Sadiq Khan urges Theresa May to dispel public 'mistrust' over Grenfell inquiry
Sadiq Khan has warned Theresa May that she risks "fuelling mistrust" if she fails to include the local community at all stages of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The Mayor of London said those affected by the fire should be involved in drawing up the terms of reference for the inquiry in order to stem accusations that ministers were trying to “suppress the facts”.
Last week the Prime Minister confirmed a full public inquiry would be held in to the blaze, which ravaged the 24-storey building and is presumed to have claimed the lives of at least 79 people.
The disaster sparked protests in London over accusations that the authorities had not done enough to help those affected – something Mrs May herself later agreed with.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Khan called on the Government to convince the community that an inquiry, led by a senior judge, was preferable to an inquest.
“A view has taken hold in some quarters in the local community that a public inquiry is sub-optimal to an inquest, fuelling suspicion that this is being used to suppress the facts emerging,” he said.
“The inquiry must be a thorough and detailed process which standards of representation, investigation, disclosure, evidence and questioning that are no less than would be provided at the most rigorous of inquests.
“Relations with the local community can be further strengthened is by ensuring families, survivors and civil society groups have a role in drawing up the terms of reference for the public inquiry and are consulted on where Inquiry hearings are held. Any attempt to exclude them from the process risks further fuelling mistrust.”
'NO HIDING PLACE FOR WRONGDOING'
Mr Khan has also called for immediate action to protect evidence, including “powers of seizure”, in a further move to quash suspicions of a cover-up by the authorities.
“It is also important that immediate steps are taken to preserve evidence if there is a risk of it being destroyed by those holding it,” he said.
“The inquiry must be given full powers of summoning witnesses and evidence if we are to get to the truth. There must be no hiding place for wrongdoing.”
The Mayor has previously argued the inquiry should produce an interim report on the causes of the fire and a second stage looking at how to avoid such a tragedy in the future.
He also said the Government should cover the full legal fees of the families, survivors and local civil society groups to prevent any “inequality of arms” in quality of representation.
The letter follows an investigation by the BBC, which found that four ministers were warned about the risk of a fire in tower blocks like Grenfell.
According to the network, the All-Party Parliamentary Group urged the Government not to “wait for another tragedy” after the fatal fire in Lakanal House in south London in 2009, and called for stronger regulations on tower blocks.
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