The Inquiry has published the transcript of the Chair's closing remarks for the end of Phase 2 hearings.
"The completion of Module 8 brings us to the end of the Inquiry’s hearings, apart from overarching closing statements that will be heard during the week 7th November. As the hearings come to an end, we enter the next stage of our work and it may appear to some that the Inquiry is no longer active. But I want to reassure you that is not the case. The task facing the Panel is one of considerable proportions. The Inquiry has disclosed to Core Participants over 300,000 documents, all of which are considered to be of relevance in one way or another to the matters under investigation. It has obtained over 1500 witness statements and has sat for more than 300 days, most of which have been devoted to taking evidence from a wide range of factual and expert witnesses.
The Panel’s task, with the assistance of the Inquiry team and its assessors, is to digest all that material, and identify the causes of the Grenfell Tower fire and the responsibilities of those involved. Anyone who’s followed the Inquiry’s proceedings will understand that is not a simple task. Although it’s possible to identify some decisions relating to the refurbishment that had an immediate effect, the wider causes of the fire had their roots in the culture of the construction industry and the regulatory regime which applies to building work, amongst other things. Many decisions, taken by many different people, over the course of many years conspired to create a building which in June 2017 was vulnerable to a catastrophic fire resulting from the failure of a common type of domestic appliance.
In the course of the hearings it has become apparent that many mistakes were made, and many witnesses have acknowledged that they or the organisations they represented failed in one way or another to meet the standards to be expected of them. However, in order properly to identify and evaluate the underlying causes of the fire, the Panel will have to consider the evidence in detail to determine the extent to which such failures contributed to the disaster. When seeking to identify the causes of a major tragedy in which so many people died, it is important that criticism should be directed at those who truly bear substantial responsibility for what occurred. I cannot say therefore at this stage how long it will take us to produce our report. We are of course acutely aware that all those who have an immediate interest in the outcome of the Inquiry, and I think particularly of the bereaved, survivors and local residents who need us to complete our work as quickly as possible. We ourselves are anxious to do that, but we also know that if our report is to carry weight, and if the recommendations it contains are to have real force, it must be comprehensive, well-reasoned and persuasive.
It is not possible to produce a report that meets all those requirements overnight. We shall work as hard as we can but the task may take us a little while. We understand that those most seriously affected by the fire will find waiting for our report difficult but we ask everyone to bear with us while we carry out our work. As you know, the Inquiry team has shouldered an enormous task in preparing for and organising the hearings and I should like to thank them all for their hard work and commitment. They will now help us to marshall all the evidence for the purposes of writing our report and have already made significant progress towards that end. We cannot reach any final conclusions until we’ve heard the overarching closing statements, but that will not prevent us from starting work immediately after the summer break. We have already had preliminary discussions about the shape of the report and will be pursuing our review of the evidence without delay.
At this point, I should like to express my profound gratitude to all those who worked tirelessly to support the hearings and ensure they could be conducted as effectively as possible. I have in mind not only our counsel, solicitors, secretariat and support staff, but also those who provide the filming and livestream service, the rolling transcript and electronic document management system. And of course, I should not omit our team of ushers who have done so much to ensure that the hearings ran smoothly.
Above all, however, before we conclude this session, I should like on behalf of the Panel to pay our own respects to the bereaved, survivors and residents of North Kensington, some of whom have attended the hearings regularly and many of whom have been here in the last three weeks to observe and by their presence to contribute to the presentations we have heard. We have been greatly impressed by their dignity in the face of the evidence, much of which has been of a distressing nature, and by their fortitude in response to an appalling tragedy.”
The recording of the Chair's closing remarks can be found on the Inquiry's YouTube channel here.