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Grenfell: Theresa May hints at changes to Inquiry

ONGOING CAMPAIGN: Londoners have joined former Grenfell Tower residents and the bereaved in the quest for justice (image credit: Rex Features)

FOLLOWING LEGAL pre-action correspondence, the Prime Minister has confirmed that she will consider the appointment of panel members to sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick on the Grenfell Inquiry and when doing so, she will have regard to her obligations under the Equality Act 2010.1

Shafika Ragab, who lost her nephew in the fire, had sought to challenge the Prime Minister on the grounds that she had failed to exercise her powers to appoint further panel members and had not had regard to her Public Sector Equality Duty which required her to consider eliminating discrimination and fostering good relations between people of different races and religions. The majority of those affected by the Grenfell fire are of black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The Inquiry has been beset by controversy about the narrowness of terms of reference and insufficient community involvement. Many family members and survivors have already expressed a lack of faith in the Inquiry currently chaired solely by Moore-Bick and have called for additional members to be appointed to the panel.

Ragab’s lawyers raised her concerns that the Prime Minister had failed to have due regard to her Equality Duty when deciding not to appoint additional panel members to the Grenfell Inquiry.

DUTY

However, following further correspondence, Theresa May has now confirmed that she will consider the appointment of additional panel members, and intends to do so after Moore-Bick has confirmed any assessors he requires to assist him on the technical aspects of the inquiry. The Prime Minister has specifically confirmed that she will have due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty when considering this matter.

Mr. Mussilhy, Ragab’s grandson, said:

“My grandmother, my family and others members of the community feel we have not been listened to. We were not listened to before the fire and without appointing additional panel members it seems we are still not being listened to.

"We are therefore glad the Prime Minister will consider the appointment of additional panel members taking into account her equality duties. We call on her to appoint members representative of the community so that we can have confidence that the inquiry will do its job and get to the truth.”

Clare Jennings of Matthew Gold & Co; solicitor for Ragab said:

“Our client is not alone in feeling let down and left out of the Inquiry so far. She has already faced an unimaginable loss. However we are glad that the Prime Minister has now positively confirmed that she intends to consider whether to appoint additional panel members after Sir Martin has decided on the appointment of technical assessors, and that she will ensure that that she has regard to her equality duties when she does so.

"It is obviously important that the final make-up of the inquiry panel is finalised as close to the start of the Inquiry as possible. To that end we have written to Sir Martin today to ask that he urgently confirms the list of technical assessors he will be appointing, in order that the Prime Minister can get on with the fundamental job of considering the appointment of a balanced Inquiry panel”.

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