DOREEN LAWRENCE says she is “reassured” that race was not a factor in the Fire Brigades response to rescuing victims of the Grenfell Tower blaze and has apologised for saying it was.
Lady Lawrence met with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the London Fire Brigade (LFB) after an invitation from FBU general secretary Matt Wrack following her comments about their conduct.
Following the meeting, Lawrence retracted her claims and said she was sorry for “any upset caused”.
She tweeted: “I’ve met [the London Fire Brigade] and [the Fire Brigades Union]. I am reassured race played no part in their response to the Grenfell Tower fire. Learning about the conditions firefighters faced that night has been insightful, apologies for any upset caused. I’m confident how valued equality is to LFB and FBU.”
Lawrence faced calls to apologise for comments she made during an interview with Channel 4 News, which aired almost two weeks ago, in which she said that the firefighters’ response would have been different if the majority of the victims were white.
She said: “Had that been a block full of white people in there, they would have done everything to get them out as fast as possible and make sure that they do what they needed to do.
“Nobody wanted to mention the word ‘race’ in the whole thing. [Because] when I saw the residents who lived in that block, to me it was under no doubt around the racism that existed at that time.”
Responding to the comments at the time, Wrack said: “Any suggestion that firefighters were motivated by racism is untrue and unjust. Firefighters put their own lives at risk throughout the fire – to save the lives of others.”
Lawrence’s apology comes as the first phase report of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire is released.
In the report, which has been made public today, inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick describes the LFB’s preparation and planning for a fire such as the one at Grenfell Tower is described by inquiry as “gravely inadequate”.