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Grenfell Tower Inquiry: flat fire resident 'wrongly blamed'

NOT FORGOTTEN: Banners were unveiled on the outside of Grenfell Tower today

THE MAN who lived in the flat where the Grenfell Tower fire started has been wrongly blamed by the media, his legal representative has told the inquiry into the fire.

Behailu Kebede, who lived in the tower block for 25 years, discovered smoke in his kitchen in the early hours of June 14.

He called 999 and banged the doors of his neighbours on the fourth floor, telling them that there was a fire.

Speaking at the inquiry today, Rajiv Menon, who is representing Kebede, said: “It’s important to say that he is a significant witness and not a criminal suspect.”

Some media publications had implied that Kebede, who is originally from Ethiopia, was responsible for the blaze that killed 72 people.

“He did the right thing from the start to finish. He just wants to be able to rebuild his life as best he can. He loved his life in Grenfell prior to the refurbishment. It was his first home after moving here from Ethiopia,” Menon said.

Menon refuted claims from the media that Kebede packed a bag before leaving his flat.

“He left the flat barefoot, without his flat or car keys,” Menon said.

During his delivery, Menon also addressed the actions of Kensington and Chelsea borough council. His statements prompted loud applause from members of the public.

He said: “There’s no coincidence that this fire occurred in a building owned by a Tory authority that has been at the forefront of promoting austerity, cuts and deregulation as well as prioritising business over health and safety.”

Banners of remembrance
Ahead of the one year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, banners have been unfurled on the block in west London.

Most of the building has been covered in white sheeting but a section of the top area is still uncovered.

One banner features a green heart – what has become a symbol of Grenfell Tower fire remembrance, and another reads: "Grenfell forever in our hearts."

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