Retired judge to lead Grenfell Tower fire inquiry

Theresa May insists residents will be given say over direction of blaze investigation

A woman looks at flowers, tributes and messages left for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

A woman looks at flowers, tributes and messages left for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

 

The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster will be led by retired UK court of appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, sources have confirmed.

Sir Martin, who specialised in commercial law in a legal career spanning nearly 50 years, will look into the blaze which killed at least 80 people in west London earlier this month.

British prime minister Theresa May has insisted residents will be given a say over the direction of the investigation with Sir Martin’s appointment is expected to be officially announced on Thursday morning.

She said a full judge-led inquiry was needed to ensure the events at the 24-storey block were “properly investigated”.

In the wake of the disaster, cladding at tower blocks across the country has undergone fire safety tests with 120 found to be combustible.

The National Housing Federation has called on the British government to stop the testing and instead focus on making people safe.

Chief executive David Orr said: “These tests were the right thing to do, but the results are now conclusive: Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding simply does not pass these tests and is deemed unsafe.

“Across the country, valuable resources — from specialist equipment to expert time — are being poured into a testing process of which the results are already known.”

Mr Orr spoke of the testing process revealing a “systematic failure” around the development, manufacture and regulation of cladding.

Meanwhile, a funeral will take place for one of the victims of the inferno this lunchtime in west London.

Fulham fan Tony Disson (65), was described as a “real family man” and “one in a million Dad” by his relatives.

The Metropolitan Police says it will be months before the final roll call of victims is established.

Det Supt Fiona McCormack said contact had been made with at least one occupant from 106 of the 129 flats in the building.

From those properties, 18 people are dead or assumed dead, meaning the remaining victims are thought to have been in the flats wiped out by the inferno.

She said: “There are 23 flats that, despite huge investigative efforts, we have been unable to trace anyone that lives there.

“At this stage we must presume that no-one in those flats survived, that includes anyone who lived there or was visiting them.”

Pressed on whether the death toll could climb to triple figures, Ms McCormack said: “I’ve said I believe it could increase, I don’t think it’s going to be triple, no.”

As the vast criminal investigation into the fire continues, 60 organisations have been identified as having a hand in the tower’s refurbishment, which is suspected to have helped the blaze spread.

PA