ao link

Grenfell Tower Inquiry diary week 45: ‘Don’t you find all this rather a surprising debate, given that the Equality Act was passed in 2010?’

The inquiry heard from expert witness Colin Todd this week, who gave his views about the work of risk assessor Carl Stokes as well as answered questions about his own guidance. Peter Apps and Nathaniel Barker report 

Linked InTwitterFacebookeCard
Sharelines

The inquiry heard from expert witness Colin Todd this week, who gave his views about the work of risk assessor Carl Stokes as well as answered questions about his own guidance. Peter Apps and Nathaniel Barker report #UKhousing

Colin Todd plays an interesting role at this inquiry.

Officially, his job is to act as an expert witness – an independent judge of what could reasonably have been expected of the tower’s fire risk assessor Carl Stokes.

But he is also an active player in the story, having led the work to write a key fire safety guidance – particularly a document aimed specifically at purpose-built blocks of flats in 2011.

So, his witness evidence mixed his independent view of the role of Mr Stokes with questions about whether his own guidance was sufficient.

We will start our recap with the issue of evacuation.

‘So does that tell us that people thought that stay put meant you didn’t have to think about evacuating disabled people?’

Colin Todd gave evidence to the inquiry this week (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
Colin Todd gave evidence to the inquiry this week (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)

The inquiry has already heard that no personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) were prepared for the many disabled residents in Grenfell Tower.

Many of them became trapped during the blaze. The inquiry has heard that 41% of the disabled residents present in the tower on the night of the fire died, a higher proportion than any other group.

Mr Todd is at the centre of a storm of controversy about this. His consultancy prepared guidance for the Local Government Association (LGA) in 2011 (endorsed by the government), which witnesses from Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) have said they followed in relation to the issue of PEEPs.

This guide advised managers of blocks of flats that it was “usually unrealistic” to write evacuation plans for residents with disabilities.

During his evidence, we heard that a very strong warning was issued in 2011, not long after the guide was published. A consultant wrote to the LGA to tell the organisation that the advice could result in “an unnecessary tragedy” and “reflects an outdated viewpoint which is highly discriminative and not in line with UK legislation”.

This letter was forwarded to government officials and Mr Todd for a response. They replied to say that it was not “reasonable and practical” to recommend evacuation plans for disabled people “by way of default in all blocks of flats”.

Mr Todd stood by these views when he gave evidence this week.

He was read passages from the relevant legislation – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – which requires that “in the event of danger, it must be possible for persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and as safely as possible”.

Asked if this implied a need to ensure escape was possible without the assistance of firefighters, Mr Todd said: “Other than for disabled people in blocks of flats.”

Mr Todd said this approach was justified because the legislation included the cavaet “where necessary” and in a general needs block with no staff it would not be “practicable” to arrange for evacuation of those with mobility issues.

He called the Grenfell Tower fire “a dreadful, dreadful, obscene anomaly”, but claimed disabled residents were generally most at risk from fire within their own flats – meaning evacuation was not the most important consideration in their safety.

“So does that tell us that people thought that stay put meant that you didn’t have to think about evacuating disabled people?” asked counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC.

“Some would take a different view from what I’m about to say, sir, but I would say that the majority view was exactly that,” replied Mr Todd.

This position was complicated by contradictory advice in another document – PAS 79 – for which Mr Todd was the “technical author”.

This guide, prepared for the British Standards Institution, offered a model methodology for risk assessors and was first published in 2005, with updates in 2007 and 2012. It did explicitly recommend that arrangements for evacuation of disabled occupants be considered.

When asked about the contradiction, Mr Todd said PAS 79 was written with commercial, not residential, buildings in mind. But nowhere in the guidance was this made clear.

“Is it right that the fire risk assessment trade regarded it as appropriate to take a different approach to disabled people in high-rise residential buildings from the approach they would take in an office block?” asked Mr Millett.

“That would have been the majority opinion, sir, yes, although people will, with the benefit of the lens of hindsight, argue about that now,” replied Mr Todd.

“Is there anything in the legislation or the guidance which would justify that majority opinion?” asked Mr Millett.

“I’m not sure that I can point to anything. It’s a matter of reasonable practicability, sir,” replied Mr Todd.

“Sitting there today, don’t you find all this rather a surprising debate, given that, for example, the Equality Act was passed in 2010?” asked Mr Millett.

Mr Todd said he did not find it “terribly surprising” because if the flats were built correctly, stay put can be “extremely favourable to disabled people”.

The Home Office has recommissioned Mr Todd’s consultancy to prepare new post-Grenfell guidance.

‘Was that persistent failure over those years consistent with your expectations of what a reasonably competent fire risk assessor should or would have done?’

Richard Millett QC, lead counsel to the inquiry (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
Richard Millett QC, lead counsel to the inquiry (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)

So what of Mr Stokes’ work on this point? But he did consider the issue of disability in his risk assessments and gave it a specific section in all four assessments he carried out on the tower between 2012 and 2016.

Mr Todd recorded this as a “positive finding” in his report, noting that: “There is consideration of disabled people.”

But what Mr Stokes actually wrote in his assessments left something to be desired. In each report, he cut and pasted the same statement with only very minor alterations.

This said there was no evidence of any residents with an impairment which would prevent them hearing a shouted warning of fire.

He added that KCTMO was planning to gather further information and this would be used in the preparation of PEEPs if necessary. But he never, across four years, chased up this information from KCTMO.

“Was that persistent failure over those years consistent with your expectations of what a reasonably competent fire risk assessor should or would have done?” asked Mr Millett.

Mr Todd said he would have expected the risk assessor to ask about arrangements for disabled residents and for the building owner to “have some high-level generic information, but no greater detail than that”.

‘Did anybody ever ask themselves what the basis of excluding the external wall from the scope of the [assessment] actually was?’

An email from Colin Todd from December 2016 which was released by the inquiry this week (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
An email from Colin Todd from December 2016 which was released by the inquiry this week (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)

Mr Stokes’ risk assessments did not make any detailed assessment of the building’s external cladding system which, as we now know, turned out to be the primary cause of the rapid fire spread.

He did however write – in an assessment completed in 2016 as the refurbishment came to an end – that the materials used in the system were “fire-rated” and later told KCTMO when asked directly that the cladding complied with building regulations.

This was said despite his lack of knowledge of cladding, or any understanding of the type of materials used. But Mr Todd would not criticise the advice Mr Stokes gave on this point.

He said the cladding had “supposedly been installed under the watchful eye” of building control and “if they’d done their job properly as Mr Stokes assumed, then there wouldn’t have been a problem”.

“He’s absolutely gone far enough, sir, in my opinion,” Mr Todd insisted.

His belief was that consideration of the external wall was not required in a fire risk assessment. He said this view was held “very close to universally” in the profession.

But Mr Millett queried this, pointing out that while the legislation excluded domestic premises, there was nothing to say external walls should be excluded.

“What I’m getting from you is that people assumed… that the external wall was outside the scope of the [legislation] without really thinking about it?” said Mr Millett.

“That may be a little unfair to some colleagues in the profession, but I think it’s probably a reasonable assertion,” replied Mr Todd.

The inquiry was also shown an email from December 2016, when a senior member of the London Fire Brigade (LFB) asked Mr Todd if he had any guidance for assessors who did want to consider cladding – due to some concerns in the fire service about cladding.

Mr Todd responded, saying that he had spoken with Brian Martin, a senior civil servant within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and they “come up with a proposal” to require checks for buildings taller than 18 metres “where there is good reason to suspect that external cladding could readily support external fire spread”.

But such a change was not made before the fire.

The email – which had not previously been released – is the latest in a string of evidence that show warnings about cladding fires reached central government before the tragedy in June 2017.

Mr Martin will face extensive questioning when the inquiry turns to central government in the autumn. In his evidence, Mr Todd described Mr Martin as a “personal friend”.

‘I might not want to buy a second-hand car from him, but he might be perfectly competent at fixing the car’

Carl Stokes gave evidence to the inquiry in May (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
Carl Stokes gave evidence to the inquiry in May (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)

Another major question in the inquiry has been whether Mr Stokes was an appropriate candidate to carry out risk assessments of KCTMO’s buildings and whether he presented his qualifications accurately.

Mr Stokes had worked for the fire service for two decades, which included a period of auditing risk assessments completed by others.

He then retired from the fire service, before completing a short training course and setting himself up as a risk assessor. Mr Todd delivered the training course.

Mr Todd’s view was that Mr Stokes’ qualifications were “suitable for the purpose of carrying out [risk assessments] for Grenfell Tower”.

It is important to emphasise here that there are no statutory competency requirements for fire risk assessors at all.

Mr Todd himself had drafted guidelines on what should be expected, but they were never made mandatory.

This, Mr Todd said, was a deliberate choice of government to reduce “burdens on business”.

“The government were very clear that to have required fire risk assessors to be competent, it would imply to the business community that they’d have to go out and buy in the services of a specialist,” he said. “And the Fire Safety Order was brought in in the name of reducing burdens on business.”

But what of how Mr Stokes presented his qualifications? The inquiry previously heard that he included a series of ‘post-nominals’ on his CV which related to qualifications he did not hold or did not exist.

Mr Stokes has said he did not know how post-nominals should be used and that he was simply trying to reflect training courses he had attended.

But Mr Todd was critical of this, saying his impression was that Mr Stokes was trying to “big himself up” and that this had the potential to mislead clients.

However, he said that there was “no need for him to do this” as his actual qualifications were perfectly adequate.

“I might not want to buy a second-hand car from him, but he might be perfectly competent at fixing the car, if I could use that analogy,” said Mr Todd.

‘Would you seriously describe as meticulous the work of a fire risk assessor who… pasted text into an [assessment] where it was completely inapposite?’

In general, Mr Todd called Mr Stokes’ work assessing the tower “quite meticulous”.

This was despite mistakes in his assessments which arose from cutting and pasting between documents.

For example, he said pigeon netting on balconies at Grenfell Tower did not present a risk. The tower had neither pigeon netting or balconies.

In his report, Mr Todd said this practice gave him only “slight concern”.

“Would you seriously describe as meticulous the work of a fire risk assessor who cut text from an [assessment] for building A and pasted that into an [assessment] for building B where it was completely inapposite?” asked Mr Millett.

“He went into incredible detail, but you would then have to sort out which of that detail was something of a cut and paste and which was specific and unique to the building,” said Mr Todd.

Mr Millett pressed him on this answer, pointing out that the failure indicated Mr Stokes “did not bother to read his own work before signing it off”. “Why is that something that only gives you slight concern? It’s quite a serious problem, isn’t it?” he asked.

Mr Todd accepted he may need to delete the word “slight”.

Lawyers acting for the bereaved have argued against Mr Todd’s evaluation of Mr Stokes’ work, with one saying aspects of his report “create the impression [he] is at pains to exonerate Stokes”.

Mr Todd did, however, criticise Mr Stokes’ work related to the smoke ventilation system at Grenfell Tower.

This crucial system which removes smoke from communal areas was known to be “beyond economic repair” for six years between 2010 and 2016.

Mr Stokes’ failed to raise concerns about the lack of information he was given regarding the operation and maintenance of the system

Mr Todd said that, as a result, Mr Stokes should have concluded the risk at Grenfell Tower to be “moderate” rather than “tolerable” and failing to do so “fell below acceptable standards”.

‘Are you aware of this reoccurring fault?’

Abigail Acosta led the programme to replace fire doors in Kensington and Chelsea (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
Abigail Acosta led the programme to replace fire doors in Kensington and Chelsea (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)

Earlier in the week, the inquiry heard from Abigail Acosta, a project manager who oversaw the replacement of fire doors in blocks of flats across KCTMO’s stock in the early 2010s.

This programme is significant because the doors fitted were not up to standard. They did not have the requisite smoke leakage certification, did not meet the 30-minute fire-resistance standard they were advertised as possessing and had a critical flaw with the self-closing device.

The doors were procured via the London Housing Consortium (LHC) procurement network, a list of approved contractors and suppliers for social landlords in London. They were Manse Masterdor products, which are widely used in the sector.

Ms Acosta accepted that KCTMO received no actual fire-testing information when it purchased the doors, just a brochure and a series of product certificates from Masterdor.

“Do you accept that, absent those fire test certificates, the TMO could not be certain that the doors had been tested to the relevant regulatory standards?” asked counsel to the inquiry Andrew Kinnier QC.

“Yes,” replied Ms Acosta.

A sample of the doors were inspected on installation by a representative of the LHC, who reported that the “door supplied was of a good quality and professionally installed”.

But these checks only viewed just over 10% of the doors installed. “At the time, were you satisfied that inspecting 137 out of nearly 1,200 was acceptable for your purposes?” asked Mr Kinnier.

“Yes, at the time, yes,” replied Ms Acosta.

A major issue that the inquiry has uncovered is faulty self-closers. Evidence from Grenfell Tower residents and a former caretaker suggested that the closing device was prone to jamming or falling out.

This was believed to be due to the use of screws which were too small and, in some instances, broken closers on the new doors were disconnected by KCTMO staff and not replaced.

There were a large number of missing or defective self-closers in Grenfell Tower, which is believed to have been a major contributing factor to the rapid spread of smoke through communal areas on the night of the fire.

The inquiry saw an email from Mr Stokes to Ms Acosta in July 2011 which read: “On Tuesday I was at Lancaster West [the estate where Grenfell Tower is located] and was informed that the self-closing device on three of the new flat entrance doors have come away from the door, this is the same problem as in King Charles House [another block]. Are you aware of this reoccurring fault?”

Ms Acosta said she raised this with Manse Masterdor, which did replace the screws on some doors, but only those where a fault had been identified, not throughout the stock.

‘I’m very confused as to what was actually thought to be required’

Beryl Menzies gave expert evidence on the issue of smoke control (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
Beryl Menzies gave expert evidence on the issue of smoke control (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)

The week’s proceedings were rounded off with three-and-a-half hours of evidence from expert witness Beryl Menzies, an experienced building engineer specialising in fire safety.

Ms Menzies was principally asked technical questions about a report she produced for the inquiry which scrutinised the work of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s (RBKC) building control department regarding the smoke control system installed in the tower.

Remember that RBKC had previously admitted multiple failings by building control in signing off the refurbishment.

The smoke control system at Grenfell Towe was altered using a bespoke design during the refurbishment, having been in a sorry state before that point.

The inquiry heard that it leaked smoke onto multiple floors on the night of the fire.

It did not comply with building regulations, but those involved in its design have argued that would have been impossible given the nature of the building so they tried to do the best they could.

The aim was to achieve a performance of smoke being sucked out of lobbies at two metres per second and this is what was promised to building control.

Ms Menzies felt that this performance-based design for the system “was acceptable in principle”. However, she concluded that building control ended up wrongly accepting the system’s compliance based only on a rather basic check carried out by a third party in April 2016.

She could find no evidence that building control officers ever “confirmed or witnessed the physical path of the air (smoke) movements away from the stair and that there was no significant inflow from other leakage paths such as the fire flat”.

That failure, she told the inquiry, fell below the standard of a reasonably competent building control body.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry will now break for five weeks and will resume with the evidence from expert Dr Barbara Lane, the final witness for this phase, in September.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry headlines: week 45

Grenfell Tower Inquiry headlines: week 45

Warning government-endorsed fire safety guide could lead to tragedy issued in 2011

The Local Government Association was warned a decade ago that fire safety guidance it had published could lead to an “unnecessary tragedy” because of its failure to recommend evacuation plans for disabled residents, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry heard.

Industry did not believe legal obligations for evacuation applied to disabled people in blocks of flats, expert tells inquiry

Legal obligations to make provision for safe evacuation of residents were understood by the industry not to apply to disabled people in blocks of flats, an expert witness has told the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Government set no standards for competence of risk assessors to reduce ‘burdens on business’

The government declined to set standards for the competence of fire risk assessors because of its focus on “deregulation” and reducing “burdens on business”, an expert witness has told the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two: weekly diaries

Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two: weekly diaries

Module one

Week one: A vivid picture of a broken industry

After a week of damning revelations at the opening of phase two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Peter Apps recaps the key points

Click here to read the full story

Week two: What is the significance of the immunity application?

Sir Martin Moore-Bick has written to the attorney general requesting protection for those set to give evidence at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Peter Apps explains what the move means

Click here to read the full story

Week three: Architects of misfortune

This week saw the lead architects for the Grenfell Tower refurbishment give evidence to the inquiry. Peter Apps runs through the key points

Click here to read the full story

Week four: ‘I didn’t have any perception that it was the monster it’s become’

The architects continued to give evidence this week, outlining a lack of understanding of the fire risk posed by the cladding materials and its design. Nathaniel Barker reports

Click here to read the full story

Week five: ‘No adverse effect in relation to external fire spread’

As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry returns from its long absence, Peter Apps recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the fire consultants to the refurbishment

Click here to read the full story

Week six: ‘I can’t recall any instance where I discussed the materials with building control’

Nathaniel Barker summarises what we learned from fire engineers Exova, architects Studio E and the early evidence from contractor Rydon

Click here to read the full story

Week seven: ‘I do not think I have ever worked with a contractor operating with this level of nonchalance’

Two key witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Peter Apps recaps some of the key points from a revealing week of evidence

Click here to read the full story

Week eight: ‘It haunts me that it wasn't challenged’

Four witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Lucie Heath recaps what we learned on the last week of evidence before the inquiry breaks for five weeks

Click here to read the full story

Week nine: ‘All I can say is you will be taken out for a very nice meal very soon’

This week the inquiry heard evidence from witnesses at Harley Facades, the sub-contractor responsible for Grenfell Tower’s cladding. Peter Apps recaps the key points

Click here to read the full story

Week 10: ‘As we all know, ACM will be gone rather quickly in a fire!’

As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry entered its 10th week, Jack Simpson recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the refurbishment’s cladding contractor

Click here to read the full story

Week 11: ‘Did you get the impression Grenfell Tower was a guinea pig for this insulation?’

With witnesses from the cladding subcontractor, the firm which cut the deadly panels to shape and the clerk of works which inspected the job giving evidence this was week full of revelations. Peter Apps recaps the key points

Click here to read the full story

Week 12: ‘Would you accept that was a serious failing on your part?’

With the surveyor who inspected Grenfell Tower for compliance giving evidence, this was a crucial week from the inquiry. Dominic Brady and Peter Apps report

Click here to read the full story

Week 13: ‘Value for money is to be regarded as the key driver for this project’

With consultants to Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) giving evidence, attention at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry turned for this first time to the actions of the TMO and the council. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 14: ‘Did it not occur to you at this point that your budget was simply too low?’

This week, for the first time in phase two, the inquiry heard from Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, the landlord that oversaw the fatal refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Lucie Heath reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 15: ‘Have you ever informed the police that you destroyed documents relevant to their investigation?’

Witnesses from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) gave evidence for a second week, which began with a shocking revelation about withheld and destroyed evidence. Peter Apps recaps

Click here to read the full story

Week 16: ‘I conclude this was very serious evidence of professional negligence’

This week saw members of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation finish giving evidence, before the inquiry’s expert witnesses took the stand to make some highly critical assessments of the work they had seen before and during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Jack Simpson recaps

Click here to read the full story

Grenfell Tower: a timeline of the refurbishment

Following the conclusion of module one of the Grenfell Inquiry’s second phase, Peter Apps presents a timeline of the key moments during the fatal refurbishment of the west London tower block

Click here to read the full story

Module two

Week 17: ‘It’s hard to make a note about this because we are not clean’

The start of the second module of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two came with some huge revelations about the companies that sold the products used in the cladding system. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 18: ‘It was just reckless optimism wasn't it?’

As the inquiry began cross-examining witnesses for the second module of its phase two work, the picture surrounding just how Grenfell Tower ended up wrapped in such dangerous materials became a little clearer. Nathaniel Barker was keeping an eye on proceedings

Click here to read the full story

Week 19: ‘And that was intentional, deliberate, dishonest?’

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry this week heard the shocking story of how the insulation manufacturer “manipulated” official testing and marketed its product “dishonestly”. Peter Apps tells the story

Click here to read the full story

Week 20: ‘We were outed by a consultant who we then had to fabricate a story to’

This week the inquiry investigated the actions of Kingspan – the manufacturer of one of the insulation products used in the tower’s cladding system. Dominic Brady reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 21: ‘It’s there in black and white isn't it? We see a complete absence of any consideration of life safety’

The story of insulation giant Kingspan’s testing and marketing of its combustible insulation for high rises was unpacked in minute detail this week. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 22: ‘All we do is lie in here’

In the third week of evidence from insulation giant Kingspan, the inquiry continued to uncover shocking details about the firm’s behaviour both before and after the Grenfell Tower fire. Lucie Heath reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 23: ‘That would have come as an earthquake to you at the time, would it not?’

This week the inquiry took its deepest dive yet into the inner workings of the cladding manufacturer whose product has been blamed for the terrible spread of fire up Grenfell Tower. Nathaniel Barker reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 24: ‘Do you accept that Test 5B was Arconic's deadly secret’

The president of the firm that made and sold the cladding panels installed on Grenfell Tower was asked to account for the apparent concealment of “disastrous” fire tests on the product this week. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 25: ‘This is quite an incredible list of omissions and missed instances, isn’t it?’

This week the Grenfell Tower Inquiry heard its first witnesses from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) - the testing house which carried out key fire tests on the Kingspan and Celotex insulation products which were later used on Grenfell Tower. Peter Apps reports.

Click here to read the full story

Week 26: 'You were taking an enormous risk, weren't you?'

Week 26 at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry was a key moment in understanding how dangerous products used on the tower came to be accepted by industry professionals. Dominic Brady reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 27: ‘What will happen if one building made out [of] PE core is in fire and will kill 60 to 70 persons?’

The most explosive evidence this week at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry came from those who did not attend, as the evidence which would have been presented to Arconic witnesses was displayed in their absence. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 28: ‘This is a serious safety matter’

This week the Grenfell Tower Inquiry zeroed in on the British Board of Agrément, the body that produced “misleading” certificates which inspired trust in both the cladding and insulation used on the tower. Lucie Heath reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 29: ‘Is it true that Kingspan’s position… was to do its best to ensure that science was secretly perverted for financial gain?’

The final week in this section of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry primarily examined the attempts by insulation manufacturer Kingspan to lobby government after the fire. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

How the products used in Grenfell Tower's cladding system were tested and sold

As the section of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry examining how the products used in the cladding system were tested, marketed and sold comes to a close, Peter Apps summarises what we have learned about each of the products included in the system

Click here to read the full story

Module Three

Week 30: ‘There is certainly a high probability that in the event of a fire the whole building can become an inferno’

The focus of the inquiry shifted this week to the actions of the social housing providers responsible for maintaining Grenfell Tower. Pete Apps recaps what we learned

Click here to read the full story

Week 31: ‘If we cannot get out people will die’

This week saw the former residents of Grenfell Tower enter the witness box to tell of their experiences attempting to raise complaints with the council and its managing agent. Pete Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 32: ‘Let's hope our luck holds and there isn't a fire’

This week saw the return of the landlord of Grenfell Tower, Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), as senior staff members attempted to explain how vital fire safety protections at the block were allowed to fall into disrepair. Lucie Heath reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 33: ‘Isn't that a serious gap in the scope of a policy meant to safeguard vulnerable people?’

A slightly disjointed week at the Grenfell Tower inquiry saw further evidence from staff at building manager Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) interspersed with the views of a cladding expert. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 34: ‘Some members of the community are doing their best to spread false information’

Jack Simpson covers all the major revelations from the past week of evidence at the Grenfell Inquiry, including evidence from Laura Johnson, director of housing at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Click here to read the full story

Week 35: ‘I really didn’t like the champagne’

This week the Grenfell Tower Inquiry saw council witnesses, including former deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen and leader Nicholas Paget-Brown, questioned about their role in the story for the first time. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 36: ‘Is that not a very incurious approach for a fire risk assessor?’

This week the Grenfell Tower Inquiry scrutinised the work of Carl Stokes, the man hired to carry out fire risk assessments for the block. Nathaniel Barker reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 37: ‘In giving that advice, weren’t you acting beyond your knowledge and expertise?’

A curtailed week at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry saw fire risk assessor Carl Stokes grilled over advice he gave regarding the tower’s cladding. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 38: ‘Well it’s a bit more than that, isn’t it. He’s suggesting that you tell the LFB a lie’

The inquiry heard the mammoth cross-examination of KCTMO’s health and safety manager Janice Wray this week. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 39: ‘What you said there was a grotesque understatement’

This week the inquiry continued to hear from former employees of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, as well as two employees from the London Fire Brigade. Lucie Heath reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 40: ‘An exercise in concealment and half-truth’

Former KCTMO chief executive Robert Black gave his evidence to the inquiry this week and was asked to account for the various failures described over the previous six weeks. Peter Apps and Nathaniel Barker report.

Click here to read the full story

Week 41: ‘We should do nothing. This is not the sort of website we should be responding to’

This week saw the return of Robert Black, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), before the inquiry turned its attention to the defective smoke control system in the tower. Dominic Brady reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 42:‘They would leak as much as they leaked. They were what they were’

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry continued its in-depth investigation of the tower’s non-compliant smoke control system this week, with evidence from the various contractors involved in delivering it. Pete Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 43:‘Contractors at the time were not generally aware of the importance of leaving holes unsealed’

This week the inquiry focused on two of the more overlooked areas of the Grenfell Tower fire, with evidence focusing on the gas pipelines and lifts within the west London block. It was a packed week, with five witnesses giving evidence. Jack Simpson reports

Click here to read the full story

Week 44:‘I've never seen a fully compliant firefighting lift in any local authority building, to this day actually’

This week the inquiry turn the focus onto the building’s defective lifts, with evidence from an expert, contractors who worked on them and a former engineer at KCTMO. Pete Apps reports.

Click here to read the full story

Week 45: ‘Don’t you find all this rather a surprising debate, given that the Equality Act was passed in 2010?’

The inquiry heard from expert witness Colin Todd this week, who gave his views about the work of risk assessor Carl Stokes as well as answered questions about his own guidance. Peter Apps and Nathaniel Barker report

Click here to read the full story

Week 46: ‘I think I've been very, very clear that is completely wrong’

This week the inquiry heard further expert evidence about fire risk assessor Carl Stokes’ actions, as the section of its work covering the management and maintenance of the tower concluded. Peter Apps reports

Click here to read the full story

Six key failures in the way Grenfell Tower was managed before the fire

Peter Apps recaps some of what we have learned about the actions of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) in the years before the fire.

Module one and two closing statements

Week 47: ‘An unedifying spectacle’

After a week of closing statements from the core participants involved in modules one and two, Lucie Heath recaps the key arguments of each group

Click here to read the full story

Sign up for our weekly Grenfell Inquiry newsletter

Sign up for our weekly Grenfell Inquiry newsletter

Each week we send out a newsletter rounding up the key news from the Grenfell Inquiry, along with the headlines from the week

New to Inside Housing? Click here to register and receive the weekly newsletter straight to your inbox

Already have an account? Click here to manage your newsletters

Linked InTwitterFacebookeCard
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.