The Inquiry has written to Core Participants with an update on its work.
This update provides information about:
- Phase 1 report publication
- Interim recommendations
- Evidence relating to the deceased
- Phase 2 hearing dates
Phase 1 report
Writing the Phase 1 report has proved to be a far more complex and time-consuming task than the Inquiry had originally anticipated. The report will set out in detail what happened during the night of 14 June 2017. That involves an almost minute-by-minute description of how the fire started, how it spread and what was happening on each floor of the Tower. It also involves a detailed description and analysis of what was happening in the incident control room and on the ground, as well as the response of the emergency services and relevant organisations.
There is a significant volume of evidence to be reviewed and detailed work to be done to ensure findings are properly tied to all relevant parts of the evidence. The Chairman is seeking to complete the report as soon as possible but needs to ensure he does not compromise its thoroughness and accuracy. The Inquiry must also accommodate sufficient time for the rule 13 process, under which the Chairman is required to send warning letters to individuals or organisations that may be subject to criticism in order to give them an opportunity to respond before the report is finalised.
The Inquiry expects the rule 13 process to begin in July and that the Chairman will be in a position to write to the Prime Minister with his final report after the parliamentary recess, for publication most likely in October.
The Chairman wrote to Core Participants last month to explain that the fact that the Chairman does not consider it appropriate to make interim recommendations ahead of the Phase 1 report should not be taken as an indication that he does not regard any of the suggestions put forward as important or that he will not make recommendations in due course. However, for any recommendation to carry the weight necessary to bring about change, it needs to be firmly grounded in the evidence presented in Phase 1. The scope of Phase 1 was limited to what occurred on the night of 14 June 2017 and it follows that it will not be possible to make recommendations relating to matters that were not fully examined in Phase 1.
The suggestions submitted by Core Participants and the Inquiry experts range over a wide area. Many arise out of, or look forward to, evidence yet to be received in Phase 2 of the Inquiry, and will be considered once that evidence has been heard. As part of his work on the Phase 1 report the Chairman is currently considering what recommendations he should make which arise out of his conclusions on the evidence relating to Phase 1.
Evidence relating to the deceased
The Inquiry is meeting a working group of BSR legal representatives early next month to consider how best to take forward plans for fact-finding hearings relating to the deceased.
The Inquiry will seek to carry out, as far as it properly can within the Terms of Reference, an investigation into the deaths caused by the fire of a kind that will make it unnecessary for the coroner to pursue her own investigations. For each person who died, the questions which are required to be answered by an inquest are who the deceased was and when, where and how they died. The scope of the evidence heard in Phase 1 is directly relevant to answering the first three questions. Some of the evidence heard in Phase 1 will also be relevant to the circumstances in which people died, but important evidence bearing on that question will also be heard during Phase 2.
Preparation for the Phase 2 hearings is continuing in parallel with the preparation of the Phase 1 report. Phase 1 was limited to finding out exactly what happened on 14 June 2017. Phase 2 is focused on establishing how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition that allowed a tragedy of this scale to occur. The Inquiry continues to plan for Phase 2 hearings to commence in January 2020. The full scope of Phase 2 can be viewed in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
As set out in our last disclosure bulletin to Core Participants, the Inquiry has, to date, disclosed more than 36,100 documents relating to Phase 2. This process will continue in tranches throughout 2019.
The next tranches of disclosure will include Building Control documents, Mechanical and Engineering documents relating to the lift and smoke control system, and documents relating to Fire Risk Assessment.
We understand that Core Participants are keen to know the details of the new venue. Negotiations on the lease are well advanced and the Inquiry hopes to be in a position to announce the venue by the end of May. Building on what the Inquiry learned during the first phase of hearings, we will consider all suggestions regarding the facilities and the layout of the new hearing room.
Next drop in
The next Inquiry drop in will take place at the Notting Hill Methodist Church on 3 June 2019 16:00-18:30.