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Council At Centre Of Grenfell Tragedy ‘Revealed More Than 1.5m Papers To Police’

The council at the centre of the Grenfell Tower fire has disclosed more than 1.5 million documents to detectives as part of the criminal investigation, an inquiry was told.

The public inquiry into the fire, which killed 71 people, was told that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was committed to its duty to be “open, transparent and fully cooperative” and not attempt to “defend the indefensible”.

James Maxwell Scott QC, representing the council, told inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick the local authority was asked to retain all its data on its servers by the Metropolitan Police on June 20.

(PA Graphics)

He said that, on receipt of this letter, RBKC ensured that all its stored data was “duplicated to create a stable copy, meaning the data could not be changed or modified”.

“The amount of data preserved in this manner was about 80 terabytes in total,” said Mr Scott.

A company called DWF, through its forensic services providers, began adding documents to an online review platform on July 3.

By November 8, 1,516,427 documents had been uploaded, he said.

He said none of these documents had been “redacted, altered or tampered with in any way since being received by DWF and their forensic services providers”, adding: “I can state that all of those 1.5 million documents have been disclosed to the police.”

He told the inquiry 12,918 files were disclosed to the inquiry team by the same date, adding that the council understood it had an “ongoing duty” to continue providing key files.

Tuesday sees the second of two procedural hearings in the judge-led probe into the disaster, held at Holborn Bar in central London.

Monday saw representations from lawyers speaking on behalf of survivors, the bereaved and residents, some of whom are calling for Sir Martin to appoint a panel so the inquiry is more representative of the community.

Mr Scott said there was no objection from the council on the suggestion that a consultative panel be set up to assist Sir Martin. “It seems a sensible suggestion,” he added.

Michael Mansfield QC, who is representing 24 families, spoke briefly, saying he wanted to ensure there was “no confusion that a consultative panel is no substitute for a decision-making panel, of which we are advocates”.

On Monday he urged Sir Martin to ask Prime Minister Theresa May to install a panel of decision-makers from a diverse background to sit alongside him.

Responding to his submission, counsel to the inquiry Richard Millet said the team intended to involve people affected by the tragedy as much as they can, while also pursuing a “ruthlessly independent and effective investigation”.

He said: “However, the question of the composition of the panel does give rise to rather different considerations.

“We would suggest… that it is properly a matter for the Prime Minister, as the sponsoring minister, to decide under the act whether she wishes to appoint other members to sit as decision-makers with you on the panel.

“We would suggest, respectfully, that it would be wrong for you to express any view either way before she has made that decision, since that might be seen to be influencing her decision on that matter.”

He warned Sir Martin that he must approach the matter with an “entirely open mind” if Ms May did ask him for his view.