Looting at Grenfell flats adds to despair

COMPASSION: Mayor of London, Sadiq
Khan greets survivors and relatives of those
who died; and (below) Grenfell Tower
COMPASSION: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan greets survivors and relatives of those who died; and (below) Grenfell Tower


THE criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower tragedy could re­sult in manslaughter charges al­though prosecution could be months away due to the complex forensic work needing to take place, police have claimed.

The 24-storey social housing block in west London was destroyed on June 14 by a fire that started on a lower floor but engulfed the whole building.

So far, police have formally identi­fied around 60 of the victims. Com­mander Stuart Cundy, who has over­all control of police operations at Grenfell Tower, said on Tuesday (19) it was likely the final death toll would be a little below 80.

Detective chief inspector Matt Bon­ner, in charge of the criminal side of the police investigation, said a foren­sic examination of the tower would continue into 2018 and would be fol­lowed by lengthy laboratory analysis.

“I will seek to identify and deal with whatever offences come to light during that investigation,” he said.

“The kind of stuff that I would en­visage we may come across would involve offences perhaps of fraud, misconduct offences, health and safety breaches, breaches of fire safe­ty regulations and of course, offences of manslaughter whether that be on a corporate or an individual level,” he added.

The building, which was primarily home to a low-income, multi-ethnic community, was owned by the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and managed by an administration that ran social housing on the bor­ough’s behalf.

Bonner said police had identified 336 companies or organisations that were involved in the refurbishment, construction and management of the tower and officers had recovered ap­proximately 31 million documents.

It has since come to light that police are now also investigating allegations of thefts from some of the less dam­aged apartments in the building. There has been one confirmed theft of money from one of the flats and three further allegations of theft, they said.

The thefts were initially discovered when former residents had been let into their apartments to pick up any possessions.

Detective chief superintendant McCormack said: “I can’t tell you how personally devastating these reports of thefts are, for the victims, for me and everyone involved in the investi­gation who is working so hard. We have one confirmed theft and are looking at three more allegations and we will thoroughly investigate. We do not yet know how this has happened.

“We have 24 hour security at Gren­fell Tower but this has been reviewed and some changes immediately put into place.”

On Monday (18), officers from the investigation team and the coroner met families of those who died or are missing in private to update them.

Detective Chief Superintendent Fiona McCormack said: “The investi­gation into what happened at Gren­fell Tower is a priority for the Met and we are determined to find the an­swers that so many desperately seek. The distress and suffering caused to so many families and loved ones that night is harrowing. That night people lost their homes, all their pos­sessions and tragically their families and loved ones.

The latest victim formally identi­fied as Eastern Eye went to press is eight-year-old Mehdi El-Wahabi who has been described as a “calm and friendly young boy who loved his family very much.”

Residents had complained for years about fire safety in the tower and have voiced anger at delays in assistance following the blaze as well as scepti­cism about whether an inquiry, which began last Thursday (14), could help.

Reportedly six hundred people have been receiving counselling since the blaze, including 100 chil­dren and many firefighters who re­sponded to the tragedy.