NEWS

Grenfell Tower Fire: Theresa May Promises 'Proper Investigation'

Ministers criticised for ignoring safety warnings.

14/06/2017 19:42 | Updated 14 June 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May said there will be a “proper investigation” following the Grenfell Tower fire, adding: “If there are any lessons to be learned they will be, and action will be taken.”

It follows policing and fire minister Nick Hurd announcing checks are to be carried out on tower blocks going through similar refurbishment to Grenfell Tower.

With the Government facing huge criticism over failing to update fire regulations, the May moved to provide reassurance in the wake of the blaze at the west London tower block.

Twelve 12 people are so far confirmed to have died with the death toll expected to rise.

Locals claim new cladding installed on the 24-storey “death trap” property just a few months ago could be behind the speed at which the fire ripped through the building.

A lack of fire alarms, sprinklers and exit points also contributed to the fatalities, distraught residents told HuffPost UK on Wednesday. The blaze broke out in the 1974-built, home to hundreds of people, shortly after 1am. 

Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said:

“There are people tonight who have no home to go to, they have lost absolutely everything, so our focus must be on support to them.

“In due course, when the scene is secure, when it’s possible to identify the cause of this fire, then of course there will be proper investigation and if there are any lessons to be learnt they will be, and action will be taken.”

Hurd said: 

“We have discussed with the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities and the fire service a process whereby we seek to identify towers that might have a similar process of refurbishment, run a system of checks so that we can, as quickly as possible, give reassurance to people.”

In the wake of the tragedy there have been claims the Government ignored warnings that building regulations were in urgent need of updating.

Critics has seized on former Housing Minster Gavin Barwell – who was given a top Downing Street job within days of losing his seat last week – refusing to give a date for when the review of regulations would take place just eight months ago.

The review was called for after an inquest into a tower block fire in Camberwell, south-east London, which killed six people and injured 20 in 2009, ruled the regulations covering such buildings were not up to scratch.

Another coroner ruled in 2013 that all high-rise buildings should be retro-fitted with sprinklers - but Barwell’s predecessor as Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said it was not the “responsibility” of the Government to pass such a law. 

London mayor Sadiq Khan said earlier in the day that he would be “demanding answers” following the fatal incident, adding that lessons must be learned. He said:

“It’s very distressing, not just for those of us watching as lay people, but also very distressing for the emergency services. I will be demanding answers and I can assure you I will be ensuring there is independence in relation to it,” he said.

“The reassurance we need is to make sure lessons are learned and also if – and this is a big if – if there are mistakes made, we want to make sure we learn from them.”

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