Grenfell Tower Fire Update – Potential fraud charges and a new search for a panel member
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Potential Fraud Charges
Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the Chairman of the inquiry, has said that those involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, that tragically claimed 72 lives, could face fraud charges.
The chairman told the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, that during the hearings that are set to take place after the inquiry starts again on 24th February, that ‘witnesses are “very likely” to be asked to discuss issues involving potential fraud offences.’
“Any questions put to employees of the manufacturers or sellers of the cladding materials about how they came to market potentially dangerous products are likely to lead to their invoking the privilege against self-incrimination,” Sir Martin Moore-Bick said.
Thus far, the inquiry had already heard that witnesses could face criminal prosecution. The lawyers for the ‘architects, the main contractor, facade contractor and landlord invoked their right to immunity from potential criminal prosecutions whilst giving evidence. This led to the inquiry being postponed on 30th January.
Nonetheless, Sir Moore-Bick told Geoffrey Cox he does not believe that the undertaking would impede any criminal prosecutions due to “the vast volume of documentary evidence and witness statements already available to the police, any admissions or inconsistent statements, although a potential bonus, are unlikely to provide the foundation for a decision to prosecute,”
Sir Moore-Bick urged Cox to decide as a “matter of urgency” because the evidence that the inquiry team has already found “suggests that significant risks to public health and safety will continue to be created until the full extent of what happened at Grenfell Tower is brought to light”.
Search for a New Panel Member
The Prime Minister ,Boris Johnson, has put his political weight behind a search for a third panel member to replace Benita Mehra – who resigned due to a possible conflict of interest.
‘The inquiry has published a letter from the prime minister to panel chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick last week approving the addition. Johnson said he shared the commitment made by his predecessor Theresa May to make sure the panel had the “breadth of skills and diversity of expertise” needed to consider the matters in phase two. The Cabinet Office will now draw up a shortlist of potential candidates “as a matter of urgency”, he added.’
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