‘WE ARE extremely pleased, we are relieved, but we are disappointed that we had to go through all of this to get the Prime Minister to listen,’ said Karim Mussilhy from Grenfell United Community. He was responding to the news yesterday afternoon that Tory PM May had given way and announced two more people will sit on the panel inquiring into the Grenfell Fire, a move pushed for by survivors and the 156,000 who signed their petition.
Karim Mussilhy added: ‘This panel is going to help massively in the public inquiry into uncovering not only why did this fire happen but how did this happen. ‘And of course to make the recommendations so that this never happens again, and we hope the inquiry will uncover the truth.’
The two new people will ‘support’ chairman Judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick for phase two of his investigation, which is due to start hearing formal evidence later this month. Survivors’ groups had said the inquiry risked being a whitewash unless Theresa May installed a diverse panel to oversee proceedings. And 156,000 signed a petition calling for individuals from a wide range of backgrounds to sit alongside Moore-Bick.
May made the announcement in a written statement to MPs on Friday, ahead of Monday’s House of Commons debate on the fire, which ripped through the west London tower block last June, killing so many men, women and children.
Grenfell United spokesman Adel Chaoui said: ‘This panel means that the inquiry will have the expertise it needs to get to the truth of why our community was not listened to when we raised concerns, why such a dangerous refurbishment could be allowed to go ahead and all the issues that led up to that awful night. ‘These are the questions that need to be answered to make sure this never happens again.’
The announcement came the day after May spoke with a group of people affected by the tragedy.
Bereaved Nabil Choucair who lost six members of his family met with the Prime Minister in Westminster. He said the meeting was ‘a total let down’. He told Sky News he was ‘really upset and disgusted with how May has handled it and dealt with it’.
He said May responded to their request and petition by saying she would only ‘reflect on it’. Nabil Choucair, who lost his mother, sister, brother-in-law and their three children, told PM May to her face he has no confidence in her. He said that his feeling was that May was not listening to the points raised by the group, saying: ‘It’s like we’re talking and it’s going in but then out the other ear.’
Following the meeting, May was presented with a print of a painting by Damel Carayol, adorned with the caption: ‘Eyesore!! Final Straw.’
The 55-year-old artist, from north London, lost family members in the fire. One of them was his niece Khadija Saye, a fellow artist who died shortly before her work was to be exhibited for the first time. After hearing reports a few days after the fire that the fatal cladding was attached to the building for aesthetic reasons, he told Sky News, ‘That tipped me over the edge … it was pure anger. I didn’t plan or think, I just grabbed my one canvas that was left.’
Damel Carayol said he created the painting out of ‘pure anger’.
This anger seems to have convinced May to change her tune about the composition of the inquiry.