News

Petition: Create a Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy

A petition has been created by Clarrie Mendy. Please read details the below:

The Bishop’s review of Hillsborough families’ experiences recommends the creation of a Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy. The Government must implement this recommendation. This petition was started by bereaved relatives of family members who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Charter will include commitments by public bodies to change in relation to transparency and acting in the public interest. By adopting this, the Government will show that it has learned the lessons of the Hillsborough disaster and ensure that the perspective of bereaved families is never lost. We’re concerned that the Grenfell public inquiry isn’t taking into account the views of bereaved families, survivors, and local community affected. They can be spared the indignities, pain and suffering Bishop James Jones describes in his report as “The Patronising disposition of unaccountable power”.

To sign the petition, click here: Create a Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy

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.**

#####

#ACandle4Grenfell

As some people are unable to attend the Silent March on Thursday 14th December, to show solidarity, support and unity, we ask that you join us in marking ‘6 Months’ by following these instructions:

  1. Please light a candle on the 14th December 2017.
  2. On a piece of paper, write ‘#ACandle4Grenfell’ and any other message or words you may want to share.
  3. Then take a photo of your message and post it on social media with the hashtags #ACandle4Grenfell & #SilentWalk
  4. Don’t forget to share your photo with Grenfell United (@grenfellunited) & Still I Rise GT (@Still_I_Rise_GT) on Twitter

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.

 

# # #

 

 

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

*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

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.

PROTEST – 6th December 2017 – House Grenfell Residents NOW!

Justice4Grenfell are calling a demonstration at the Council’s last meeting of the year.

Please join us on the 6th December 2017 at RBKC Town Hall, Hornton St, London W8 7NX at 17:30pm.

It has been almost six months since the atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fire and to date there are over 100 families who are still living in hotels. Many families are sharing one bed between them, whilst children are expected to complete homework or learn to crawl on the same beds they sleep on. Theresa May said the residents would be rehoused in 3 weeks!

In a borough where there are 1652 empty homes, it is a disgrace that the council has not been able to devise a strategy that has enabled the residents of Grenfell Tower to be rehoused more quickly. This has compounded the trauma that the survivors of the fire have been through.

J4G believes that this is a continuation of the council’s disdainful attitude to its social housing residents and a perpetuation of the discriminatory housing policies which have left thousands in temporary accommodation outside of the borough.

Joe D said, “The council keep saying they can’t rehouse us quickly because there’s a shortage of social housing. Well, whose fault is that”

We will not wait in silence for the council to implement their flawed rehousing policy. Six months in hotels is too long!

We demand justice for Grenfell.

RBKC, act now and house the residents in safe and decent homes.

You can find the event page on Facebook by clicking here – Protest: House Grenfell Residents Now!!

“Grenfell – The Fight For Justice” by Brian Richardson

I vividly remember the June 14th 2017. I was working from home and the sun was flooding into my 6th floor flat on a beautiful, bright sunny day. In the adjoining block a mixed group of elders were enjoying a summer party.  I was impressed that the entertainer was able to switch effortlessly from Frank Sinatra to Bob Marley songs and judging by the smells wafting up, jerk chicken was being served up. These were the sights, sounds and smells of multicultural London at its best.

Just 8 miles away however a nightmare was unfolding. Grenfell Tower was still aflame. That morning I watched my friend Moyra Samuels explaining on BBC News how she watched the fire  spreading from her flat nearby on Bramley Road.  Over the course of 60 hours the homes of hundreds of people was transformed into a blackened tomb. The deaths of dozens of people was a consequence of the contempt that the rich and powerful leaders of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have for the real multicultural London that Grenfell encapsulated.

In the minutes, hours, days and months since the first flame took hold we have seen the best of humanity. The way in which young black and Muslim men – so often maligned, marginalised and criminalised – struggled alongside firefighters to rescue and comfort residents was an example of the best. The way in which neighbours and friends rallied round, offering food, shelter, clothing and counselling is another. The impromptu memorial space and meeting spot by the Maxilla is a place of comfort and solidarity. The monthly Silent Marches are heartwarming, whilst the love and respect that was on display over Carnival weekend was inspirational.

But Grenfell also exposed the worst of humanity. Even before the tragedy, the contempt with which the council ignored those who demanded refurbishments was a disgrace.  The contempt with which they locked the town hall doors on those demanding answers in the days after was sheer cowardice and the subsequent sluggishness with which they have addressed people’s housing needs is an outrage. Meanwhile those sections of the media who are more interested in discrediting the fight for justice with stories about opportunists and bandwagon jumpers have brought shame upon their profession.

At the opening of the public inquiry I was, frankly disgusted by the arrogant expectation that those who had lost loved ones should rise to their feet in deference when Sir Martin Moore-Bick entered the room. He then strode out of the room immediately after delivering his opening address without allowing a single question to be asked.

That inquiry is only happening because the bereaved, local residents and their supporters have made it crystal clear that they want answers. I will never forget the angry and anguished calls for justice at the first community meeting I attended on the Saturday after the fire. Labour MP David Lammy whose family friend, 24 year old artist Khadija Saye, died in the fire was among those demanding corporate manslaughter charges.

What justice can this inquiry deliver? Families have been broken and lives lost forever.  There is an genuine fear among many that Moore-Bick’s deliberations will simply be a whitewash which will exonerate the guilty. This is an understandable concern and one which has been exacerbated by his refusal to appoint local residents or Black and Minority Ethnic people to the inquiry’s expert advisory panel. Nor has he granted core participant status to well rooted local activists and campaigns such as J4G.

A whitewash is by no means a foregone conclusion however.  Moreover we owe it to those who have died and to everyone who lives in tower blocks and social housing to fight for an outcome that exposes the truth, first and foremost about Grenfell, but also about the social cleansing that is such a repugnant feature of this divided country.

Moreover, we have allies who know how to fight for a modicum of justice. 2017 is also notable for the announcement that three former senior South Yorkshire police officers, that force’s then lawyer and the then secretary and safety officer of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club are now facing trial over the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi final. Why, because of the determination of the families and friends of the dead who formed the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and fought through thick and thin for 28 years.

The other great justice campaign of our times was the one waged by the family of Stephen Lawrence. Not only did it reveal the insensitive and incompetent police investigation into the black teenager’s murder in 1993, it also exposed the institutional racism that infects wider British society.

The families remained at the heart of these campaigns, but they sought and received the support of the wider community. Sympathetic investigative journalists helped keep their stories in the spotlight and they engaged lawyers who were fearless and adopted a community based approach to the legal proceedings.

The Grenfell justice campaign has already achieved a huge amount. The inquiry was announced within months, no doubt due to the public outcry.  The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, key trade unions such as the Fire Brigades Union, MPs, community campaigners and radical lawyers have  pledged their support and provided practical assistance.

The challenge in the year ahead will be to galvanise that support and ensure that we achieve an outcome that will be a fitting testament to those who perished, a comfort to those who survived and a safeguard for the future.

Brian Richardson is a barrister at Nexus Chambers, the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC.

Petition: Call on PM to take action to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

A petition has been created by Adel Chaoui. Please read the details below:

Bereaved families & survivors call on PM to exercise her powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 to appoint additional panel members with decision making power to sit alongside Chair in Grenfell Tower Inquiry: to ensure those affected have confidence in & are willing to fully participate in the Inquiry.

To secure trust in an establishment we feel has been distant & unresponsive, & to avoid a collapse of confidence in the Inquiry’s ability to discover the truth, it is fundamental that;
1. The Inquiry is not led by a judge alone. Panel members must be appointed with relevant background, expertise, experience, & a real understanding of the issues facing those affected
2. Legal representatives of bereaved families see all evidence from the start & are allowed to question witnesses at the hearings

To sign the petition, click here: Call on PM to take action to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry