1 November 2019

Earlier this week, the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire published the report from the first phase of the inquiry. The report makes 46 evidence based recommendations.

The recommendations made were chillingly familiar. Following the Lakanal House tower block fire in 2009 where six people died, the coroner made recommendations including on reviewing the ‘stay put’ policy and building regulations, due to the spread of the fire on the exterior of the building. When the Grenfell Tower fire happened, these recommendations had still not been actioned.

The residents of Grenfell Tower were catastrophically failed before, during and after the fire. Key findings of this report are strikingly similar to those which followed the Lakanal House fire in 2009. Had previous recommendations been implemented, those in Grenfell Tower may have been safe."

Deborah Coles spoke to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. The recommendations from Lakanal House "were left to gather dust", she said. 

Recommendations made by public inquiries, and other investigative processes which follow deaths, are not currently binding on the Government. For over 15 years, INQUEST has called for a ‘national oversight mechanism’, an independent public body tasked with the duty to collate, analyse and monitor learning and implementation arising out of all ‘Article 2’ state related deaths. 

"This fire was predictable and preventable. A national oversight mechanism is urgently needed, to ensure official recommendations from inquiries and inquests are systematically followed up. The lasting legacy of Grenfell must be structural change. This requires meaningful action from the inquiry and government, to ensure those affected are not failed once again.”

Further media coverage:

  • The Grenfell families have been vindicated. Now they need justice, The Guardian
  • Grenfell survivors demand prosecution of top fire brigade officers after damning inquiry report, The Independent
  • Boris Johnson says Grenfell survivors and bereaved 'overlooked and ignored' before deadly blaze, Daily Mail

INQUEST produced a briefing in advance of parliamentary debates on Grenfell Tower in the House of Commons and the House Lords.

Based on INQUEST’s long running work supporting families bereaved by state related deaths and consultation with families Family reflections on Grenfell: No voice left unheard, INQUEST put forth the following recommendations:

  1. The establishment of a ‘national oversight mechanism’. An independent, public body with the duty to collate, analyse and monitor recommendations and their implementation arising from post death investigations, inquiries and inquests.
  2. That the Government and Inquiry team listens to the voices of bereaved families who have made practical and insightful suggestions for change to establish best practice, not just for this Inquiry but for future disasters and inquiries.
  3. The reintroduction of The Public Authority (Accountability) Bill to establish a statutory duty of candour on state authorities and officers and private entities whose activities impact on public safety.

In the House of Lords, Baroness Kidron spoke about the need for a national oversight mechanism and for the reintroduction of the Public Authority (Accountability) Bill. "Perhaps the Minister can say whether the Government will implement such a mechanism to make sure history does not repeat itself"

In the House of Commons, Joanna Cherry MP stressed the importance of implementing recommendations from the Grenfell Inquiry and listening to the voices of those bereaved. "The lived experience of families must be at the heart of any work that goes forward." 

On Politics Live Andy McDonald MP spoke about the important recommendations of INQUEST - the establishment of a National Oversight Mechanism and reintroduction of a Public Accountability Bill. "I think we need to look at the recommendations of INQUEST very carefully. These are of great interest." (listen from 9 minutes).