72 dead, no diverse Inquiry panel. How come?

The sarcophagus of Grenfell Tower stands as a monument to what the North Kensington community has endured over the past 9 months. The trauma, pain, exhaustion and anger has led to the blooming of a spirit of resistance, care, support and self-organisation. The community remembers with dignity, on the 14th of every month, in the Silent Walks,72 men, women and children, whose lives were so brutally taken, while families left languishing in hotel rooms wonder in despair, if this is what justice looks like.

It has been 3 months since the last procedural hearing of the Public Inquiry. Three months in which survivors and displaced families have struggled through a quagmire of institutional indifference from the local authority. At the opening of the Inquiry, Leslie Thomas QC asked whether the panel could understand the experiences of the residents from diverse backgrounds. He stated,

“that affects confidence. Confidence or a lack of it affects participation. And a lack of participation from the very people who matter will affect justice”

The Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign demanded a diverse panel in June 2017. Bereaved families took a petition to Downing Street in December asking for the same. It was in the gift of Prime Minister to grant this; she refused. It appeared particularly heartless especially as it was announced over the seasonal break; A PARTICULARY VULNERALBE time for many who were facing their first festive season without their loved ones and where they had little opportunity to challenge her decision.

Theresa May quoted, “I am also very conscious of the need for the inquiry to complete its initial report as quickly as reasonably possible. I therefore consider that additional panel members should not be appointed at this stage,”

Dr. Richard Stone OBE an independent Inquiry Panel member of the Stephen Lawrence Campaign said this about the Grenfell Inquiry Panel,

“They will have to be a diverse group, which ensures that the experiences of the whole range of people affected by the fire are in the ear of the judge from the earliest moment. From my previous experience, I would argue that civil servants or government officials should not be involved in the choice of any ‘independent’ person within the Inquiry team. I have found in some senior officials an almost irresistible desire to maintain control even of officially ‘independent’ Inquiries. The team must be absolutely independent, from the outset.

Once again, the survivors and bereaved families have had to turn to the community and ordinary people up and down the country for support. Following Justice4Grenfell’s ‘3 Billboards’ Campaign and Grime Artist Stormzy’s timely reminder to the Prime minister at the Brits not to forget the horror of what happened to Grenfell; the petition got over the 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in parliament. This has raised serious questions about the commitment of this Inquiry to put those most impacted at the heart of the Inquiry. The date for the parliamentary debate is set for 14th May 2018 – this is the very date of the 11-month anniversary of the Grenfell Fire; the community holds a Silent Walk on the 14th of each month and it is also the first day of Ramadan!!!

Justice4Grenfell and the community of Grenfell’s expectations of this second procedural hearing are near zero and until the demand for a diverse, equal decision-making panel has been granted, we enter the doors of Holborn Bars with the question still firmly in our minds:

“72 dead, no diverse Inquiry Panel, how come?

3 Billboards Outside Grenfell Tower, London

8 months on from the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower, the issue is being ignored.

71 people died in the Grenfell Tower.

And still no arrests.

And still 297 flammable towers.

And still hundreds of survivors are homeless.

And still they are not represented on the inquiry.

And still there is no justice.

These 3 billboards are here to keep this tragedy in the national conscience, to make our voices heard.

And our voices call for change to a system that kills.

And our voices demand justice for Grenfell.

You can add your voice; retweet, share, talk.

J4G Press Release – 1st February 2018

**For Immediate Release**

The Justice4Grenfell Campaign is outraged that survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire who have core participation status in the upcoming Public Inquiry could face the possibility of deportation .

Immediately after the disaster Theresa May said no one should feel scared about coming forward. Then immigration minister Brandon Lewis announced a pitiful one-year amnesty for undocumented migrants living in the tower. Now he has said survivors can apply for permanent residence, but only after a five-year period of regular observation by the state. This constant shifting of the immigration policy has meant that people will not come forward with crucial information for the Public Inquiry and the criminal investigation. Survivors suffering from various kinds of trauma are not accessing trauma and bereavement services.

J4G are also concerned that the Home Office policy for families bereaved by the fire simply does not go far enough. Relatives who were granted visas in the aftermath of the fire, now face the possibility of their visas expiring. Yet in some cases, it has taken over four months for remains to be released and funerals to take place. This could mean that families will have to leave the UK before any substantive hearings at Inquests or the Public Inquiry, and before any completion of the police investigation and criminal proceedings.

Labour MP’s Emma Dent Coad and Dianne Abbott’s letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, highlights concerns that the Justice4Grenfell campaign raised in October 2017 when we pointed out that “This piecemeal and underhand policy does not encourage undocumented survivors to confidently come forward, and if survivors do not come forward then justice cannot be served.”

We therefore repeat our call for a full and comprehensive amnesty to allow survivors to take part in the inquiry or for their family members to support them.


J4G Press Release – 29th January 2018

The Justice4Grenfell Campaign are hosting a Public Meeting on the 1st February 2018, 7pm at Maxilla Social Club, raising the question: ‘How do we get Justice For Grenfell?’

The meeting provides a platform for the community to discuss what justice looks like, and how it can be achieved. This is particularly pertinent as nearly 8 months after the fire, the following issues are still outstanding:

  • There have been no arrests
  • Hundreds of families are still without permanent accommodation
  • Thousands, nationwide, are still living in unsafe buildings and;
  • Despite a petition and legal advice, the Public Inquiry panel still remains unrepresentative of our diverse community.

Speakers will include:

  • Emma Dent Coad – Local Labour MP
  • Clarrie Mendy – Bereaved Family Member & Humanity4Grenfell Founder
  • Matt Wrack – General Secretary of the Fire Brigade’s Union
  • Joe Delaney – Resident & Grenfell Action Group Member
  • Eileen Short – Defend Council Housing
  • Kevin Courtenay – General Secretary of National Union of Teachers (NEU)
  • Brian Richardson – Stand Up To Racism

The Grenfell Tower fire has highlighted failures in protecting the safety of social housing tenants, adequate public services, lack of equality and human rights with little or no accountability.

The Justice4Grenfell campaign says “It’s vital that those in authority begin to act upon community demands immediately, and lessons are learned, so that no community ever has to face what this community has endured in the last 8 months – only through the responsible authorities implementing action and change, will Justice be done and be seen to be done, by those that matter.”


J4G’s Response to the ‘Chairman’s Response to Submissions made on 11th-12 December 2017’

The Grenfell Inquiry Chairman has today written to all core participants responding to the issues that were raised at the Procedural Hearing on 11 and 12 December.

The main outstanding issue is that Sir Martin declined to recommend to PM Theresa May that panel members with equitable decision-making powers should be appointed alongside him.

He stated,

‘I am and must remain completely independent of the government and in my view it would be wrong for me to take the initiative by advising the Prime Minister either to appoint additional members to the panel or not to do so. That must be a matter for her own judgment, free of any unsolicited advice from me. If proposals were made to expand the panel, I should, of course, consider them carefully and with an open mind, but unless and until that occurs, I must refrain from comment.’

J4G continues to call on the Prime Minister to urgently make these appointments as a step to building community trust and confidence in the Inquiry.

Other Key points in the response include:-

  • Lawyers representing Grenfell families ‘may’ be allowed to question witnesses directly, the chairman of the public inquiry into the fire.
  • Ministers, town hall chiefs and company bosses will be told to identify their Grenfell Tower responsibilities amid worries that the inquiry could be hampered by a “culture of denial”.
  • An expert in tenant management will draw up a report and give evidence amid claims that “little heed was paid” by the authorities to warnings by Grenfell residents about the fire risk.
  • Exploring assistance such as travel, childcare and refreshment costs for victims’ families and survivors to attend hearings in central London. No local venue in Kensington has been secured for future hearings. This was requested at the procedural hearings.
  • Documents will be disclosed in “sensible tranches” but not all the raw information submitted will be made available to core participants, with some papers redacted. The inquiry may receive 270,000 documents.
  • Local residents will be ‘consulted’ on setting up a “consultative panel” to promote a “sense of engagement” and build confidence in the inquiry.


If you’d like to read the Chairman’s full response, please click here: The Chairman’s Response to Submissions made on 11 – 12 December 2017


J4G Press Release – 12th Dec 2017

Definitions of Representation and ‘Exploitation’

Justice4Grenfell attended two days of procedural hearings opening the Grenfell Tower Inquiry this week.  We welcomed the consensus that bereaved families and survivors’ voices should be placed at the centre, not on the margins, of the inquiry. It is vital that public confidence in the Inquiry’s work is both raised and maintained in order for justice to be served.

This week, survivors and the bereaved have also called for a representative panel with decision-making powers to sit in parity alongside the judge. It is clear that many bereaved families and survivors do not feel as though they have a central role in the Inquiry process. While Sir Martin More-Bick seems to understand the reasons for the request – namely, diversity of experience, background and ethnicity – it is clear that the only way this can happen is if the Prime Minister exercises her powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 to appoint a panel.

There was talk of a diverse ‘community consultative panel’ to act as a ‘critical friend’ to the Inquiry. Some welcomed this idea, however as Michael Mansfield QC effectively pointed out, ‘the key point that you are missing is that a panel of this nature will not have any decision-making power’.  Additional diverse panel members with decision-making powers on parity with the current Inquiry Chair would demonstrate that the experience of the survivors and bereaved families and relatives was understood and considered. This is not a new concept; there are previous examples of public inquiries doing this –  for example, the McPherson/Lawrence Inquiry panel.

All public bodies should endeavour to be representative of the communities they serve and a public Inquiry is not exempt from this. The Inquiry must be more representative and reflect the diversity of people from Grenfell Tower and North Kensington communities. Lack of representation in a public body at this level raises questions about the Inquiry’s approach to issues of race, class, age, disability etc.  Representation is important. It is about ensuring that those most affected can trust that the process will be fair and truthful. Matters of equality and diversity are central to the work of the Inquiry, and to restoring confidence of all who seek justice.

The current Chair was selected and appointed by the Prime Minister. It was confirmed at the hearing that it is solely in the Prime Minister’s gift to decide if she wants to add additional diverse decision makers to the panel. We will await her decision.

In the meantime, Justice4Grenfell is disappointed to read coverage in some news outlets that clearly seeks to divide the community around Grenfell Tower. We are a community campaign focused on seeking justice. Some media have chosen to focus on creating divisions in our community at a time when we are still grieving and traumatised by what happened at Grenfell on June 14th.  Certain media came into our community, shortly after the fire, asking vulnerable volunteers and survivors leading questions to ‘divide and rule’ us; then quoting them in their outlet some three months later.  This is an overt example of ‘exploitation’.  We’ve moved on as a community and we will not be silenced or divided.

Six months after the fire, there are urgent issues to be addressed. One obvious question is why 80% of former residents are still in emergency or temporary accommodation? J4G is campaigning so that questions like these are raised; so that institutional behaviours in need of change are confronted, and that those ultimately responsible for the tragic events at Grenfell Tower are held to account.

We ask everyone who is committed to the principles of justice and equality for the bereaved and survivors of the Grenfell Tragedy to come and show respect and solidarity for those who needlessly perished. Join us on the Silent March on Thursday 14th December at 6.30pm; meeting point Notting Hill Methodist Church, Lancaster Road, London W11 4AH.


**CORRECTION:  In a previous version of this Press Release, J4G referenced that there were 20% of residents still living in emergency or temporary accommodation. In fact, the amount is significantly greater at 80%. The 60% difference here is important. 

We apologise for any confusion that this has caused.**


J4G Press Release – Response to annoucement of EHRC Independent Inquiry

The Justice 4 Grenfell campaign welcomes the intervention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to run an Independent Inquiry into the Grenfell Fire.

J4G has consistently raised concerns that the State and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) have failed in their duties to protect life and provide safe housing.

In our press release on 15th August, J4G made the following comments:

“It is disappointing that the question of social housing especially social cleansing/gentrification will not be addressed in the Inquiry as this remains a critical issue not just for the community of North Kensington but across the country and goes to the heart of a changing ideological approach to social housing and the pursuit of profit rather than provision of safe, affordable, appropriate and adequate housing”

The campaign’s application for Core Participation status has also like EHRC been refused along side many other communities, human rights and equality focused organisations. J4G’s application for core participation highlighted the different ways that the Inquiry needs to address State negligence of the communities in and around Grenfell. Issues of equality and human rights are paramount to the need for justice.

Given the appalling loss of life and suffering caused by the Grenfell Tower fire and the nationwide concern over the safety of tower blocks, J4G included in it’s core participation application that the following issues be included:

·         The competence, ability and willingness of public authorities to oversee, regulate and ensure safe housing nationally;

·         The competence, ability and willingness of public authorities to respond to large scale emergencies;

·         How communities (including residents) are listened to, specifically whether there is an effective response when communities/residents raise concerns to public authorities, local authorities, statutory agencies and bodies about matters that impact upon them.

Clarrie Mendy, a bereaved family member, founder of Relative Justice for Grenfell & co-founder of Humanity 4 Grenfell added,

‘To ignore human rights and additionally fundamentally refuse to listen to community voices who have lived/experienced in any Inquiry about Grenfell, is not only the height of disrespect to those who died but also an overt indication that the state and RBKC don’t care.’

She is also appealing to the government to adopt the charter for families bereaved through public tragedy as recommended by Bishop James Jones in his recent report “The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power”.

J4G suggests that ‘Institutional Indifference’, a term coined by survivor Joe Delaney, to define the state and local authority response to the Grenfell Tower atrocity has been evident from 14th June – Or, put simply the term ‘Institutional Indifference’ implies that ‘they don’t want to find out what really happened, they don’t have to and more to the point, they don’t care!’

J4G will want to participate in the EHRC’s independent Inquiry but seek to be constructively critical and always remain independent and focused upon representing the collective concerns of the community.


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J4G Protest at the RBKC Town Hall at 17:30pm on 6th Dec 2017


The Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign has called a protest today, 6th Dec 2017 at 17.30, to demand permanent homes for the Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk residents.

The protest is being held at Kensington Town Hall tonight at 6pm. It is taking place to bring to the attention of Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) and the UK, how survivors of the Grenfell Fire Tragedy are being treated. Many were made involuntarily homeless by the fire and RBKC have a duty of care to them – this should be one that offers a premium service not one that meets a minimal standard.

Only 20% of survivors have be permanently rehoused.

Six months on, over 40 children under the age of 18 years are still living in temporary accommodation.

RBKC has a housing policy that is dense and subversive and not written for the audience it is intended to serve. This is creating more anxiety, stress and trauma. There should be a policy in place that is accessible and conducive to the needs of survivors, implemented with humanity and understanding – this is not currently the case.

Residents are expected to work through the complex policy (that even RBKC admits is a ‘monster of a policy’ to implement) and bid for homes against each other. We demand that RBKC puts competent officers in place now, who can lead on the Grenfell Rehousing policy; more importantly officers who can implement the policy with humanity, understanding the needs of former residents and their families.

The current RBKC leadership have shown, month after month, that they are not fit for office or purpose. A new ‘revised’ commitment by the government and RBKC to rehouse the survivors within 12 months is not acceptable and is akin to cruel and unusual treatment.

Providing safe and permanent housing is a paramount issue here – RBKC continues to fail on its promises, deadlines and effectively engaging with the community of North Kensington -so business as usual for them and on-going contempt for the local community. They fail the Litmus test over and over again – this cannot be tolerated!

In the words of a former resident who summed up RBKC’s continued treatment and poor attitude to our community, this is a perfect example of “Institutional Indifference” by a public service.