Corporate witnesses are ‘trying to sabotage’ the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry

The Canary

Corporate witnesses involved in refurbishing Grenfell Tower with flammable materials are trying to “derail” and “sabotage” the public inquiry by threatening to stay silent unless they are guaranteed they will not be prosecuted, it has been claimed.

The inquiry into the disaster which killed 72 people heard that the “potential perpetrators of this inferno” are trying to “essentially dictate the terms in which they will provide their assistance”.

Chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick is considering a request to write to Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC asking for an undertaking that would stop any evidence staff may give being used against them in any future criminal proceedings.

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On 3 February, Michael Mansfield QC who’s representing victims of the fire said that there’s an “overwhelming and strong” consensus opposing the application.

He continued: “The families say to them directly today, would they kindly take a moment to reflect and reconsider whether they really want to put the families through more anguish, more agony through the months that come.”

He also said: “They are pretending that they want a full and open inquiry in which they will co-operate.

“We say it is abhorrent to the interests of justice that those who are potential perpetrators of this inferno, who have caused the loss of life, injury, which is often overlooked, the loss of homes.

“Then, and continuing now and well into the future, can those potential perpetrators come here and essentially dictate the terms in which they will provide their assistance?”

He said the timing of the application appears to be an “attempt to derail this inquiry”, adding: “If it was serious this would have been done months ago.”

Mansfield said if the undertaking was granted: “Are we to trust that these very same people with this blanket undertaking will come here and tell the unvarnished truth?

“I doubt it.”

He went on: “Going one stage further, I would say were it to be granted, given the climate of denial and buck-passing … the granting of an undertaking in this context will be tantamount, I fear, to a licence to lie.”

But Moore-Bick said that “might be going a bit far” as it would not cover giving false evidence to the inquiry.

Stephanie Barwise QC, representing another group of victims, said: “In short, the timing of this application is highly disingenuous and bears all the hallmarks of sabotage of this inquiry.”

The Fire Brigades Union also pointed out that “no firefighter sought immunity” when giving evidence during the inquiry:

Retired appeal court judge Moore-Bick is hearing the application for firms including external wall subcontractor Harley Facades, main contractor Rydon, architects Studio E, and window and cladding fitters Osborne Berry.

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  • Show Comments
    1. I am not surprised: everyone has a right to remain silent, and a right to avoid incriminating themselves. In a criminal prosecution, the defendant is not expected to cooperate with the prosecution: it is adversarial. People are loudly demanding prosecution, so these corporate guys are exercising their rights, and offering to speak, providing they have immunity for anything they say. May not sound fair to those who want to see them in jail, but this is not unexpected.

    2. I’m really suprised the elected officials who altered the building regulations so the Firemen had no say of any consequence aren’t open to criminal prosecution as well including the Minister for manslaughter.
      This court is inadequate in bringing justice to those who perished it seems to me.
      Who makes the rules up???

      1. They may well be court prosecutions in the end, but nothing should happen until after the Inquiry concludes, because one process might compromise the other. The Inquiry is not a court, or a means to prosecute or exact vengeance, it is a search for the truth about what happened.
        The court action may start once the Inquiry is over.

    3. I can see why the Corporate witnesses want the right to be free of prosecution as they may be found to be solely to blame without going any further to uncover what went wrong.
      Which means they don’t think this is an impartial inquiry.
      This scandal must reach right to the core of the highest levels of society, which is why justice has been be stalled, obstructed for years.
      This doesn’t mean I know anything.
      Its just my perception of what happened at Grenfell after observing a similiarily socially structured event where I live concerning a huge blame game with horrendous lawsuits which ordinary peoiple had to end up paying for.
      Ordinary people are the innocent victims.

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