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Officials: No Charges for Grenfell Fire Until 2021

Monday, March 11, 2019

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Police investigating London’s fatal Grenfell Tower fire—a blaze in 2017 that killed more than 70 people—are now saying that they likely won’t be pressing any charges until 2021, after the public inquiry is complete.

Some Background

The Metropolitan Police Service announced shortly after the blaze that a criminal investigation had been opened and that they were considering manslaughter charges after revealing that the building’s insulation and cladding failed safety tests.

ChiralJon, CC-SA-BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Police investigating London’s fatal Grenfell Tower fire—a blaze in 2017 that killed more than 70 people—are now saying that they likely won’t be pressing any charges until 2021, after the public inquiry is complete.

“Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell Tower combusted soon after the tests started,” said Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack at the time. “The initial test on the cladding tiles also failed the safety tests.

“We will identify and investigate any criminal offense and, of course, given the deaths of so many people, we are considering manslaughter, as well as criminal offenses and breaches of legislation and regulations,” she said.

Composite aluminum panels with a polyethylene core (Reynobond PE), which were part of a recent refurbishment to the high-rise, are blamed for the fire's quick spread throughout the entirety of the building.

What Now

Although police are still considering individual and corporate manslaughter charges, detective Superintendent Matt Bonner, who is heading the investigation, said, “it would be wrong not to take into account evidence given to the public inquiry and its final report and findings.”

Natalie Oxford, CC-SA-BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Composite aluminum panels with a polyethylene core (Reynobond PE), which were part of a recent refurbishment to the high-rise, are blamed for the fire's quick spread throughout the entirety of the building.

The Guardian reports that inquiry lawyers are “swamped with 476,000 separate documents,” and that a timetable for the second phase of the public inquiry has yet to be released.

This means that any trials wouldn’t start until at least 2022—five years after the fire, which Grenfell United (a group that represents survivors and bereaved relatives of the deceased) says is “extremely frustrating and disheartening.”

“The week after a fire that killed our loved ones and neighbors, Theresa May promised us justice,” said Natasha Elcock, the chair of Grenfell United.

“Justice for us means accountability and change. And we see little real change. We are living in a limbo with no individuals or organizations being held accountable and it is so painful for all of us who lost loved ones and our homes that night. We wait month after month, our lives on hold, for some kind of justice and progress.”

“While the Grenfell Tower inquiry and the police investigation are independent of each other, our timelines are inextricably linked,” Bonner countered.

   

Tagged categories: EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Fatalities; Fire; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Safety

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (3/11/2019, 12:35 PM)

I'm glad this is the UK, where there are no statues of limitations for serious criminal charges....in the US, the parties would show up to court and the defendants would walk for it taking an unreasonable amount of time.


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