ATTORNEY General Suella Braverman’s undertaking that evidence given by contractors at the Grenfell Inquiry will not be used to prosecute them constitutes ‘One rule for them and another for us,’ firefighters union the FBU insisted yesterday.
The Attorney General has written to the Chair of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry notifying him of her decision to provide an undertaking, meaning any individual who gives evidence to the Inquiry (in Phase 2, Modules 1 to 3) cannot have that evidence used in any prosecution against them in the future.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, commented: ‘Firefighters gave evidence openly and in good faith to the Inquiry and will be appalled that this undertaking has been provided.
‘It seems there is one rule for them and another for those doing the bidding of the profiteers who turned Grenfell into a deathtrap.
‘It has been nearly a month since the Inquiry last sat and almost a thousand days since the tragedy itself. There must be no more delays. The truth must now come out – and those responsible must be finally held to account.’
The Unite union, which is supporting 65 core participants at the inquiry into the Grenfell fire, has described as ‘absolutely outrageous’, the revelation that companies involved in supplying and installing the cladding have been given immunity from prosecution before they give evidence.
Unite assistant general secretary for legal affairs Howard Beckett said: ‘This is absolutely outrageous. The corporate manslaughter legislation in the UK is already weak enough, without giving companies, who could have been culpable in the deaths of 72 innocent people, immunity from prosecution.
‘The Attorney General upholding this request – it is a mockery of justice.
‘If the companies involved in installing the cladding knew it was flammable and unsafe and then allowed it to be installed anyway they should of course be prosecuted.
‘This is a key test of whether the government wants a proper inquiry which reveals the truth or if they are simply involved in a whitewashing exercise.
‘The validity of the inquiry has already been undermined with the issue of cladding not being considered in its first phase and also the Benita Mehra controversy.
‘With immunity from prosecution now granted the victims of this terrible and entirely preventable tragedy will lose all confidence in the justice system.’
ASLEF, the train drivers’ trade union, said: ‘It’s scandalous that companies have been given immunity from prosecution.
‘While we understand that they bullied the inquiry’s chair – by threatening to withhold evidence – it is abhorrent that they may escape without being held to account.
‘It is only when companies and the CEOs, directors and senior management who implement the deadly policies that cause the deaths of men and women in the workplace or, as here, in their homes, are held to account for their actions – often made to increase profits and their bonuses – will we know that we live in a just world.’