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Next phase of hearings delayed and ‘unlikely’ to start before 2020



The next phase of hearings into the Grenfell Tower fire is set to be delayed until 2020.

The judge leading the inquiry into the disaster, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, said the second phase of hearings was “unlikely” to start “before the end of next year”.

It was expected that phase two – which will look into the critical circumstances and decisions leading up to the disaster – could begin in spring next year but it has been pushed back due to the scale of the investigation.

In closing statements for phase one of the inquiry, Sir Martin acknowledged that people were eager to shine a light on the decisions which ultimately led to the fire that left 72 people dead.

The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 left 72 people dead
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 left 72 people dead

But he said: “The inquiry expects to disclose 200,000 documents to the core participants and is about to start to do so.

“The work won’t be complete until Autumn next year.

“There is a large number of documents which will need to be reviewed, redacted and digested.

“There is lots to do and its likely to identify new questions.

Bereaved relatives have attended phase one of the inquiry in Holborn, central London
Bereaved relatives have attended phase one of the inquiry

“The investigation must be thorough and work takes time.”

He added: “Given the scale of the preparations that have to be carried out, I think it is unlikely that it will be possible to start phase two hearings before the end of next year.

“However, careful and detailed preparation which enables us to focus on the aspects of the programme that are of real significance should make it possible to ensure that the proceedings, once begun, can be completed within a reasonable time.”

A preliminary report into the findings of the fact-finding stage of phase one is due to be published but a date has not yet been confirmed.

SIr Martin said some of the bereaved and survivors have said certain steps should be taken immediately in light of public safety concerns.

It was also confirmed that the hearings will resume in a new location which will be closer to west London where the fire took place.

The premises will also be larger to accommodate more people who were affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick has announced that phase two of the inquiry will not take place in spring 2019
Sir Martin Moore-Bick says phase two of the inquiry will not take place in spring 2019

Survivors and bereaved relatives have said they have struggled to get to the central London venue, and they do not feel it is laid out with them at the heart of proceedings.

Sir Martin said: “I am pleased to tell you that we have found some premises in west London which have recently become available and which would provide us with what we need, involving a large hearing room.

“We have begun negotiations to take this premises and if all goes well we should be able to move in for the start of phase two proceedings.”

The first phase of the inquiry had been hearing evidence since May, when 10 days of commemoration hearings gave relatives of victims the chance to pay tribute to their loved ones.

Grenfell Tower lit up green on the first anniversary of the fire


Green lights for Grenfell fire anniversary

Since then the probe has sat for almost 100 days and collected and disclosed 20,000 documents.

Some 668 firefighter statements have been submitted, with 88 officers giving oral evidence.

Sir Martin said he was “particularly grateful” for the 307 statements received from those who have lost relatives, survivors, and local residents.

Thirty five of them gave evidence in person.

He said his interim report will be produced “as soon as possible, having regard to the volume of material that has to be digested”.

A spokesman for campaign group Grenfell United said: “We are pleased the inquiry team have finally heard us about the venue.

“We’ve been asking for a move since day one.”

The public inquiry into the disaster is larger than any other in terms of the number of core participants which currently stands at 598.

Its aim is to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire, and make recommendations for action to prevent a similar tragedy happening again.

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