Theresa May in U-turn on Grenfell inquiry panel after meeting families
Theresa May has agreed to widen the inquiry panel looking into the deadly Grenfell Tower fire - after previously ruling out such a move.
The climbdown - which will see two extra members appointed to the panel - comes after the Prime Minister met survivors and families of the victims of last June's fatal blaze, which claimed the lives of 71 residents of the Kensington tower block.
The group last night presented Mrs May with a painting to commemorate the tragedy, with Number 10 today revealing that the picture is to be hung in Downing Street.
Following the meeting, the Prime Minister wrote to the chair of the Grenfell Inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, informing him that two further panel members would be added for the second party of the investigation – just months after ruling it out.
In the letter, Mrs May acknowledged that she did “not consider it necessary to appoint additional panel members” in December 2017.
But she added: “I have decided to appoint an additional two panel members to support your chairmanship for Phase 2 of the Inquiry’s work."
She said the move was designed to “provide reassurance to victims and survivors of the fire” and to recognise “the scale and breadth of the issues to be considered”.
In a statement, Downing Street said the new panel members would be confirmed in a letter to Sir Martin at a future date.
Responding to the news, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon hailed the decision as “a testimony to the campaign by the bereaved families and the survivors - and to the overwhelming public support they attracted".
He added: “But after everything they have been through, the bereaved families and the survivors should never have had to wage this campaign…
“For the Grenfell Inquiry to deliver truth and justice, it must always have the full confidence of the bereaved families and survivors and it is essential that, going forward, all their other demands are properly met.”
Earlier, the Prime Minister’s spokesman confirmed that the commemorative painting presented to Mrs May by Grenfell survivors would be hung up at Number Ten.
He said: “She was given the painting yesterday. This will be coming to Downing Street and we will be considering where it best fits.
“The Grenfell Tower fire was an unimaginable tragedy that should never have happened. The work on the inquiry is ongoing."
MPs will on Monday get the chance to debate the Govenrment's response to Grenfell in a Westminster Hall debate, triggered after more than 150,000 signed a public petition calling for a more representative inquiry panel.