Recommendations from the first phase of Grenfell Tower Inquiries voted down by the government

by Yusuf Odabashy

Three years on since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it appears that some recommendations from the inquiries are beginning to take effect. The government’s Fire Safety Bill recently cleared the House of Commons and will now be debated in the House of Lords.

Whilst the Bill was being debated in the House of Commons, Labour made several amendments which would have seen crucial recommendations implemented and made law. The amendments included the need for freehold owners to share building information, such as, designs and external wall materials with fire services, as well as carrying out regular inspections and informing residents of evacuation routes.

Though these recommendations may seem reasonable, the government voted them down by 318 votes to 188. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick attempted to justify the decision by saying that it would’ve been “irresponsible” to put measures in place without figuring out the most effective way.

He further added that the recommendations would be incorporated in the future, though he did not specify exactly when this may happen. Despite the government’s official position, it did little to stem the flow of criticism that followed afterwards. Labour Leader Keir Starmer labelled the decision to reject the amendments a “dereliction of duty”, with the group Grenfell United stating that it was “outraged” at the government.

In another turn of events in the Second phase of the Inquiry, on 14th September 2020, the former Design Manager at Harley Facades, Daniel Anketell Jones gave evidence. Though he stated that the nature of cladding meant that it was designed to melt at high temperatures, not burn, he however made headlines for admitting that he had wiped his work computer some months before the fire.

As a part of the evidence he was providing, he told the Inquiry that he chose to keep the work computer when he left, but in doing so, wiped its records clean, effectively erasing all of its content. The nature of the information deleted included the Grenfell Tower Refurbishment project. When asked by Kate Grange QC (Inquiry lawyer) why he deleted the information, he said he  believed that all of its data would have been backed up in the company’s servers (which it wasn’t). Furthermore, evidence given by the Managing Director at Harley Facades, Roy Bailey, states that Anketell Jones arranged for his emails to be deleted from within the company’s servers, something he has so far denied.

This article is intended for guidance only and must not be relied upon for specific advice.

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