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The Housing Secretary has apologised for leaked reports about Grenfell Tower being prepared for demolition, and vowed that the tragedy-hit community will be consulted about the building’s future.
The Sunday Times in September reported that ministers were set to announce the razing of the charred tower, four years after a deadly blaze that claimed 72 lives.
It said there were safety concerns, with structural engineering experts “unambiguously and unanimously” advising that the remains of the block of flats be “carefully taken down”.
But Michael Gove, in a letter published by the same newspaper on Sunday, said he was “truly sorry” for the “tremendous and justified upset” the report had caused survivors, the bereaved, and the west London community.
Mr Gove – who was appointed Housing Secretary on September 15, after the publication of the original Sunday Times article – pledged to take a “different approach”.
He said that any decision regarding the future of the tower would be communicated “directly and respectfully to those affected” and not via anonymous press briefings.
The Cabinet minister said: “I make no criticism of The Sunday Times’ decision to report this story, which came from Government sources.
“However, the news caused tremendous and justified upset to many of those bereaved by the Grenfell tragedy, many who survived it and many who live in the local area.
“I am truly sorry on behalf of the Government that it ever should have occurred.
“As the new Secretary of State for Housing, I write to make clear that I will take a different approach.
“Any decision on the future of the tower will be communicated not through anonymous briefings, but directly and respectfully to those affected.”
Mr Gove said he was “determined” to hear from the community before any decision about what will happen to the burnt-out tower is taken, with a “process of engagement” already underway.
The letter comes after the senior Conservative minister told MPs earlier this month that the Government “failed people at Grenfell”, and that it had not always appreciated the importance of fire safety.
An inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire is currently in phase 2, which is examining Government failures at the time of the June 2017 blaze. It is due to resume on Monday.