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WATCH: Theresa May's chief of staff ignores questions over delayed fire safety report

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Theresa May's new chief of staff refused to answer questions today about a delayed review into fire safety while he was housing minister as the political storm over the Grenfell Tower blaze grows.

Gavin Barwell was repeatedly asked why he had not acted on calls for a review of building regulations in the wake of another devastating high-rise fire.

The delayed review has hit the spotlight after at least 17 people were killed when Grenfell Tower went up in flames on Wednesday morning, with the death toll expected to rise.

Mr Barwell was last week handed the powerful role of Downing Street chief of staff, just days after losing his Croydon Central seat at the election.

Six people died and more than 20 were hurt after a fire at Lakanal House, a block of flats in Camberwell, south London, in 2009.

Mr Barwell said last year that the Government was reviewing part B of the Building Regulations 2010 in the wake of the blaze.

But asked whether accusations he “sat on” the review were true, he told Sky News: “I can’t comment, I’m afraid.”

It has meanwhile emerged that ministers said retro-fitting sprinklers to old tower blocks was not the “responsibility” of the Government.

Ministers also refused a previous recommendation for smoke alarm infrastructure in tall buildings to be made fire resistant.


Theresa May yesterday announced a full public inquiry into the latest London tower block disaster - with ministers promising swift action once the cause of the blaze is identified.

Today Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said residents in other at-risk tower blocks could be re-housed so the hazardous buildings can be knocked down if the investigation into the Grenfell blaze recommends it.

He insisted: “There can be no shortcuts to this. Whatever they tell us is required to make those people safe, whether it’s changes to their buildings whether it’s rehousing, whatever it is, that is what will have to be done.”

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