Grenfell Inquiry bans survivors and relatives while safety experts didn’t even bother to read about cladding

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GRENFELL survivors and relatives of the 72 people killed in the Grenfell Tower inferno are furious that they have been excluded from the inquiry that re-started on Monday under strict social distancing rules.

Despite the fact that the Tories have been driving forward relaxation of these rules when it comes to re-opening pubs, restaurants and shops and exhorting people to come out and spend, spend and spend to save the economy, none of this applies to the bereaved and their supporters.

They are banned from attending the hearing which is taking place with only the inquiry panel, witnesses and their lawyers along with cross-examining inquiry counsel permitted to be present.

Monday saw the opening of the second phase of the Grenfell Inquiry which will hear testimony from corporate witnesses from the firms responsible for creating the death trap at Grenfell Tower.

In February these witnesses and the companies they work for were granted immunity by the Tory attorney general from prosecution arising out of the evidence they give following the threat that they would refuse to give evidence that would reveal crimes they had committed.

This immunity was also granted to the Kensington and Chelsea Management Organisation (TMO), the private company paid by the council to run and maintain Grenfell Tower.

In fact the fear of prosecution for the criminal acts carried out against Grenfell Tower residents was well grounded.

It emerged in the first phase of the inquiry that there existed overwhelming evidence that the designers and contractors who installed the cladding responsible for turning the Tower into a death trap knew in 2011 that this cladding had failed fire safety tests and was ‘not suitable for use on building facades’.

This total disregard for human life and the cavalier dismissal of all risk was brought home by the first witnesses’ statements heard this week.

Terry Ashton, the lead fire and safety consultant of the cladding refurbishment told the inquiry that he had ignored the documents outlining the proposed insulation and cladding materials to be used.

Ashton said he didn’t read an email from the project architects detailing the cladding system because he was not the ‘primary recipient’ and he had not bothered to read the plans because they were ‘very lengthy documents’.

Ashton is employed by the materials and testing firm Exova employed to assess the refurbishment and has been a fire consultant for 25 years despite having no formal training.

He produced a fire safety strategy that made no mention of plans to reclad the tower, and concluded that: ‘The proposed changes will have no adverse effect on the building in relation to external fire spread, but this will be confirmed by an analysis in a future issue of this report.’

Ashton has already told the inquiry he gave advice on the fire safety of the refurbishment and cladding without even once visiting the tower block.

No wonder the inquiry was desperate to keep survivors and relatives of those killed out of the room while those with responsibility for overseeing the fire risk from cladding already known in the industry to be a massive danger testify they couldn’t be bothered to read relevant documents because they were too ‘lengthy’.

This entire inquiry has been a sham from the start.

The public are excluded out of fear that they will explode in anger as they listen to the contemptuous disregard for the lives of workers living in a death trap.

It was a death trap built by companies out to make a profit out of using cheap, deadly materials and relying on them being passed as safe by companies that ignored the most fundamental safety oversight.

There must be no immunity for these criminals.

Grenfell was not an accident. It was the inevitable result of a Tory government working hand in glove with these companies to make a profit out of building deathtraps for workers and their families.

Justice for the crimes committed for profit will not be achieved through this sham inquiry but only by bringing down this Tory government and bringing in a workers’ government that will arrest the real criminals and force them to answer in court for their murderous crimes against the working class.