Grenfell residents who raised safety fears before fire were bullied, inquiry hears

After the fire: Grenfell Tower.

Lawyers for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire have told the inquiry into the disaster that residents were “bullied” and “stigmatised” for raising safety concerns.

Michael Mansfield QC, representing a group of survivors and the bereaved, said Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council regarded the 24-storey block in North Kensington as an “eyesore which required cosmetic surgery to make it more palatable to its elegant and wealthy neighbours”.

So it provided a refurbishment between 2012 and 2016 that was only a “superficial facelift while neglecting underlying deficiencies”.

The council, along with the body that ran Grenfell Tower and oversaw the refurbishment, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), ran a complaints system for residents that was “outdated, cumbersome, not simple and was used to shut them off, lock them out essentially”, said Mr Mansfield.

He said the council and TMO had a “culture of indifference”.

Edward Daffarn, a member of the Grenfell Action Group, wrote a series of blog posts about safety issues in the building and raised concerns with the council – such as a fire door with a broken closing mechanism.

This was pointed out in 2015 and the door still wasn’t working on the night of the fire in 2017, allowing smoke into a central area on one floor where two people died.

The inquiry heard the council described Mr Daffarn’s blog posts as “scaremongering”.

Another lawyer, Stephanie Barwise QC, read an email from council worker Laura Johnson, sent during the building’s refurbishment, saying that a councillor would not want to attend a public meeting of people “moaning about minor issues”.

In fact residents had correctly identified issues such as gas pipes in hallways, problems with fire doors, power surges, a failed ventilation system and access for fire engines.

London Fire Brigade warned in the months before the fire that cladding could be dangerous. The inquiry heard the council simply forwarded the letter from the fire brigade to the TMO, saying: “FYI.”

James Ageros, lawyer for the TMO, said: “The TMO does not accept that it ever adopted a dismissive attitude toward residents or indeed toward their complaints and concerns.”

He said the inquiry should consider whether the TMO could have been expected to see through the “deceptions” of cladding manufacturers about the safety of their products.

Hundreds of other building owners and management organisations had not been able to “untangle this subterfuge”, he said.

In its submissions, the council apologised for its failings in monitoring the TMO and said “the council could have, and should have, done more to stop it happening”.

It’s a big buck-passing exercise, isn’t it?

The council apologises and says it should have monitored the TMO; the TMO doesn’t apologise and says it could not have been expected to see through “deceptions” by the manufacturers of the cladding.

My opinion? Residents are right to blame them all. The council, at least, has admitted a failing. The TMO should have recognised any false claims by the cladding manufacturers; that’s part of its reason for existing and the council should have realised this wasn’t happening.

And residents were ignored – until they died.

And now, residents at other blocks with similar cladding are being penalised for living in places where the landlord made the wrong decision because the Tory government is ignoring their concerns.

History repeats itself. The UK is run by people who want to take your money and do nothing in return – especially people in government.

We can vote them out – for example at the local elections in May.

But that rarely seems to happen. Why?

Source: Grenfell residents ‘bullied’ for raising safety fears before fire – BBC News

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9 thoughts on “Grenfell residents who raised safety fears before fire were bullied, inquiry hears

  1. Peter Robinson

    Yet another item equating Edward Daffarn as the Grenfell Action Group. The GAG blog consisted of two people, with the text honed, crafted and typed up by Francis O’Connor.
    Daffarn chose to dump his friend and the blog after the fire, citing trauma, amongst other things. Trauma which did not prevent him from flying to Australia to follow the English cricket team.
    Francis has continued the GAG blog.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Does he make good points, though? If so, then why should we be interested in gossip?

  2. disabledgrandad

    Is there any real point to this huge waste of time and money inquiry? We know they are guilty but no charges will ever be brought, no prison time for the deaths. As soon as they offer immunity to prosecution then you know the whitewash was setup and gaslighting can begin. This passing the back no one is guilty wringing of the hands, the dreaded ‘Lessons will be learned’ BS…

    So a huge report is generated that everyone then ignores and business carries on as usual.

    The police should have shut down the council offices the next day raided this companies headquarters responsible for the cladding and the builders the same day but left them for days to destroy evidence and get the story straight and now we see the grand buck-passing exercise. Where we endlessly hear it’s not my job and how could I know excuse. The guilty just evade and deceive enabled by the state and sod the little people who cares about them attitude from the Tory scum in charge.

    So I ask again what is the point?

    Then watch idiots believe this enquiry, shake their heads and it could never happen to my family they believe the convenient lies. Then they vote for the same counselors and politicians responsible, so do people never learn? .

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Sorry but it looks like this is an argument between you and this other person. If he’s falsely taking credit for your work then I sympathise but arguing about it can only distract from this issue – or so it seems to me. Readers are, as always, invited to make up their own minds.

      1. Francis O'Connor

        Sorry,you say, but you’re saying so strikes me as entirely disingenuous. You clearly haven’t done your homework. If you had you would have read Daffarn’s sworn statement to the first part of the Grenfell Inquiry which is written entirely in the plural (‘we’) and in which my name appears multiple times. I’m afraid your own ego prevents you from even considering that you too may be mistaken and that you may have drank the kool-aid and fallen victim, like so many others, to the lies and disinformation that Daffarn is in deep collusion with. Daffarn is in love with his own myth and benefits greatly from the fame and celebrity he now enjoys. Did you know, for instance, that the Grenfell United twitter feed has recently introduced a new hashtag to milk the daffarn myth even further – #wearealleddaffarn

        You can find it here: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23wearealleddaffarn&src=typeahead_click

        Right now I feel that I’m talking to the wall. Why do I bother?

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        You make my point for me. This Site was one of the first – if not the very first – to point out the political aspect of the Grenfell tragedy, at considerable risk due to a shaming campaign in the media at the time. I was right to do it and I don’t regret it. But it saddens me that the people for whom I was standing up at the time have descended to squabbling among themselves and picking arguments with me when they could be doing something useful. You should be ashamed of yourself.

        I’m not condoning what that other person is said to have done, either – and don’t ever try to suggest that I am. As a journalist, I’m opposed to plagiarism by definition. But you are allowing yourselves to be distracted by a sideshow. You have more important issues to which your efforts should be devoted.

  3. Peter Robinson

    Hi Mike,
    You say “Arguing about it can only distract from the issue”. What will distract from the issue is inflated egos exaggerating and/or lying. There is no need for this. The Grenfell victims’ and survivors’ case is best stated by the unvarnished truth.
    Those rightfully under attack for their contributions towards the tragedy will seize on anything other than the unvarnished truth to help mitigate their crimes.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You make my point for me. This Site was one of the first – if not the very first – to point out the political aspect of the Grenfell tragedy, at considerable risk due to a shaming campaign in the media at the time. I was right to do it and I don’t regret it. But it saddens me that the people for whom I was standing up at the time have descended to squabbling among themselves and picking arguments with me when they could be doing something useful. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      I’m not condoning what that other person is said to have done, either – and don’t ever try to suggest that I am. As a journalist, I’m opposed to plagiarism by definition. But you are allowing yourselves to be distracted by a sideshow. You have more important issues to which your efforts should be devoted.

Comments are closed.