THE GRENFELL INQUIRY HAS BEEN HALTED!
Hearings have been cancelled until the charman of the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick considers a demand from lawyers representing architects, builders and corporations.
These witnesses have said that they will not give evidence unless they have copper-bottom assurances that their evidence will not be used to prosecute them.
No resumption date for the inquiry has been given.
Moore-Bick is expected to urge the attorney general to give an assurance to prevent the use of evidence given by witnesses being used against them in any future proceedings.
The implication is that if the attorney general is unable to give that assurance, then the inquiry will effectively be halted.
A spokesman for the Inquiry said yesterday that ‘A further announcement regarding the timetable will be made once the panel has issued its ruling on the application.’
The demand for protection against prosecution was made last week by lawyers acting for Studio E, the cladding contractor Harley Facades, current and former employees of the main contractor Rydon and officials of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.
There was huge shock at the inquiry last week when the application was made by some of the corporate core participants to be granted the privilege not to self-incriminate when they give evidence.
Hearings have now been suspended until a decision is made by the Attorney General.
Many ex-tenants of Grenfell Tower, survivors of the fire, fear that the inquiry is about to be shut down or put into a ‘Limbo’.
Speaking for two of the four survivor groups, QC Michael Mansfield strongly condemned the nature of the application.
He said: ‘It’s barely a week ago that the representatives of the witness we understand is requesting the undertaking (…) that they were standing here commiserating with the families one after another, saying how they sympathise with the agony and the tragedy and the sorrow and at the same time saying they (the families) are entitled to answers to the questions and the truth.
‘What we did not know at that stage was underneath all of this was an intention to tell the truth on their terms.’
Mansfield went on to urge the chair not to put the question to the Attorney General.
He suggested pushing the burden of whether to answer or not back on the witnesses to decide for themselves. He said: ‘If they decide the honourable things to do is to not answer questions, at that point they would have to justify to you and provide reasonable grounds – not all the detail – about what they are worried about.
‘In other words, what’s the area in which they might have material that might incriminate them.’
He added: ‘They must come here and justify in front of you, in front of the families, in front of the public.’
Moore-Bick said the inquiry would consider its options and provide an update on the course of action as soon as possible.
Witnesses who had been due to attend tomorrow have been stood down, he said, and no timeframe was given for when hearings might resume.