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A PROJECT manager for the Grenfell Tower refurbishment admitted today to binning her notebooks — despite knowing that a police investigation and public inquiry into the fire were under way.
Claire Williams, who worked for the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s tenant management organisation (TMO), said she got rid of the documents when she cleared her desk and left her job.
She left almost a year after the June 2017 fire, which killed 72 people and displaced about 223 more. The blaze was fuelled by flammable cladding installed during the 24-storey block’s refurbishment, which had finished just a month prior.
Ms Williams was questioned by the Grenfell Inquiry today after it emerged that her former colleague Peter Maddison had not disclosed notebooks containing “material of the utmost relevance” to the inquiry until the end of last week.
Ms Williams said she binned all but one of her notebooks, which she said “covered probably 2017 and 2018” and was in the posession of Kennedys, the TMO’s solicitors. Ms Williams said she may have thrown out “two or three notebooks” containing records dating back to 2013, when she joined the TMO.
“If the police didn’t take them, I binned them,” she said.
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick asked: “You binned them even though you knew, by that time, there was already on foot a public inquiry?”
Ms Williams replied: “Everything that was in there, I would have thought, is actually documented elsewhere.
“I think I just tidied up the desk. I would have looked at them and thought ‘there’s nothing here that isn’t in formal evidence’ and so I got rid of them.” She added that it “wasn’t a conscious, hiding anything decision” to throw them away.
She did not inform the Metropolitan Police about destroying the documents, saying it hadn’t previously occurred to her to do so.
Grenfell United, which represents survivors and bereaved families, said: “This is vital evidence which could bring the truth about the decisions and accountability of the events leading up to that horrific night.
“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the indifference these people have shown us and our loved ones never fails to shock and enrage.
“That they didn’t care enough to hand over anything and everything that could lead to the truth of what happened to our loved ones is devastating. What else is being hidden?
“We want to know why the police didn’t discover these notebooks before and whether they will investigate the potentially criminal admission of destroying evidence.”
Ms Williams’s colleague Mr Maddison, the TMO’s former director of assets and regeneration, will be giving evidence on Tuesday.
Today the inquiry heard that he will need to give a “clear and convincing” explanation as to why he failed to disclose “material of the utmost relevance” to the inquiry and to the police.
On Friday he handed over eight notebooks and five diaries covering all of his work at the TMO between January 2013 and May 2017.
As the inquiry continued, about 1,000 people were told to immediately leave their homes in a residential development in Brentford, west London, due to concerns over fire and structural safety.
Residents of the six-block Paragon estate, who include nearly 700 students from the University of West London, will be offered alternative accommodation while housing association Notting Hill Genesis carries out a “comprehensive safety review.”
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