Police delays hold up Lakanal inquest
Harriet Harman has hit out at delays to the inquest into the death of six people in a tower-block fire after it emerged police investigations will not be complete until September.
The leader of the House of Commons and MP for Camberwell has been told by the Met Police that the timescale for the inquests will depend on whether there are any prosecutions, and September was still ‘just an estimate’.
Fire, police and health and safety executive representatives originally told a pre-inquest hearing in December their reports would be ready in June. The fatal fire at Lakanal House, Camberwell, took place in July last year.
The inquest cannot take place until the police have finished their investigations, and any relevant details have been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Sir Thayne Forbes, a recently retired High Court judge who led the inquests into those murdered by Dr Harold Shipman, will head the Lakanal House proceedings.
He has agreed for the Sceaux Gardens Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations, which caters for residents in Lakanal House and the nearby Marie Curie block, to be an interested party at the inquest. Ms Harman is supporting an application for the group to get legal aid funding.
A legal representative for some of the victims’ families has appealed to Sir Forbes to back the families’ applications for legal aid to meet their costs.