POLITICS

Blame Theresa May Not The Judge Over 'Narrow' Grenfell Inquiry, Says Labour MP

Shadow Justice Secretary tells HuffPost UK judge is doing 'important, independent job'.

20/07/2017 17:54 | Updated 21 July 2017

Theresa May should be blamed if the focus of the Grenfell Tower public inquiry is too narrow, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary has said.

Richard Burgon told HuffPost UK he was “disturbed” to see judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick in the firing line as anger grew over what issues the probe will cover. 

Burgon called for people to direct their ire at May, because, despite Moore-Bick leading the inquiry, only she has the power to broaden its terms. 

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Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon.

The former solicitor also refused to back Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who said that those who died in the blaze were the victims of “social murder”. 

He told HuffPost UK: “People need to know that it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to sign off the terms of reference for the public inquiry.

“If the PM doesn’t think the terms of reference are wide enough then she has the power to widen them.

“One of the things that has disturbed me is people missing out the Government’s responsibility in this.” 

Leon Neal via Getty Images
Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

The Prime Minister is consulting over the terms of the inquiry until July 28 and an interim report on the causes of the blaze is due after the summer. 

Burgon added: “I understand why people are suspicious of authority. I understand why people who have been let down by a local authority run by the Conservatives and a national government run by the Conservatives.

“I understand why, when a judge comes along that they have never heard of they are automatically suspicious because they have been let down.

“But what we can’t allow to happen is for people to use the judge as a proxy for the Government.

PA Wire/PA Images
People protest ahead of a meeting of Kensington and Chelsea Council at Kensington Town Hall 

“The judge has got an independent job to do but ultimately the Government’s nominated minister, in this case the Prime Minister, is responsible for signing off the terms of the inquiry.”

Burgon said McDonnell had not been criticised for his comments by anyone on the ground. 

“I think there are few people out there who are condemning him for what he said because people are angry,” he said. “There are people in Parliament condemning him for what he said.

“The people we should be angry at are the people who have allowed a situation to develop where in a country like the UK, people are dying needlessly in a tower block. 

“I don’t think any resident will be condemning him for the language he has used. Who they will be condemning is the local council and the national government for their actions before the tragedy but also for their lack of response afterward.”

At least 80 people were killed in the inferno at Grenfell Tower but a precise death toll is not expected until 2018. 

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