June 29, 2017

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Grenfell update: Judge appointed for inquiry

A Retired Court of Appeal judge has been announced to lead the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, according to reports.

According to the BBC, the government is likely to confirm the appointment of Sir Martin Moore-Bick, described as “highly respected”, later today.

Born in Wales and educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge, the 70-year-old’s career has spanned nearly five decades after being called to the Bar in 1969. As a lawyer, he specialised in commercial law which involved dealing with disputes relating to maritime and land transport of goods.

Sir Martin went on to spend more than 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2016. A legal source who has worked with him said he was “highly respected” in the profession and “intellectually superb”.

Criticism

However, leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC, who has met survivors of the fire, has said it was “unbelievable that lessons are not learned” from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is now on its fourth chairman.

He said that inquiry “did not consult with the families and the survivors” and “the same thing seems to have happened all over again”. Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted residents will be given a say over the direction of the investigation.

And the appointment has been described by some as ‘controversial’, based on a case overseen by Sir Martin in November 2014 in which he ruled a London tenant could be rehoused 50 miles away.

His decision that Westminster City Council could rehouse single mother-of-five Titina Nzolameso in Bletchley near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was overturned by the Supreme Court in April 2015.

Stop testing

Police have said 80 people are now presumed dead after the Grenfell Tower disaster on 14 June.

They have also warned the final death toll will not be known until at least the end of the year.

The National Housing Federation has called on the Government to stop its testing of cladding and instead focus on making people safe.

Chief executive David Orr said: “These tests were the right thing to do, but the results are now conclusive: ACM cladding simply does not pass these tests and is deemed unsafe.

“Across the country, valuable resources – from specialist equipment to expert time – are being poured into a testing process of which the results are already known.

“We are calling on the Government to halt the testing on ACM cladding and shift its focus to making people safe.”

Mr Orr spoke of the testing process revealing a “systematic failure” around the development, manufacture and regulation of cladding.

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Frank Hyland
Frank Hyland
5 years ago

The Fire, Health & Safety, Insurance industry have known about cladding for years, You will know if you have studied the videos of the Dubai high rise fires that fire, will given the right conditions, spread on the outside of a building. Its just a pity that it takes fatalities for people to take action!

Neil Beacock
Neil Beacock
5 years ago

As a H&S officer without the qualifications and expertise of some of the people involved in the process of picking out this cladding in the first case, I just find it hard to believe test were not carried out prior to installation. Surely at the very least people who set up the deals and said the cladding would be used should be held accountable.

Barrie Jones
Barrie Jones
5 years ago

Rather than moving residents from the tower blocks it would be more practical, quicker, cheaper and probably more acceptable to residents to install or improve the fire/emergency alarms and have a 24 hour warden in each tower until the cladding issue is resolved. Good Fire alarms should stay and the concept or wait until the emergency services arrive should be abandoned everywhere and an orderly evacuation be encouraged. Internal Fire escape routes should be scrapped and separate escape columns accessed be open bridges considered, as have been used in various buildings in the past. I feel for anyone involved in… Read more »

Colin Allen
Colin Allen
5 years ago

The Great and the Good will be discovering steam next. The Grenfell tragedy is a metaphor for Britain today – when it comes to safety of the individual, we’re a nation of cheapskates. One obvious advantage of the EC was its ability to ensure that safety regulation was put in place – unfortunately the EC is incapable of ensuring that we actually do the right thing and make certain that regulations are applied. What took place in west London can be magnified across the whole of UK design and construction. Contracts are invariably won on price. That ensures that every… Read more »

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