Police have announced there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect the council committed corporate manslaughter over the Grenfell Tower fire.
Police have written to survivors and families of those who died to say Kensington & Chelsea Borough Council and the tenant management organisation that ran the block on its behalf, “may have committed” the offence.
Eighty people are believed to have died in the blaze on June 14.
The Metropolitan Police said its conclusion was based an “initial assessment” of all the information it had gathered so far, including witness statements.
In a letter to people affected by the fire, the force said:
“After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter, under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.”
“In due course, a senior representative of each corporation will be formally interviewed by police in relation to the potential offence,” the letter added.
“This interview will not take place immediately, since it is important that all relevant facts and information have been gathered before any such interview is conducted.”
The letter also said: “The content of this note should not be taken to conclude that the identified offences and organisations are the only offences, organisations or individuals that are being investigated.”
Justice 4 Grenfell welcomed the news, saying: “Trust in the authorities across the entire community has been seriously undermined by events since the fire, to say nothing of everything that happened in the years before the disaster.
“This announcement will go someway towards the rebuilding of trust.”
Joe Delaney, of the Grenfell Action Group, told the Press Association: “I think everyone has more cautious scepticism than cautious optimism.
“It’s one thing to announce this investigation is going on - which is totally different from a prosecution being brought, which is completely different to a conviction being achieved.
“Also, one thing we have never seen in this country are individuals prosecuted under corporate manslaughter because it is always hard to find the controlling mind.
“I do hope that this case would prove to be the exception, rather than the rule.”
Council leader Elizabeth Campbell told Sky News that survivors “deserved answers” and pledged the council would support the police investigation “in every way we can.”
A Met spokesman said: “The Met started an investigation into the cause and spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June.
“Since then we have stated that it is a criminal investigation, considering the full range of offences from corporate manslaughter to regulatory breaches.
“This is a complex and far reaching investigation that by its very nature will take a considerable time to complete.
“The Met has made a commitment to the families who lost loved ones in the fire and survivors that they will be kept updated, as far as we possibly can, as the investigation continues.
“As is routine, we will not give a running commentary on this investigation.”