Grenfell Tower: Tenants illegally subletting given legal protection in bid to establish death toll

Grenfell Tower tenants who were illegally subletting will not be prosecuted, the Government has announced in an attempt to help establish the number of victims of the deadly blaze.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said that new legal guidance would ensure anybody who was unlawfully renting out their property in the building would avoid charges.

It comes as authorities face increasing pressure to establish a total death toll, with some people alleging survivorsĀ had not come forward to report those living in their flat as missing due to fear of reprisal.

Police believe at least 80 people died in the blaze on Wednesday, June 14, but officials have said they may not know the final number of people killed until the end of the year.

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Prosecutors were issued the update by the Director of Public Prosecution in consultation with the Attorney General, “given the public interest must be in being able to identify the victims of the fire”.

Kensington and Chelsea Council will also follow the guidance, the Government confirmed.

The development was said to have come from “anecdotal evidence” suggesting there were a host of tenants who had been illegally subletting the property on the night of the fire.

Mr Javid said: “Supporting those affected by the tragic events at Grenfell Tower has been the absolute priority of the government. That includes making sure that loved ones still missing are identified.

“Therefore, I would urge those with information to come forward without fear of prosecution.”

Grenfell Tower death toll of about 80 came mainly from 23 flats

The guidance also applies for nearby Grenfell Walk, the Government said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: “It is a priority for investigators to establish who was in Grenfell Tower on that tragic day and it is crucial that we do everything possible to support them.”

Cladding on 181 tower blocks have now failed fire safety tests, with it believed the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower helped the fire spread.

Material from hundreds of buildings nationwide are being subjected to Government-backed fire safety tests in the aftermath of the blaze, which left at least 80 dead.

Towers in 51 local authority areas have failed the test – including 29 in Salford alone, the Government said.

Labour MP David Lammy called for the former Court of Appeal judge to forge closer links with victims so the process could maintain legitimacy in their eyes.

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“He is a white, upper-middle class man who I suspect has never, ever visited a tower block housing estate and certainly hasn’t slept the night on the 20th floor of one,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

“I hope he would do that in the days ahead.

“The job is not just to be independent and judicious – I am sure he is eminently legally qualified, of course he is – it is also to be empathetic and walk with these people on this journey.

“He needs to get close to those victims and survivors very, very quickly and establish he is after the truth and he is fearless and independent and won’t be swayed because he is part of the establishment.”

Meanwhile, the future of troubled Kensington and Chelsea Council was also called into question as one of its councillors suggested the crisis could spell “the end” of the authority.

Leader of the opposition Labour group Robert Atkinson, who was locked in a heated confrontation with leader Nicholas Paget-Brown last week, claimed ties with the community could be irreparable.

Both Mr Paget-Brown and deputy Rock Feilding-Mellen quit their roles amid ongoing criticism of the council’s handling of the disaster.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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