THE INQUIRY into the fire at Grenfell Tower has been suspended in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The inquiry’s Chairman, Martin Moore-Bick, issued a statement saying that continuing would expose those in attendance, including witnesses, to an infection risk.
The statement read: “In the light of the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon the Panel has decided that the Inquiry should hold no further hearings for the time being. To do so, even on the basis of limited attendance, would be to expose those whose presence is essential for that purpose, not to mention those whom we wish to call as witnesses, to an unacceptable risk of infection.
“It would also send the wrong signal to the world at large at a time when everyone is being urged to cooperate with measures designed to minimise the effect of the virus.
“We very much regret that it has been necessary to take this step and we shall be giving careful consideration to whether it is possible to resume hearings using electronic means, but even if that is not possible the work of the Inquiry will continue. We shall keep you informed of developments as they occur and I hope that it will not be long before we can continue taking evidence.”
On Monday the inquiry heard from a former employee of the Grenfell project’s fire engineering company, Exova.
Cate Cooney worked on the project while in post as a senior consultant specialising in fire safety, before leaving in April 2019.
Cooney gave evidence on the building’s fire safety strategy, which included “a remain-in-place strategy for the residential [sic] would have been simultaneous for the rest of the building.”
Cooney also gave evidence on previous fires with cladding, including one at Lakanal House in Camberwell in 2009, which resulted in six deaths.
She continued: “There were two major causes of the fire: that’ s the external walls, spread
over the external walls of the building , and there were compartmentation defects because of the scissor stairs.
“Takeaway was to ensure that the building materials were appropriate for the building, and that any defects, repairs, et cetera were, well, shouldn’t happen in the first place.”