Grenfell Tower: Treatment of residents' concerns ‘a disgrace,' Sadiq Khan tells inquiry

30 March 2021, 15:47

Sadiq Khan has described the treatment of Grenfell Tower resident's complaints as "a disgrace".
Sadiq Khan has described the treatment of Grenfell Tower resident's complaints as "a disgrace". Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The "dismissive treatment" of Grenfell Tower residents who made "prophetic complaints" about fire risks was a "disgrace", London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told the inquiry into the tragic blaze.

Legal submissions from the mayor state that he believes the “tragedy at Grenfell has uncovered institutional indifference towards those living in social housing on an alarming scale with catastrophic results".

On 14th June 2017, 72 people were killed in the fire at Grenfell Tower, which engulfed the 27-storey block in North Kensington.

Mr Khan’s comments come as the public inquiry into the disaster moves into its third phase, examining issues around social housing management, including risk assessments and handling of tenants’ criticisms.

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Sadiq Khan speaking to media the morning after the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Sadiq Khan speaking to media the morning after the fire at Grenfell Tower. Picture: PA

Lawyers for victims and their families on Monday severely criticised the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), which owned the block, and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), an arms-length body which ran it and oversaw the refurbishment.

A group of residents had written of their concern about health and safety problems in the building the 18 months before the blaze.

In a written statement to the inquiry, the mayor of London said he views the “the dismissive treatment of the tenants of Grenfell Tower when they were making justifiable and, as it turned out, prophetic complaints to be a disgrace”.

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He added: "The conduct of the KCTMO towards the residents of Grenfell Tower demonstrates a total failure in ensuring that Grenfell Tower was a safe place to live.

"Those that persevered with trying to get their complaints recognised, resolved or even taken seriously were branded as troublemakers.

"The tragedy at Grenfell has uncovered institutional indifference towards those living in social housing on an alarming scale with catastrophic results."

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72 people died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
72 people died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Picture: PA

Counsel Anne Studd QC, who delivered the mayor’s comments to the inquiry, added that KCTMO "manipulated the complaints system", including by failing to record telephone conversations, which were "therefore not acted upon as all knowledge of them was denied".

"Not only was this contrary to published policy, but it also discriminated against those who were unable to confidently register a written complaint in English," she said.

Another example included the act of a complaint being "downgraded to an 'inquiry'", she added.