Thousands of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have been prohibited from attending hearings as the delayed public inquiry resumes on Monday.
The bereaved families have been infuriated as the strict social distancing rules have barred them from witnessing the questioning of the builders behind the tragic Grenfell Tower refurbishment. Seventy-two people lost their lives due to the disastrous fire which occurred in June 2017.
The vice-chair of the families group Grenfell United, Karim Mussilhy, who lost his uncle Hesham Rahman in the fire, said: “For us, a part of the justice process is being able to be in the room when people who are responsible for what happened to our loved ones face questions.
“It’s hard to understand why people are allowed back into pubs, but we’re not allowed back into the inquiry. They told us we would be at the heart of this inquiry and now they are saying we’re not allowed in.”
Hearings will be conducted with only the inquiry panel, led by Sir Martin Moore-Brick, witnesses, their lawyers and cross-examining inquiry counsel in attendance in the Paddington hearing room. Those interested have been invited to follow proceedings online.
The executives from Exova and the fire engineers blamed for playing down non-compliance of the cladding system will be the first under cross-examination. Next week the staff Rydon, the main contractor that oversaw the selection of the plastic-filled panels that caused the fire to spread.
The final evidence from the architect from Studio E, Bruce Scones, who acknowledged that he did not read building regulations meant to prevent cladding fires and did not even know that panels used to insulate buildings could be combustible. The inquiry also heard that Studio E manoeuvred its fees in order to avoid the contract being put out to open tender.