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Grenfell inquiry faces lengthy delay

14 December 2018

THE CHAIR of the Grenfell Tower inquiry has revealed that the next phase of the hearing may be delayed until 2020 due to the scale of the investigation.

The first phase of the inquiry concluded in January but the judge leading the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, warned that the next phase of hearings is unlikely to start earlier than the end of 2019 and more likely the following year. The next phase is expected to look at the circumstances and decisions leading up to the tragic fire and more than 200,000 documents will need to be examined before the hearings can continue. 

Sir Moore-Bick has said that the sheer volume of documents that need to be examined will cause the next phase of hearings to be delayed. In closing statements for phase one of the inquiry, Sir Moore-Bick said: "Phase 2 we can focus our attention on the critical circumstances and decisions which enabled such a devastating event to occur. I am pleased to confirm that work on Phase 2 has already been going on for several months.

"The inquiry expects to disclose 200,000 documents to the core participants and is about to start to do so. The work won't be complete until Autumn next year. There is a large number of documents which will need to be reviewed, redacted and digested. There is lots to do and its likely to identify new questions. The investigation must be thorough and work takes time.

"However, careful and detailed preparation which enables us to focus on the aspects of the programme that are of real significance should make it possible to ensure that the proceedings, once begun, can be completed within a reasonable time."

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has slammed the delay as being unacceptable. FPA managing director Jonathan O'Neill said: “The Fire Protection Association welcomes the thorough job being done by the Grenfell Inquiry, but we believe the latest timescale* is wholly unacceptable for the Grenfell residents, who need closure as soon as possible. We recommend additional resources are found, as a matter of urgency."