London, 15th February 2019
20 months on from the Grenfell Tower fire that claimed 72 lives, 72 people, comprised of activists, bereaved families, members of the community and high profile supporters of the cause, united at the start of London Fashion Week, to represent those who lost their lives in the disaster.
Wearing a protest t-shirt, the 72 ‘models’, including musician Emeli Sande, models Adwoa Aboah and Clara Paget, activists Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein and DJ Becky Tong, lined up on the catwalk of LFW at 180 The Strand calling for justice as nearly 2 years on from the atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fire, nobody has been held accountable.
The ‘No Death in Vain’ t-shirt was designed by Grenfell Speaks and two young community members at SpiltSquare Design: “We wanted to create a design that remembered and honoured the people who died at Grenfell Tower, and to serve as a reminder of why we continue to campaign as a community.”
There are still hundreds of buildings with flammable cladding, not all families have been adequately rehoused, developers and local authorities are “consistently ignoring” the London Fire Brigade’s advice that sprinklers are crucial in their buildings. The second half of the Inquiry and criminal investigation has been delayed, likely until 2020. In short, there has been no justice; lessons have not been learned and there has been little to no change to fire and building regulations.
“London Fashion week is a perennial event in the international calendar and highlights the world talent, creativity and inspiration in our diverse city.
The fire at Grenfell Tower is the unfashionable side of London where 72 people needlessly lost their lives. Their deaths will not be in vain. We are honoured to be part of LFW that will assist our campaign in keeping a global focus on what happened at Grenfell and to support the bereaved families in their continued fight for truth and justice.
The accountable authorities have been inadequate and tardy in their response and 20 months on; no significant changes or improvements have been made and no one to date has been held responsible. These factors and issues are fundamental to ensuring that nothing like this is ever allowed to happen again.” Yvette Williams J4G campaign coordinator.
In solidarity and to demand justice for those who lost their lives, Justice4Grenfell is encouraging the public to show support for the movement by resharing these images during London Fashion Week on social media with the #Justice4Grenfell @officialJ4G
Photo credit: Jeff Moore
Social: @OfficialJ4G #Justice4Grenfell
For further information, or to arrange an interview with a Justice4Grenfell spokesperson, please contact Sabrina Coogan on [email protected] or 07850753929; or Matt Crowhurst on [email protected] or 07971 301874.
On Thursday 16th November 2018, Robert Black, the ex-CEO of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation gave his evidence at the Public Inquiry.
The only thing he seemed to remember was his career path and nothing much about what happened on the night of the fire.
Here are some questions that Justice4Grenfell would like to put to him:
– Do you remember why you went to Grenfell in the first place if your role was to be “passive”?
– Do you remember signing the planning application for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower?
– Do you remember why you continued to accept a CEO salary for the last 6 months of 2017 even though you had stepped down from your role? If that was to “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”, why is your evidence so unsubstantial?
– Do you remember residents calling for an independent adjudicator to investigate the fire risk at Grenfell Tower in 2016? Do you remember your role as a CEO in the organisation that rejected that idea?
– Do you remember doing anything useful at all on the 14th June 2017? From your evidence, it seems that “standing around” for 6 hours was all that you did?
– Do you remember that a minimum of 72 children, women and men died as a result of the fire?
Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton gave evidence to the Public Inquiry this week. She was asked by Inquiry Counsel, Richard Millet QC, if there were ‘institutional assumptions’ made by the fire service on how to react to the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Here are some questions J4G would like to ask the government about some ‘institutional assumptions’ that they may hold:
Please never make the institutional assumption that the Grenfell survivors, bereaved families and wider community will not continue to fight for justice.
“I didn’t know I was poor until I saw the media coverage of the fire.”
Tasha, my youthful Justice4Grenfell campaign colleague, felt that way because she had lived in social housing all her life.
Those who died in Grenfell Tower were clearly victims of a system that failed to prioritise the safety of poorer citizens, but in highlighting this, it seems the media quickly defined the residents as all being marginalised and poor. As Grenfell Tower remained ablaze, the media told the world that the residents who lived there had a history of illegal subletting, it was overrun with illegal immigrants, they were all poor, unemployed, benefit claimants and that most were unable to speak English. The risk here is that this one-dimensional portrayal has evoked images of tenants living in social housing having hopeless lives. This image perplexed our community, who knew that 14 of the properties in the tower were privately owned by leaseholders; there were civil engineers, teachers, architects, business owners, private renters, artists, nursery workers, hospital porters, the list goes on. In reality, the former residents of Grenfell were a diverse community whose lives and homes were full of purpose, meaning, work and pride, and in many ways just as rich as those who inhabit the townhouses of Kensington and Chelsea…
Written By Yvette Williams MBE
On Wednesday afternoon, we met with the Rt. Hon. Nick Hurd MP, The Grenfell Minister.
We had 4 key points that we raised at the meeting:
1. Justice4Grenfell is supporting Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith, who has tabled a private members Bill on Freedom of Information Act (Extension). The Bill highlights how dependent we have become on contractors for public services, yet the current FOI Act suffers from a major loophole; information which the contractors themselves hold about their services may not be covered. If the contract doesn’t give the authority the right to obtain that information from the contractor, the public has no right to it from the authority. The transfer of a function from the authority’s staff to the contractors, may signal the denial of the public’s right to know under FOI.
When the Grenfell Action Group made FOI requests to the former Kensington and Chelsea TMO, they were denied this. They will now be given that information by the Grenfell Inquiry and Police Investigation. It may be that if the Grenfell Action Group had accessed and scrutinised crucial information prior to June 14th 2017, the fire at Grenfell Tower would not have happened.
Justice4Grenfell supports this bill, and we have asked the Rt Hon. Nick Hurd MP to support it when it gets a debate date in Parliament.
2. We have also asked the Minister to look at applying the same principle to the Public-Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.
The Act should be amended so that Public Authorities outsourcing bounds Contractors to the Duty. The broad purpose of the equality duty is to integrate consideration of equality and good relations into the day-to-day business of public authorities. If you do not consider how a function can affect different groups in different ways, it is unlikely to have the intended effect. This can contribute to greater inequality and poor outcomes.
Compliance with the general equality duty is a legal obligation, but it also makes good business sense. An organisation that is able to provide services to meet the diverse needs of its users, should find that it carries out its core business more efficiently. By outsourcing public services to contractors has allowed a caveat for them to renege on their statutory duties.
3. Justice4Grenfell attended the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday 24th July. It is clear that community trust and confidence in the work of the local authority is not improving and the mere change of venue for the GRSC is not working.
The GRSC intends to co-opt four community members to the committee. We have asked the minister to support our request that one of the co-opted members is also appointed as a co-chair to alongside current Chair Cllr Robert Thompson. There needs to be action to build trust and confidence, not just words and venue changes. Not only will the appointment of a community co-chair begin to build public trust, but it will also ensure that there is somebody chairing who really understands the needs and temperament of the community.
4. Additionally, a huge contribution to building trust and confidence would be a ‘tier of scrutinisers’ at RBKC who the community will have immediate trust in.
Justice4Grenfell discussed with the Minister that it would be prudent for RBKC to have non-executive Directors with effective community knowledge and understanding plus equal decision-making powers to the CEO. This would instantly increase openness and transparency and be a great step towards building community trust and confidence.
We hope that Minister has listened and will support these recommendations.
This week at the Inquiry, we heard further evidence from fire fighters who attended Grenfell Tower on the 14th June 2017 and also evidence from the control room staff.
There were many issues that came up this week, including problems with the water pressure that has been described by some only as powerful as “a garden hose”.
Here are some questions that we believe the Inquiry should have asked this week:
The Inquiry is proving to have the most multicultural participants in an Inquiry that Britain has ever seen.
Whilst the corporate sector, the Local Authority and the Lawyers will likely be less diverse, we know that the vast amount of Core Participants will be from all over the world, have different faiths and will speak multiple languages.
This week at the Inquiry, Crew Manager Jamal Stern took the stand. Before he began giving evidence, Richard Millett QC offered his apologies to Firefighter Stern as he was about to be presented a Quran which was missing it’s cover. Might I add that no other witness has been presented a underprepared Holy Book.
Firefighter Stern decided to make his affirmation anyway.
After 13 months of the phrases ‘Institutional’ and ‘Cultural Indifference’, how was the Inquiry underprepared for it’s first Muslim witness? When we return from the summer break, will the Inquiry have remembered that they need to obtain a Quran with a cover, or will this be forgotten too? Will the Ethiopian Orthodox witnesses who will be due to take the stand later this year be presented with the correct Holy book?
It may seem like a small oversight, but it’s incredibly reflective of how those of other religions are treated on a daily basis within this Country – as well as being reflective of the way that certain witnesses who are not from the UK have been treated since the 14th June 2017.
This can be seen with the Home Office’s decisions to not extend Visas to immediate relatives of those that died at Grenfell Tower, and not having Visas ready for burials and the commemorative hearings, which some family members had to miss.
I hope that with the additional ‘diverse’ panel members chosen to join Phase Two, this habit will be broken. But as we know, if you have little or no experience in dealing with BAME individuals and communities, these oversights will only continue to happen.
By Tasha Brade (J4G Campaigner)