UK

Grenfell Inquiry 'Not Diverse Enough', BMELawyers4Grenfell Say As Group Launches Legal Challenge

'The inquiry team.. are all white.'

12/09/2017 15:22 BST

Lawyers representing victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster have handed the inquiry team a list of 25 experts from the BME community as potential panel members following concerns over a lack of diversity.

BMELawyers4Grenfell say the Prime Minister has failed to ensure that the panel reflects the diverse community in north Kensington, which was devastated by the fire nearly three months ago.

The legal experts are seeking an urgent review of the lack of diversity on the inquiry panel - just two days before the first hearing is held.

PA Wire/PA Images
There is an alleged lack of diversity on the Grenfell Inquiry team.

The lawyers are urging Theresa May to confirm whether she will appoint other members to the inquiry panel to “guarantee it has the right level of ethnic diversity and expertise” in the areas that contributed to the fire.

Peter Herbert, co-founder of BMELawyers4Grenfell, told HuffPost UK: “The inquiry team that were appointed very, very quickly are all white.

“We saw a shambolic attempted at community consultation, which was exacerbated by the fact that the individuals on the team didn’t appear to have any knowledge, understanding or empathy with the survivors or local community.”

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the judge leading the inquiry, has faced scathing criticism from residents over claims that he and his team “don’t represent the community”.

His presence on the panel was slammed as an “affront to the community” because of his past rulings on social housing cases.

Describing Moore-Bick as an “old, white, male judge”, Herbert said: “He simply does not have the confidence of the community to address these issues, nor the expertise to address issues of diversity and why the community were not listened to by TMO and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.” 

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Peter Herbert, co-founder of BMELawyers4Grenfell, said the inquiry team are 'all white'.

There is an issue of “credibility and confidence” in the inquiry team and the lack of diversity is a “fundamental problem”, Herbert added.

The final panel members who will be assisting Moore-Bick have yet to be selected. 

BMELawyers4Grenfell say they have given the inquiry a list 25 experts from the BME community as suggestions for the panel, ranging from mental health experts to fire safety experts.

“We do exist and we are out there,” Herbert said.

BMELawyers4Grenfell filed an urgent application for Judicial Review of the Grenfell Fire Inquiry on Monday.

Lawyers said they were concerned the inquiry might be run in a “shambolic fashion”, as exhibited in by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Ismet Rawat, co-founder of BMELawyers4Grenfell and President of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, added: “The Government’s response so far to a human tragedy of such magnitude on UK soil has been inept to say the least, and has inevitably added to the trauma and distress of individuals and the wider community”.

A government spokesperson said: “The chairman of the inquiry has always been clear that he is considering appointing a diverse group of people to assist him whose experience extends to the occupation and management of social housing as well as other areas of expertise.

“The PM is also keeping under review the need for additional panel members. We therefore believe this action to be unwarranted.”