Grenfell Tower fire: Inquiry's first report to be published today

30 October 2019, 06:37

The west London tower block following the blaze
The west London tower block following the blaze. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The first report into the Grenfell Tower disaster is set to be published on Wednesday morning giving survivors and bereaved family members the chance to respond publically.

On Monday the 1,000-page report was leaked online with copies seen by several news organisations. The Grenfell United group said their dignity was not respected following the leak, the group representing survivors, said it was "unacceptable" that some of those impacted were "drip-fed" the report by the media.

The report will be presented to Parliament and published at 10am on Wednesday.

As we reported yesterday the report concludes that fewer people would have died had residents been evacuated while it was still possible had the fire service dropped their controversial "stay put" policy.

The report also hits out at the Commissioner of London Fire Brigade calling the evidence she gave before the inquiry "remarkable insensitivity." Dany Cotton said she would not have done anything differently on the night when she led the response to the blaze.

The report said the Commissioner's evidence "betrayed an unwillingness to confront the fact that by 2017 the LFB knew (even if she personally did not) that there was a more than negligible risk of a serious fire in a high rise building with a cladding system."

The LFB Commissioner was at the scene on the night of the fire
The LFB Commissioner was at the scene on the night of the fire. Picture: PA

Ahead of the publication of the report Prime Minister Boris Johnson said survivors were owed the truth, and finally, the whole country would hear the truth about what happened.

Mr Johnson said: “I am very much aware that no report, no words, no apology will ever make good the loss suffered and trauma experienced. But I hope that the findings being published today, and the debate we are holding this afternoon, will bring some measure of comfort to those who suffered so much.

“They asked for the truth. We promised them the truth. We owe them the truth. And, today, the whole country, the whole world, is finally hearing the truth about what happened at Grenfell Tower on the 14th of June 2017.

“For the survivors, the bereaved, and the local community, this report will prove particularly harrowing.

“Yet I hope it strengthens their faith in the Inquiry’s desire to determine the facts of the fire – and in this government’s commitment to airing those facts in public, no matter how difficult they may be, and acting on them. That commitment is absolute.”

The west London tower block
The west London tower block. Picture: PA

The General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Matt Wrack said his frustration was that individual firefighters were subject to a "degree of scrutiny" which the Government was not.

Mr Wrack said: "Firefighters did not put flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower. Firefighters risked their own lives time and again during the fire."

Firefighters worked for days to tackle the blaze in 2017
Firefighters worked for days to tackle the blaze in 2017. Picture: PA

Campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said firefighters "have been made scapegoats of Phase 1 while the 'big' players seem to have got off scot-free".

The group is set to protest in Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster once the report has been published to highlight the fact that recommendations need the political will of the Government to be implemented.

The group said: "The film that we are using again as inspiration, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, highlights the power of advertising to bring about justice.

"We wanted to harness this power to remind people to pay attention to the report and to highlight that the government ignored the recommendations after the fire at Lakanal House in 2009.

"Also there is nothing on the statute books for recommendations of any public inquiry to be implemented, by a government."

Infra-red image taken from National Police Air Service (NPAS) footage shown before the Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Infra-red image taken from National Police Air Service (NPAS) footage shown before the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Picture: PA

The report highlights the "principal reason" the fire spread so quickly at the tower block was combustible aluminium composite material cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a "source of fuel".

The report also concluded the fire, in which 72 people died, started as the result of an "electrical fault in a large fridge-freezer" in a fourth-floor flat.

Retired high court judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick led the inquiry which criticised London Fire Brigade for its "stay-put" strategy when residents were told to remain in their flats by firefighters and 999 operators for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out just before 1am.

The strategy was rescinded at 2.47am.

Sir Martin said: "That decision could and should have been made between 1.30am and 1.50am and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities."

Sir Martin also highlighted the fact senior control room staff had not been given "appropriate training on how to manage a large-scale incident."

Four experienced members of the first crews to have fought the blaze had not received any training on the risks posed by exterior cladding or the techniques to be deployed in fighting fires involving cladding, the report found.