Former housing director quizzed over Grenfell Tower information delays

The former housing director of the firm that ran Grenfell Tower was left on the verge of tears as she was quizzed over delays in providing firefighters with vital information.

A total of 72 people lost their lives as a result of the fire in the 24-storey block of flats, in west London, on June 14 last year.

A public inquiry has heard the London Fire Brigade (LFB) repeatedly requested details of the building and its occupants as they battled the blaze.

Robert Black, then chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), claimed the company, which looks after 10,000 homes, did not have a role in the council’s emergency plan.

But Teresa Brown, who left her job as director of housing earlier this year, said the TMO’s role on the scene was to respond to requests for information from the emergency services and council, as well as co-ordinating work in rest centres.

She told the inquiry on Friday, she spent most of her time at the centre in St Clement’s Church after arriving at around 3.50am.

“What we were doing was literally going around everyone in that rest centre checking they were okay, if there was anything we could do to support them, getting their name, their address, finding out if all their household was safe and recording that,” she said.

St Clement’s Church
St Clement’s Church

Ms Brown said she then hand-delivered information gathered on those who were safe and missing to firefighters.

The inquiry has heard her boss, Mr Black, did not forward a list of residents to the LFB for more than two hours after the email was sent by a colleague to him, Ms Brown and others.

Ms Brown said she had been focusing on gathering “real-time information” from the rest centres, while Mr Black was stood at the LFB command centre, rather than sending on the official data.

“I’m sorry if that was the wrong choice, but that’s what I was doing at the time,” she said.

“I think I made the assumption that if someone had needed it, he (Mr Black) would have been able to provide it because he had it.”

Asked if she knew whether a council liaison officer had been “pressing” Mr Black for that type of information, she was left on the verge of tears.

She said: “No, I was in St Clement’s rest centre for a considerable amount of hours really trying to do the best I could.”