Chair of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry seeks views on the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry
On 15th June 2017, the Prime Minister announced that there would be a Public Inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower that had begun the day before. She has since announced that the Inquiry will be chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
Public inquiries investigate issues of serious public concern, scrutinising decisions and events. There are rules governing how public inquiries work, set out in the Inquiries Act 2005.
Public Inquiries are different from criminal investigations. A parallel criminal investigation into the fire is being carried out by the Metropolitan Police and is separate from this Public Inquiry. The Public Inquiry will not itself result in any criminal prosecutions: it is intended to provide facts and recommendations to Government and other authorities. Its findings may be relevant for those who are responsible for deciding whether there should be any prosecution. If, during the course of its investigation, the Inquiry comes across criminal activity it will pass the information to the relevant authorities immediately.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is designed to ascertain the causes of the tragedy, and ensure that the appropriate lessons are learnt. To do this, the Inquiry will need to examine all relevant circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower, its spread to the whole of the building, and its effect on residents. That necessarily means looking at circumstances well beyond the design, construction and modification of the building itself. It will mean looking at the role of relevant public authorities and contractors and the broader implications of the fire for the adequacy and enforcement of relevant regulations. It will mean looking at the arrangements in place locally for handling emergencies of this sort and the handling of concerns previously expressed by local residents. This list is not exhaustive.
The scope of a public inquiry is fixed by its Terms of Reference. Those Terms of Reference have not yet been determined. The Prime Minister has asked the Inquiry team to conduct a public consultation on the Terms of Reference and make recommendations on what they should cover. The Chair therefore is seeking views on what the Terms of Reference for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry should cover. He wants to hear from those directly affected by the fire, or are otherwise likely to be involved in the work of the Inquiry, but is not restricting this consultation to them.
The Inquiry will report in two phases, with an interim report being published as quickly as possible.
There will be a series of meetings within the next ten days to listen to victims’ families, survivors and others affected and take their views. Information will be made available on the time and place of the meetings. Alternatively views can be submitted in writing by letter addressed to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, not later than the end of the day on 14th July 2017.
The Chair hopes that those submitting views will understand the need for such a short deadline. He cannot begin to take evidence until he has been given Terms of Reference. Naturally he wants to do that as soon as possible. It will not be possible to respond to individual written submissions, but their receipt will be acknowledged and all views provided by the deadline will be taken into consideration.
The Chair welcomes any suggestions or views. The following questions could be used as guide but are not restrictive.
- What do you think the Inquiry should cover?
- Is there any type of evidence that you think is essential for the Inquiry to obtain?
- What should the Inquiry deal with in its interim report? What should be left for the main report, so the interim report can be published quickly?
- Would you like to be kept informed of the Inquiry’s work? How would you like to be contacted?
The Terms of Reference can, on the recommendation of the Chair, be varied by the Prime Minister during the course of the Inquiry, if it appears necessary to do so.
GRENFELL TOWER PUBLIC INQUIRY TEAM