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Grenfell survivors left ‘in limbo’ as police say no charges until 2021

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Survivors of the Grenfell fire have expressed frustration at being left in ‘limbo’ after Scotland Yard admitted it did not expect criminal charges to be brought for at least two years

The campaign group Grenfell United said it was ‘extremely frustrating and disheartening’ that the Metropolitan Police would not hand a file to prosecutors until the end of the public inquiry into the fire, which happened on 14 June 2017, killing 72 people.

Its chair, Natasha Elcock, said: ‘We know the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower turned our homes into a death trap and we know that people, organisations and institutions that were meant to care for us didn’t and 72 people died.

‘And yet no one has been held accountable. On this timeline, Theresa May risks leaving office without a single trial starting. As bereaved families and survivors, we urgently need reassurances from government that justice and change will come.’

In a statement, Scotland Yard said it would be ’wrong’ to bring any charges before the final report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

The second phase of the inquiry, which will investigate the tower’s refurbishment, is unlikely to begin before the end of this year.

Detective superintendent Matt Bonner said: ‘I know this is longer than some might have anticipated, but the police must ensure all the available evidence is considered before any file is submitted to the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service].’

Elcock also expressed frustration at the lack of a timetable for the second phase of the inquiry, and on the slow progress in replacing combustible cladding on high-rise blocks in England.

‘It is now 21 months since the fire,’ she said. ‘Thousands of people are still living in homes with dangerous cladding, people in social housing are still being mistreated by landlords and Grenfell families still wait for any kind of justice.’

Chair of the Grenfell inquiry Martin Moore-Bick has said he hopes to complete his report on the first phase of the inquiry by spring.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Industry Professional

    I would be interested to read any legal opinions on the proposed timescale of the trials for Grenfell. I thought it was normal for prosecutions raised by the Police to take preference over any made by the HSE. In this case the 2 stage inquiry is apparently taking preference over both.
    I can understand how the Police want to make sure that they have the strongest chance of any prosecution to avoid problems in any trial later but I can also understand some people's frustrations and fears of a cover-up or white-wash.
    Even in the case of a case raised by the HSE, my recollection is that it can be up to 4 years between an incident happening and the outcome of a prosecution regarding it being known.

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  • Using Hillsborough as a relevant precedent should mean that Grenfell will take decades...these were both systemic failures, which spreads potential accountability very wide. The Poulson Affair might also be another useful precedent, from the mid-seventies. The architect and criminal, John Garlick Llewelyn Poulson L/FRIBA was eventually jailed for seven years for corruption, along with a number of politicians. Poulson felt that he was a scapegoat and ‘more sinned against than sinning’. He wrote his side of the story in a book called ‘The Price’, but the publication was suppressed and banned.

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  • The huge amounts of evidence that the police are having to shift through and indeed contractual routes mean its hardly a simple case to solve for the police. While clearly there were huge faults with the construction and installation of the refurbishment its no good trying to charge the wrong people just to do it quickly. Better to take there time and get it right the first time rather than putting the survivors and victims families through years and years of turmoil without proper answers.

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