The Inquiry has written to core participants with an update on the Phase 1 report embargo.
The Chairman regrets that members of the media have obtained the content of the Phase 1 report, or parts of it. The Chairman and the whole Inquiry team are very disappointed that someone has seen fit to disregard the confidential nature of the report during the embargo period. It is equally disappointing that media elected to publish what they would have been aware was subject to strict obligations of confidence.
Rule 17 of the Inquiry Rules provides that the contents of the report are to be treated, until the report has been published by the Chairman, as subject to an obligation of confidence owed by each person who has received a copy of the report to the Chairman. All core participants who received the Phase 1 report yesterday ahead of publication were asked to sign an agreement confirming that obligation. They were entitled to expect that other core participants would abide by it so that they could each read the report undistracted by media comment.
The report will be published at 10.00am tomorrow and Rule 17 continues to apply until that time.
The Inquiry’s intention when setting the embargo period (which is longer than any set by any previous public inquiry) was to provide those most affected by the fire with an opportunity to read the report at their own speed without the distraction of public discussion and comment ahead of publication. It was also intended to avoid a situation in which core participants learnt of the contents of the report from the media as a result of premature and unauthorised disclosure.
Over 200 bereaved, survivor and resident core participants are yet to collect their copies of the report and the Inquiry is aware that some legal representatives will be briefing their clients on it today.
The Inquiry recognises that, despite best efforts, the embargo has been compromised, and regrets the frustration that this has caused. The Inquiry also recognises that many core participants think it unfair that they should be prevented from speaking to the media at a time when the report is receiving widespread coverage. The Chairman has very considerable sympathy with that view, but he asks all core participants to continue to respect the embargo in order to give those who have not yet read the report such opportunity as remains to read it privately and at their own speed without the distraction of further piece-meal discussion in the media.