The daughter of a disabled woman who lived on the 18th floor of Grenfell Tower has accused Kensington and Chelsea council of “discrimination and failure in duty of care” for placing her so high up in the residential block.
Nazanin Aghlani told the Grenfell inquiry on Wednesday that the council’s rehousing team were partly to blame for the death of her mother, Sakineh Afrasehabi, on June 14.
Aghlani said her mother’s “human right to escape” was impeded, with the council’s own housing department recognising in 2003 that she should not be living in a property higher than the fourth floor.
Aghlani told the commemoration hearings: “As early as 2003, the RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council) housing department formally recognised and stated that due to my mum’s disability and deteriorating health she should not be housed in a lifted property above the fourth floor.”
Aghlani said her mother was partially sighted, and could only move around with the aid of a walker.
“I emphasise that was in 2003 ... After being refused many suitable properties, after 16 years of waiting, she was rehoused in 2016 into flat 151 on the 18th floor of Grenfell Tower,” she said.
“The move to Grenfell was out of desperation and pressure from the council. She was to take Grenfell Tower or to be suspended from the allocations for one year.
“She was very upset by the new place, she hated it at first.”
Aghlani said that her mother constantly feared living so high in her condition, adding it “was always at the back of her mind”.
The bereaved daughter told the hearing: “With the fire at Grenfell, something in all of us died that night.
“Every day, again and again, as our mind tries to make sense of this disastrous tragedy, we come to the conclusion that it was not only the horrifying fire that took my mum’s life that night.
“The discrimination and failure in duty of care by the housing allocations team which resulted in a vulnerable, physically disabled and partially sighted pensioner being housed on the 18th floor of a tower block equally took the life of my mum.”
In a report published on Wednesday, Kensington and Chelsea council was criticised for its “weak” leadership in the aftermath of the blaze, which killed 72 people, which led to the local community stepping in to “fill the void” after the fire.
In an emotional tribute to the inquiry on Tuesday, Paulo Tekle blamed firefighters for the death of his five-year-old son, Isaac Paulos.
Tekle said his son would still be alive today if the family had not followed the advice from the fire service, which told residents to stay in their flats at the time of the fire.
Today is the final day of commemoration hearings before the start of the evidential hearings next week.