This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire where 72 people lost their lives in the worst domestic fire in living memory. The Tower was bathed in green light to commemorate the anniversary on 14 June with many events taking place across the country to honour those who died in the fire. At 11am, politicians and dignitaries gathered at Westminster Abbey at a multi-faith ceremony where the names of the victims were read out loud and the bell tolled 72 times.
Emergency services across the country marked the anniversary. The London Fire Commissioner, Andy Roe, released a statement where he said he found the strength and dignity that the Grenfell community has shown in the face of such terrible loss to be humbling and inspiring. He added, “I give my commitment that we will continue to listen and make changes to our service and work to drive improvements in the built environment to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.”
As firefighters across the country gathered to mark the anniversary, with many attending the silent walk taking place in North Kensington in the evening of the anniversary, Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union commented,
“Firefighters and the Grenfell community have a bond that was forged in tragedy, and the Fire Brigades Union stands in solidarity with all bereaved, survivors and residents. Today on the fifth anniversary of the fire, it is a time for reflection, and to remember all those who lost their lives, and the loved ones they left behind. Their legacy lives on in the fight for justice.”
He continued, “The community have faced constant denials from those responsible for Grenfell being covered in cladding as flammable as petrol. They have faced a wait for criminal charges that continues to this day. They inspire us all with their relentless fight for justice and we continue to stand in solidarity with them every step of the way.”
Mark Hardingham, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council said,
“Today I will be taking time to reflect on the tragedy and remember the 72 people who lost their lives, those who were injured, along with the community who continue to be impacted by the terrible events that evening. The inquiry is ongoing, and we continue to hear evidence which has been distressing for everyone involved. I hope that the findings will bring much-needed answers for families and friends.”
Grenfell Tower Inquiry
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues but paused for the anniversary. Sir Martin Moore-Bick is the Inquiry Chair, he said, “The fifth anniversary of the fire on 14 June provides an occasion to mourn with renewed intensity the tragedy in which so many people suffered a terrifying ordeal as well as losing not only their homes and possessions but, in many cases, their dearest relatives and friends. The Panel, together with the whole of the Inquiry team, remains acutely conscious of the effect of the disaster on those who were directly involved and on the wider community in North Kensington.
“We continue to offer them our deepest sympathy and we repeat our determination to ensure that the Inquiry uncovers the full story behind the causes of the tragedy and provides answers to the many questions that continue to trouble them.”
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement the day before the 5th anniversary. Deputy Assistant Chief Commissioner Stuart Grundy said that the Met remains focused on the criminal investigation, “Which is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever undertaken,” with more than 180 investigators dedicated to the effort.
He added, “I recognise the frustrations of some about the significant length of this complex criminal investigation. We are in an unusual situation where our police investigation and the public inquiry are being conducted at the same time. The criminal investigation is independent of inquiry but, as we have said previously, the criminal investigation must take into account any findings or reports produced by the inquiry. Once we have fully examined the findings of the Phase 2 report we will present our evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service so they can consider charging decisions.”