Grenfell inquiry told hearing all survivors and bereaved could help save lives

Hearing the voices of all Grenfell Tower survivors and bereaved families could help save lives in the future, an inquiry has heard.

The judge-led probe into the disaster which killed 71 is holding two days of procedural hearings, focusing on case management matters such as timeframes, witnesses and the disclosure of evidence.

Richard Millett, counsel to the inquiry, said evidence from those who escaped the blaze or lost loved ones could help ensure "something like this never happens again".

The Metropolitan Police is now investigating offences including misconduct in public office, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and breaches of fire safety regulations in relation to the fire, it was heard.

Jeremy Johnson, representing the force, said that outside of major counter-terror operations, the police inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy was "unprecedented".

Core participant status has now been granted to 424 individuals and groups, allowing them access to evidence and the right to suggest lines of questioning, it was heard.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the retired Court of Appeal judge leading the process, hopes to deliver an interim report into the fire's causes and the emergency response by next autumn, it was heard.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick is chairing the public inquiry (PA)
Sir Martin Moore-Bick is chairing the public inquiry (PA)

Mr Millett told a hearing at Holborn Bar in central London: "As to the Grenfell Tower survivors, residents and bereaved, it is of great importance to the inquiry that each individual voice of those most affected by the fire is heard.

"This is a shared trauma, a community devastated, but each of them has their own story to tell.

"Their evidence will be crucial to the inquiry's understanding of what happened inside and around Grenfell Tower before the fire, during the fire and after the fire - their evidence can and will help us save the lives of others."

The Inquiry is committed to ensuring that those most directly affected by the fire are able to participate in its work and that their voices are heard.

-- Grenfell Inquiry (@grenfellinquiry) December 10, 2017

A total of 270,000 documents are expected to be submitted to the inquiry to assist its work, it was heard.

Police, meanwhile, have now acquired 31 million documents and seized 2,500 exhibits, Mr Johnson said.

Mr Millett continued: "Giving that evidence is also one aspect of the way that each of them individually can be heard and perhaps find some measure of closure.

He added that the fire at Grenfell Tower was an "utterly appalling event and the experiences of it are stamped on the memories" of those who lived there or lost loved ones.

Michael Mansfield QC, representing 24 different families affected by the fire, urged Sir Martin to ask the Prime Minister to install a panel from a diverse background to sit alongside him.

He pointed to Theresa May's words to Parliament on June 22, when she said the Grenfell Tower residents would be involved "in every step" of the inquiry.

Survivors and bereaved families have long remained suspicious of Sir Martin since his appointment in June, fearing he lacks experience of the complex cultural factors underpinning the disaster.

Mr Mansfield recommended he ask Mrs May to put either two or four experts in place to help his work.

Sir Martin replied: "Do you think it will be of value if the inquiry were to put together a consultative panel?"

Such a group would be able to advise, but not make decisions in the inquiry, he added.

"It would help, but I'm afraid it wouldn't quite solve it," Mr Mansfield said.

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