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The inquiry is set to continue as planned, starting on Monday. This second phase of the inquiry will focus on issues including the refurbishment of the building and how the tower block was wrapped in cladding that enabled the fire to spread that led to the tragic death of 72 people in 2017.
Benita Mehra, past president of the Women’s Engineering Society, has resigned with immediate effect due to her previous charity receiving funding from Arconic, the supplier of Grenfell’s cladding.
In her resignation, Benita Mehra expressed her empathy for the depth of feeling regarding her appointment to the panel.
Whilst the Cabinet Office has defended her appointment, they are yet to comment on whether they will aim to replace her. Sadiq Khan has claimed that the appointment should have never been made. In addition, Grenfell United, a group representing survivors and bereaved families, states that the Government has once again failed to carry out basic checks.
However, the Cabinet Office has said:
"There are robust processes in place to ensure the Grenfell Tower inquiry remains independent and that any potential conflicts of interest are properly considered and managed.
"As with any public appointment, due process has been followed in this case, and Benita Mehra's appointment was approved."
This resignation has compounded the feelings by Grenfell United and others that the inquiry is failing to serve the bereaved and survivors and needs to ‘’bring this process back to putting families at the centre’. It also poses the question of how robust and suitable the Governments processes are for bringing justice to the families of the deceased and getting to the bottom of this tragedy.
What is next for the second phase?
The second phase will take place at ‘a new hearing centre, closer to the community, replaces the previous unpopular conference room in the heart of London's legal district’. Beyond a location change, the source of evidence is set to change from the harrowing accounts of affected persons in phase one, in stage two the evidence will come from emails, technical specifications and planning documents
‘The second phase of the inquiry will examine how the cladding products were tested, and how the residents' complaints to the tower's management were dealt with.’ It is set to run until June 2021, and with more than 93,000 documents have so far been disclosed which will certainly give phase two a slower pace. What’s more, the lead architects of the refurbishment, Studio E, the building contractor Rydon, and the cladding subcontractor Harley Facades Ltd are due to give evidence on Monday.
The nation is waiting with bated breath for the outcome of this enquiry; although, it may be a while until we have a full picture of what happened in the years leading up to this tragedy.
07 December 2023