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GRENFELL families have accused corporations of being overcome by “amnesia” during the public inquiry into the fire and have condemned its chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick for “letting them off the hook.”
Private companies and public authorities who gave evidence last year were criticised for their “lack of candour” and “disrespect” by bereaved families and survivors of the west London tower block fire that killed 72 people in June 2017.
Individuals from local council the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the tenant management organisation responsible for the tower, the police and fire service were grilled during the inquiry’s first phase, while corporations involved in the refurbishment of the high-rise block were allowed to provide statements.
The criticism appears in a new report, entitled Family Reflections on Grenfell: No Voice Left Unheard, published today by the Inquest charity.
Inquest brought together bereaved families to reflect for the first time at a consultation day in February.
Members of 21 families attended, while others contributed through interviews and a survey. The final report includes contributions from the families of 55 of the 72 victims, all of which were anonymised.
One respondent said: “We all have lapses in memory. The bereaved and families from our side who went up to give evidence had an extraordinary level of recollection.
“In comparison, the corporate entities had an amnesia fix. The chair [Mr Moore-Bick] should have been stronger to say: ‘You have to try and recall’.”
Another person said: “There was no support in the immediate aftermath. It was absolutely crazy. Three days of wandering around hospitals trying to find some answers. It was all such a shambles.”
With the government and council unwilling or unable to help, members of the community relied on each other and on charities and faith groups.
They added: “We were very much left to our own devices. In those early hours, we began to network, building our own support network initially.
“We got help from Islamic Relief and Red Cross. They offered us shelter and support; they asked if anybody needed help.
“It was really tough for us as it was Ramadan and it was really hot.”
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox is one of the few public officials to have been praised by the families.
One said: “The coroner was also great. She kept the bodies together and that meant a lot to us.
“We could tell she was personally affected by what had happened.”
However, the inquests were adjourned pending the outcome of the public inquiry, a process which many families feel is compromised.
“I feel it’s heavily loaded towards the authorities, the corporates,” one said. “It just felt really wrong.”
The report comes as pressure is set to grow on the government in the run-up to the second anniversary of the tragedy on June 14.
Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, whose constituency includes Grenfell Tower, said the report was “moving and powerful” but “shouldn’t have been necessary.”
She added: “From Theresa May’s commitment to ‘rehouse everyone in three weeks’ to her promise that ‘no stone will be unturned’ to the endless prevarications on reviewing building regulations, the government has failed these families in a truly heartless and indefensible way.
“I hope there is some genuine response to this report. What little trust there was is eking away. People are angry.
“We need action not platitudes. And we need it now.”
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