internal precautions there were, what steps were available for alerting residents and allowing them to escape.”

The Prime Minister said a full judge-led inquiry was needed to ensure the events at the 24-storey block were “properly investigated”.

Joe Delaney, 37, said Sir Martin “seems a genuine guy” but added: “He seems to want to keep the scope very narrow, to do with why the fire spread so quickly, while we are more looking at why was it started in the first place, why were residents ignored?

“Why were what have been proved to be legitimate concerns presented as fear-mongering.

“Can a technical insurance man like that deliver those answers? I don’t think so.”

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