THE SECOND phase of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower Fire began yesterday with families and friends of the 72 men, women and children who died on that horrific night demanding that unless a new panellist is found to replace Benita Mehra, who was forced to resign, the inquiry should be shut down.
The inquiry resumed on Monday morning in the hearing room in Paddington.
Mehra was forced to resign from the inquiry panel over her links to Arconic, the firm which supplied the flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower.
As yet, her replacement has not been appointed and families and survivors of Grenfell have said they will call for the inquiry to be ‘put on hold’ if the government fails to add a new panellist soon.
Grenfell United, a group representing bereaved families and survivors, said: ‘Those responsible continue to deflect blame and we have to suffer their persistent refusal to accept accountability for the preventable loss of life. They must now be held to account.
‘The truth will be exposed and at the end of this process it will be clear that criminal charges must be brought for the deaths of our loved ones. It has been over two-and-a-half years but our need to see justice has not faded.’
However, many have lost all faith in the inquiry, which has blamed the fire service for the tragedy, and has no power to enforce prosecution of the companies, council and government, who all played a role.
It was PM Johnson himself who was pushing for Mehra to be appointed to the panel.
The inquiry heard yesterday that none of the companies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower have accepted responsibility for the deadly fire.
Dave Wiltshire, secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance (ATUA), commented: ‘Trade unions like Unite called for Benita Mehra to be sacked after it emerged that she had a connection with Arconic.
‘The inquiry has now begun again but without Mehra being replaced.
‘Meanwhile fire services up and down the country are still being slashed and cut to the bone and major fires, if anything are on the increase after Grenfell.
‘There is only one way to resolve this issue … and that is for the trade unions to take action to save tenants’ lives by bringing down the Johnson government and going forward to a workers government that will build hundreds and thousands of council homes to satisfy workers housing needs and to demolish the giant tower blocks which remain fire traps and should never have been built in the first place.’