The chair of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has insisted its second phase will start early next year despite delays in publishing a report into the first phase of its investigation
An update from Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the inquiry, insisted it still aims to shift its focus in January from events on the night of the fire to how the housing block came to be in such a dangerous condition.
Hearings took place throughout the second half of last year into what happened on 14 June, 2017, when 72 people died in the fire at the west London tower.
A report summarising the initial findings was expected to be published in the next few weeks, but the inquiry has now said this is unlikely to appear before October.
‘Writing the Phase 1 report has proved to be a far more complex and time-consuming task than the inquiry had originally anticipated,’ it said in a letter to key parties.
‘There is a significant volume of evidence to be reviewed and detailed work to be done to ensure findings are properly tied to all relevant parts of the evidence.’
Before it can be finalised, Moore-Bick must also write to individuals and organisations criticised in the report to give them an opportunity to respond.
But the letter added: ‘Preparation for the Phase 2 hearings is continuing in parallel with the preparation of the Phase 1 report.
‘Phase 2 is focused on establishing how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition that allowed a tragedy of this scale to occur. The inquiry continues to plan for Phase 2 hearings to commence in January 2020.’
Responding to the news Natasha Elcock, who chairs the Grenfell United group for the fire’s survivors and bereaved, said: ‘It’s disgraceful the inquiry has underestimated the complexity of the evidence that was produced in phase 1 and has further delayed the report until autumn.
‘That we are only finding this out now, when we were expecting the report to be published ahead of the two-year anniversary, shows how they continue to disregard survivors and bereaved through this process.
‘It took courage for survivors to give evidence in the first part of the inquiry. We put our faith in Martin Moore-Bick to make change. Six months after hearing our evidence, the inquiry is yet to make a single recommendation to keep people safe in their homes.’
Former RIBA president Paul Hyett was appointed as architectural expert witness to the inquiry in November 2018.
He replaced John Priestley of John Priestley Associates, who was last summer removed from his role just two days after being appointed when it emerged that he had not been on the Architects Registration Board’s register for the previous eight years.
A fire chief told the inquiry last September of his shock that the building failed so ‘catastrophically’ when the blaze spread.