Grenfell Inquiry Cost Over 100 Times the Cost of Cladding

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So far, the inquiry for the Grenfell fire has cost over £40 million, which is over 100 times more than the savings made by using cheaper cladding instead of fire-retardant cladding. 

Most of the £40 million has so far been spent on a legal team of over 150 lawyers representing victims of the fire, including the survivors and the bereaved. 

72 people died on 14th June 2017 after residents were told to ‘stay put’ for almost two hours. Image source: Adrian Dennis

Other costs that the inquiry has spent include £4.6 million on scientific evidence and investigations, £9 million on back-office costs and £2.6 million on the venue at Holborn Bars. This £40 million inquiry does not include the £10 million already spent on legal fees for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and other departments of government. These public bodies have also given £6.3 million to the legal costs in the inquiry.

The Grenfell inquiry was initiated in August 2017, with the terms of reference being announced by Theresa May. The first hearing was in September of the same year, and the first report from the inquiry was released last week. 

The hearing is expected to run for another two years, which means the bill of the inquiry is likely to run up even higher costs that could reach up to £100 million by 2021.

Deborah Coles, the executive director of Inquest, said: 

“You can’t put a cost on justice. The vital role that the families’ lawyers play in going through thousands of documents and making sure that evidence is properly presented and helping them through a complex and difficult process cannot be overestimated. In the next stage there will be unlimited funds for the corporate lawyers so there has to be a level playing field for families”.

 Inquest is a charity that specialises in prolonged investigations with continuous deaths and has been involved with Grenfell and its many victims. 

So far, the inquiry has reviewed more than 500,000 documents, with 200,000 of those expected to only be shared with core participants of the inquiry. 

The majority of the contents of phase one of the inquiry concerns the reactions of the firefighters on the scene, which the chairman of the investigation claimed was “gravely inadequate”, as their alleged poor preparation possibly led to more unnecessary deaths. Dany Cotton, the commissioner of the London fire brigade, rebuked these claims, stating, “We note the chairman states he has received no expert evidence to guide him on reaching his conclusion.”

This has led to the fire service being under investigation, with millions of pounds worth of evidence being seized and 13 interviews under-caution taking place.

London fire brigade’s chief, Dany Cotton, has dubbed the inquiry as a “stitch up”.

Hearings for the second phase of the inquiry will be in January 2020, with more of a focus on the refurbishment of Grenfell tower and reparations for the victims. This overlaps with the ongoing Met police investigation into the events of Grenfell, and who is responsible. The police will be reviewing possible manslaughter committed by the corporations that provided the fatal cladding, individual gross negligence and various health and safety offenses.

Main image source: Evening Standard