Grenfell – survivors and firefighters under attack

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‘WE HAVE been appalled about the way in which the numbers of those who have died have been publicised all the way along,’ Yvette Williams, Campaign coordinator for the Justice for Grenfell group told News Line yesterday.

She was responding to the claims by Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack on Tuesday that the number of people which the police believe died in the fire, which they said was around 80, may go down because some of those people who had originally been reported missing had been found safe and well and ‘some were fraudulent’. She went on to say that there are 60 who they know have died in the fire.

Yvette Williams continued: ‘Everyone is very upset by that. After the police made that broadcast, we have clarified with them that the number of 60 is the number of people identified. In terms of the final death toll they know that the number will be higher.

‘What we do know is that at some point the coroner has to come to some conclusion about how many people have actually died. At some point, they will have to add all those who are missing to that number. We feel that all the way along there has been a tendency to play down the number of people who have died, to play down really how great a disaster this really is.

‘The way in which the number of how many have died has come out is different from other disasters. On the first day after the fire, they said three had died and that number kept rising day by day. In other disasters like 9/11 they started at a greater number and worked their way down.

‘We would like to know why in this case they started with the lowest number and worked their way up rather than the other way around and we believe it is because they are trying to play down what happened and that they hoped by now it would be out of the public eye.’

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner has announced that the Metropolitan Police are conducting a criminal investigation into the emergency response to the fire, after concerns were raised that the fire service had told some people to stay in their flats on the night of the fire.

On this, Yvette Williams set the record straight with a robust defence of the fire fighters. She said: ‘I am a great supporter of the fire service and have overwhelming gratitude for all of the firefighters who risked their lives to help us.

‘In many ways the rank-and-file officers virtually gave their lives on that night. They were given orders from their higher officers who believed the “stay put” policy was effective. The “stay put” policy had been effective on other buildings in other fires. It would have been effective in Grenfell had the building been made safe and the proper fire and safety measures been in place. This is where the issue of deregulation comes in.

‘What I am interested in finding out, and I hope this comes out at the inquiry, is at what point did the senior fire officers during the night realise that the the “stay put” policy was not working and what action did they take at that point?’