London Grenfell fire inquiry judge accused of ‘social cleansing of the poor’

Published 29.06.2017 09:55
Updated 29.06.2017 10:20
emReuters File Photo/em
Reuters File Photo

The judge who is expected to head the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire in north London has previously been accused of "social cleansing of the poor," casting doubt on the inquiry's impartiality.

Retired Court of Appeal Judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick once ruled to relocate a tenant who was faced with homelessness 50 miles away from where she was then living. That relocation decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

Moore-Bick's main area of work was related to contracts, insurance and banking, although he did deal with some housing cases as well.

The UK government has promised state funding for the Grenfell residents' legal representation.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that a judge-led inquiry was necessary to ensure that the fire was "properly investigated."

The investigation so far has found that at least 80 people died in the fire, although Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack has said that the final death toll may not be known until the end of the year.

One difficulty in establishing the death toll, say police, is that the list of tenants provided by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organization is "not accurate."

The investigation is focusing on talking to friends, families and neighbors of the Grenfell Tower residents in order to reach an accurate number.

Some of the flats are still too unstable for police to enter safely, which has delayed a full count of those inside.

"There are 23 flats that despite huge investigative efforts, we have been unable to trace anyone that lives there. At this stage, we must presume that no one in those flats survived that includes anyone who lived there or was visiting them," said McCormack.

The intense heat of the fire may also make it impossible to identify some remains.

Police say that more than 60 companies and organizations were active in refurbishing the tower, and a criminal investigation is continuing to determine whether to bring manslaughter charges.

McCormack stated, "So far everybody has been compliant and we've actually been provided with a wealth of documents already."

Prime Minister May told the nation Wednesday that 120 other tower blocks in the country had been fitted with the same flammable cladding that helped the fire spread at Grenfell.

The National Housing Federation has said that Grenfell shows "a systemic failure in construction, manufacturing and the way that regulation has been applied."

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