Grenfell fire caused by corporate greed and disregard for safety – lawyers

The Grenfell Tower disaster was caused by a “complex combination of corporate greed with complete disregard for safety” as well as professional incompetence, oversight and organisational failings, lawyers have told an inquiry.

The fire at the residential tower block on the night of June 24 2017 resulted in 72 deaths.

The public inquiry, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, has examined the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire and is now at the stage of receiving closing statements.

In over-arching submissions to the inquiry, lawyers representing one of the groups of bereaved, survivors and residents, said responsibility for the fire and the deaths “lies primarily with those responsible for selecting or allowing the use of ACMPE cladding panels; since it was that which caused the uncontrollability and rapid spread of the fire”.

Tower block fire in London
The remains of Grenfell Tower (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The written submission said: “Like many disasters however, GT (Grenfell Tower) was the product of multiple failures of competence and organisational failures which ultimately resulted in a technical failure.”

In conclusion, the submission, published on the inquiry’s website, said: “The full extent of the disaster was caused by a complex combination of corporate greed with complete disregard for safety, professional incompetence, oversight and organisational failings and facilitated by an insufficiently robust regime.

“Certain protagonists however tower above the rest in terms of their responsibility.

“Principally Arconic, Exova and SE.”

A separate closing statement from lawyers representing those directly affected by the tragedy referred to “a desperate, impassioned plea that this inquiry produces a set of recommendations and conclusions such that it leads to wholesale change to the housing sector in the UK”.

Tower block fire in London
The fire took place in June 2017 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The submission said: “Moving on, much has been said by the lawyers for the core participants who are not bereaved, survivors or residents, including what might have been intended as an apology for their acts, omission and failures.

“Whilst we have not yet seen what each of them now say, having heard what you and I have heard, it seems to our clients that what is now required is an unequivocal, unambiguous and forthright apology for their part in the disaster.

“As Sir William MacPherson rightly said, unless there is recognition, acknowledgment and acceptance of the problem, it cannot be solved.

“We, therefore, invite, and look forward to, each and every legal representative on behalf of these clients to make that apology during their closing remarks.

“In the event that any does not, our clients will consider this to be injustice heaped upon injustice and a mark of disrespect.”

Closing statements from lawyers representing other core participants will be heard this week.

They include companies linked to the refurbishment of the tower, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Mayor of London.