Frequently asked questions

1. Background
2. Type of Inquiry
3. Timeline

4. Core participants
5. Witnesses
6. Funding for those affected by the fire
7. Inquiry report
8. Sir Martin Moore-Bick

1. Background

When was the Inquiry set up?

The Prime Minister announced on 15 June 2017 that there would be a public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower which had started the day before. The formal set-up date for the purposes of section 5 of the Inquiries Act 2005 was 15 August 2017.

What will the Inquiry achieve?

On 15 August 2017 the Prime Minister set the terms of reference for the Inquiry.

At the formal opening of the Inquiry on 14 September 2017, Sir Martin set out a list of issues to be investigated.

Who was consulted on the terms of reference?

Sir Martin carried out a full public consultation on the terms of reference for the Inquiry. More than 550 responses were received.

Read Sir Martin’s letter to the Prime Minister on GOV.UK [PDF, 7 pages – 518kb]

2. Type of Inquiry

What is the format of the inquiry?

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been established under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Other inquiries established under the 2005 Act include the Litvinenko and Baha Mousa Public Inquiries in England, the E Coli Inquiry in Wales and the ICL Inquiry held jointly between Scotland and England.

Such inquiries are essentially inquisitorial in nature and, subject to the legislative provisions, their procedure and conduct are matters for the Chairman to decide. As such, no two inquiries are the same. The Inquiry is charged with carrying out an investigation within its terms of reference.

What powers does the Inquiry have?

Under the Inquiries Act 2005 the Chairman has a wide range of powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.

Will records of hearings be available for the public?

On each day of hearings, the transcript and evidence considered will be published on the Inquiry’s website unless any contrary order or restriction notice made under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 is in place. Directions, submissions and rulings will also be made available as appropriate.

How much will the Inquiry cost and who is paying?

The inquiry is funded through the Cabinet Office. The inquiry will publish details of its expenditure on a regular basis on the website.

3. Timeline and hearings

What happens next?

Now the Terms of Reference have been set, the Inquiry is:

  • Considering the applications for core participant status;
  • Starting the major task of gathering evidence;
  • Continuing to engage with the local community; and
  • Planning the programming of the progress of the Inquiry.

When will the first hearings take place?

The formal opening of the Inquiry took place on 14 September 2017. Transcripts of proceedings are published on the Inquiry website. Further hearings will be announced on the website when they are set.

When will the first evidence hearings take place?

It is too early to say when the first evidence will be heard. More information will be published on the website when it’s available.

Where will the hearings be held?

The Inquiry hearings will be held at Holborn Bars, 138-142 Holborn, London EC1N 2NQ. The venue has been selected because of its central location, good transport links to the Latimer Road area and suitable disability provisions. It is large and well-provisioned enough for the operation of the Inquiry and the accommodation of a reasonable number of those wishing to attend the hearings. In addition to the hearing venue, the Inquiry will ensure its proceedings are widely accessible by streaming them online and providing a venue within the Borough where residents and survivors can come together to watch proceedings.

Will the hearings be televised?

Yes. Each hearing will be live-streamed and available to watch from this website both during and after the hearing.

4. Core participants

What does it mean to have core participant status?

Under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 core participants can include individuals, organisations or entities with a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the Inquiry relates. A core participant will not necessarily be a core participant for the whole duration of the Inquiry.

Those designated as core participants may participate in the Inquiry in a number of ways:

  • Receiving in advance of hearings disclosure of evidence which the Chairman considers relevant to that core participant;
  • Making an opening and closing statement at certain hearings;
  • Suggesting lines of questioning to be pursued by Counsel to the Inquiry; and
  • Their recognised legal representative may apply to the Chairman to ask questions of a witness.

How do I apply for core participant status?

Applications were requested by Friday 8 September 2017. If you still wish to apply then please contact: solicitor@grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk

Who will automatically qualify for core participant status?

The Chairman is willing to grant core participant status to:

  • The survivors of the fire at Grenfell Tower;
  • All individuals who were residents of Grenfell Tower at the time of the fire; and
  • The families of those that died or those who were injured and as a result are unable to participate in the Inquiry.

What about those who do not automatically qualify?

The Inquiry Chairman will consider applications for core participant status assessed against the criteria below:

  • Played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to the matters to which the Inquiry relates;
  • Has a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the Inquiry relates; or
  • May be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the Inquiry proceedings or in the report, or in any interim report.

What happens when an individual or organisation is designated as a core participant?

The Inquiry will write to applicants or their legal representative confirming if they have been designated as a core participant. The Inquiry will liaise with CPs through legal representatives, or direct where representation is not in place, with details of how they can participate.

What happens when an individual or organisation is not designated as a core participant – are they still able to participate in the Inquiry?

Not being awarded core participant status does not preclude an individual or organisation from participating in the Inquiry as a witness or attending hearings in person as a member of the public.

Do core participants need to be legally represented?

Anyone designated as a core participant is entitled to appoint a legal representative if they wish. Whether the Inquiry will fund legal costs and, if so, to what extent, is a separate issue (see FAQ on funding for those affected by the fire).

5. Witnesses

Who are witnesses?

A witness is someone who has evidence relating to the matters being investigated by the Inquiry, as set out in the Terms of Reference. This could be as a witness to an event or through the records they hold, such as videos, photographs or documentation. Witnesses may be called to give evidence in the form of a written or oral statement and may also be asked to appear at an Inquiry hearing.

An individual or organisation can be both a core participant and a witness – the two roles are not mutually exclusive.

How do I become a witness?

The Inquiry team will identify and call witnesses, who will be contacted in due course.

I have evidence which I think is relevant to the Inquiry – what should I do?

The Inquiry encourages anyone who holds relevant information or documents to provide them to the Inquiry. Information should be provided in the form of a written statement. Further information about the provision of documents can be found in the protocol for the receipt and handling of documents.

6. Funding for those affected by the fire

Who is eligible for legal representation at public expense?

On 16 June the Prime Minister announced that victims and their families will receive state funding for legal representation at the Inquiry.

The Prime Minister’s Letter of Determination, released on 22 August, has clarified this, stating that any party falling into the following three categories will automatically be granted funding upon their involvement in the Inquiry, whether as a core participant or witness.

(a) The families of the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy;
(b) The survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and their families;
(c) Local residents affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

NB: involvement as a core participant or witness will ultimately be a decision for the Chair.

Funding at public expense may also be available to other core participants or witnesses. In these cases, the Chairman will take into account the circumstances of the applicant and awards will generally not be made to those who otherwise would have the means to access representation, e.g. through membership of a professional body.

The Legal Funding Protocol provides more information on eligibility for legal representation at public expense.

7. Inquiry report

When will the Inquiry report be published?

At the opening of the Inquiry, the Chairman outlined the two Phases of the Inquiry. 

Due to the urgent public safety issues to be examined by the Inquiry and the Chairman’s obligation to produce an interim report as quickly as possible, Phase 1 will focus on the factual narrative of the events of the night of 14 June 2017. This Phase will not examine the reasons why things happened as they did or what should have happened, nor will it assess any arrangements, decisions, regulations or policies. Phase 1 is a purely fact-finding phase.

This means that the focus of Phase 1 will be the events of the night of 14 June 2017 and, in particular:

  • The existing fire safety and prevention measures at Grenfell Tower;
  • where and how the fire started;
  • the development of the fire and smoke;
  • how the fire and smoke spread from its original seat to other parts of the building;
  • the chain of events before the decision was made that there was no further savable life in the building; and
  • the evacuation of residents.

Phase 1 will also examine what the emergency services did by way of response, and when. The question of why they did what they did, and the adequacy of the emergency services’ response, including the appropriateness of the “stay put” policy, and the lessons to be learned, will be considered in Phase 2.

Phase 2 will address the remainder of the issues identified in the List of Issues which was published on the Inquiry’s website on 14 September 2017.

8. Sir Martin Moore-Bick

Why was Sir Martin Moore-Bick appointed to lead the inquiry?

The Prime Minister announced the appointment of Sir Martin Moore-Bick to head the Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire on 29 June 2017.

The Lord Chancellor had asked the Lord Chief Justice for the name of a judge who, in his view, would be best suited to the task and available to start work immediately. The Lord Chief Justice recommended Sir Martin Moore-Bick, a former Court of Appeal judge, and the Prime Minister accepted the Lord Chief Justice’s recommendation.

What is the Chairman’s role?

The Chairman is responsible for discharging the inquiry’s terms of reference and he decides its procedures, subject to a statutory duty to act fairly. The Chairman supervises the running of the inquiry and will write the report at its conclusion, making findings of fact and recommendations for the future.

The Chairman cannot make any findings of civil or criminal liability, nor can he award any compensation.

To whom is the Chairman accountable?

As Chairman of the Inquiry Sir Martin acts in an independent capacity.

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