ENGLAND (June 14, 2022)—Mourners were united today in grief and frustration as they marked the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.
A memorial service was held in remembrance of the 72 people who lost their lives in the 2017 tragedy, which brought the UK’s serious fire-safety issues to the fore.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea owned Grenfell Tower and it was ultimately responsible for the disastrous refurbishment programme.
It could face a charge of corporate manslaughter, but prosecutors would have to show that senior managers took significant decisions which caused deaths.
More than that, what they did would have to be a “gross breach” of their duty to keep the people of Grenfell safe, falling far short of “reasonable”.
But there is a complication. The job of managing council properties was outsourced to an “arms-length” body, the tenant management organisation (TMO), making it ultimately responsible for the long-term safety of Grenfell. The TMO has also been under investigation for corporate manslaughter.
One area of interest to police has been the standing order to residents to stay put in case of a fire. This led directly to deaths.
The council, facing legal threats from the police and multiple civil claims, has admitted a series of failings. It told the public inquiry its building control department didn’t properly check that the refurbishment of Grenfell was safe.
Council inspectors didn’t ask for comprehensive plans for the cladding system and didn’t know what insulation panels would be used, but still signed off the completed work.
There is also the council’s decision to choose a cheap version of the cladding which was highly flammable. Reynobond PE 55 is made of oil-based plastic. It drips and burns when caught in a fire.
However, the council claims that the architects, designers, cladding suppliers and contractors all recommended the use of that cladding and not an alternative, fire-resistant version.
In those circumstances, the decision could look more reasonable, taking the council out of the range of corporate manslaughter.
Source: The Royal Family, BBC and Independent News reported original article.