Community group Grenfell United has said it is ‘hugely disappointing’ that an architect lined up for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry panel has been replaced by an engineer
The campaigners claimed the ‘big change’ to the panel line-up had been made without a ‘proper explanation’ and that it showed the wishes of the fire’s survivors were being ignored.
Architect Nabeel Hamdi had been due to sit on the three-person panel for phase two of the inquiry, which is due to start early this year.
Hamdi is an emeritus professor of housing at Oxford Brookes University who, according to the university, qualified as an architect at the Architectural Association in 1968. He worked for the Greater London Council between 1969 and 1978, where his housing projects cemented his reputation ‘in participatory design and planning’.
But a letter sent by prime minister Boris Johnson to inquiry chair Martin Moore-Bick revealed that Hamdi was ‘unable to proceed with the appointment’ with engineer Benita Mehra proposed as a replacement.
Moore-Bick has since confirmed the appointment of Mehra, who will now give up her job as director of strategic assets at the London Ambulance Service to take part in the inquiry.
Moore-Bick will also sit on the panel, which is completed by Thouria Istephan, partner and deputy head of technical design at Foster + Partners.
Grenfell United said the replacement of a community-minded expert with an engineer was ‘not what is needed’, adding that ‘yet again wishes of survivors and bereaved have been sidelined’.
We have lost a panelist with community expertise - replaced with an engineer, which is NOT what is needed. We have yet to get a proper explanation. With just weeks until phase 2 starts, yet again wishes of survivors & bereaved have been sidelined #grenfell @cabinetofficeuk— Grenfell United (@GrenfellUnited) December 24, 2019
A spokesperson for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry did not respond to a request for comment.
Phase two of the inquiry will focus on the circumstances and causes of the fire in June 2017, while phase one, which wrapped up in October, only sought to establish what happened on the night itself.
In his letter to Moore-Bick, Johnson also said the government would publish its formal response to the inquiry’s phase one report and its recommendation ‘once Parliament has returned from the Christmas break’.
He said the response would include information on different legislative options for implementing recommendations made by Moore-Bick and Judith Hackitt.