Last edited 11 Jun 2024

Grenfell Tower Inquiry


In brief

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is a British public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people and destroyed Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. It was set up in 2017 and has disclosed over 320,000 documents to core participants, received over 1,600 witness statements, and held more than 300 public hearings. More than 530 individuals and organisations have been granted core participant status which it is believed to be the largest number accredited to a public inquiry in the UK.

The inquiry was divided into two phases, phase 1 covering what happened on the night of the fire, and phase 2 covering how and why it happened. The phase 1 report from the inquiry was published at the end of 2019, and whilst the Phase 2 report has suffered a number of delays, the hearings finally closed in May of 2024 and it was announced that the final report, would be published on Wednesday September 4, 2024.

A website was set up to provide the latest information, including details of hearings, evidence and how to contact the inquiry team:

Establishment of the inquiry

On June 14, 2017, a fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, a block of flats in North Kensington, London. The fire started shortly before 1 a.m. and engulfed the building within 15 minutes. 72 people were eventually confirmed dead.

On June 16, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a public inquiry into the fire. The inquiry was to report directly to the Prime Minister. On June 29, 2017, she announced that Sir Martin Moore-Bick had been appointed to lead the inquiry.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick.jpg

Sir Martin Moore-Bick was recommended by the Lord Chief Justice and is an experienced former Court of Appeal judge. He was called to the bar in 1969 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1986. He was appointed to the High Court in 1995 and to the Court of Appeal in 2005. He retired as a Lord Justice of Appeal in December 2016. He specialised in commercial law, dealing with disputes relating to the transport of goods.

The inquiry was established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence under oath. The inquiry was set up to prioritise establishing the facts so that action can be taken to prevent a similar tragedy. It also considers the wider lessons from the fire and the inspections of other buildings that followed. Evidence gathering should include:

  • Considering reports by the police, the fire brigade, safety experts, and others,.
  • Obtaining relevant documents from whatever sources.
  • Contacting anyone who may have relevant information to give and who may be called as a witness.

Theresa May said:

I am determined that there will be justice for all the victims of this terrible tragedy and for their families who have suffered so terribly... We must get to the truth about what happened. No stone will be left unturned by this Inquiry, but I have also been clear that we cannot wait for ages to learn the immediate lessons and so I expect the Chair will want to produce an interim report as early as possible.

However, the terms of reference were immediately called into question, when, speaking on 29 June, Sir Martin said:

I'm well aware the residents and the local people want a much broader investigation and I can fully understand why they would want that... Whether my inquiry is the right way in which to achieve that I'm more doubtful and I will give that some thought and in due course make a recommendation.

Inquiry terms of reference

On 15 Aug 2017, the full terms of reference were published, including:

The terms drew immediate criticism for being too narrow and excluding the wider social and political conditions around the tragedy, as well as the implications of social housing policy.

Joe Delaney from the Grenfell Action Group said: "If it is interpreted as narrowly as it seems Sir Martin Moore-Bick instinctively seems to interpret things then we may have a serious problem."

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister Theresa May to express his deep concern with the decision to exclude the broader social and political issues raised by the fire from the terms of reference of the inquiry; "The fire has raised profound concerns about the way that social housing is provided and managed in this country, and I as well as many survivors worry that without a wider focus, the inquiry will fail to get fully to grips with the causes of the fire."

After the terms were published, May said the wider implications of the fire on social housing policy would be examined separately by the housing minister, Alok Sharma.

Proceedings in reverse order


Seven year anniversary

A Silent Walk on 14 June 2024 to mark 7 years since the Grenfell Tower Fire will gather at the Notting hill Methodist Church from 6pm and the walk will begin at 6:30pm. There will be speeches and a call to justice at the end.

Phase 2 hearings end and report announcement

The hearings for the second phase of the inquiry finally closed on May 22 of 2024 and it was announced that the final report, would be published on Wednesday September 4, 2024. Also on May 22, Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy said the release of the report is likely to delay being able to consider charges, as time will be needed to consider the final findings of the public inquiry into the disaster and the complexity of the investigation.

The Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service said no charges would be announced until late 2026 at the earliest because of the increasing “scale and complexity” of the inquiry. Though nineteen companies and organisations are currently under investigation, along with 58 individuals over the disaster, it was confirmed that it is unlikely that any defendants would appear in court before 2027, if there are prosecutions.

Phase 2 report second delay

In April 2024, the team leading the Grenfell Tower Inquiry said publication of the phase two report would face a third delay and would not be released before June 14, the seventh anniversary of the fire, as it had planned. The reason for the delay cited by the inquiry was that “we have had to write to about 250 people, and the process has been significantly larger and more complex than we had originally expected.”


Sixth year anniversary

On June 14, 2023, the 6th anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire marked 72 months since 72 loved lives were lost. A month for every life lost.

The Phase 2 report was initially planned to be published in late 2023, but in May 2023, it was announced that it would be delayed until early 2024. Then, in November 2023, it was announced that the report would not be published until the summer of 2024. But the panel said they hoped to share it with the prime minister before the fire’s seventh anniversary on June 14, 2024.


The final hearing of the Grenfell Tower phase 1 Inquiry took place on 10 November 2022.


The inquiry’s Chief Council, Richard Millett QC, highlighted and argued that deregulation that had taken place under the government at the time “led to a complete absence of proper checks and balances so far as concerns life safety." The Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government between 2010 and 2015, Pickles, argued against this, asking the inquiry to “not waste his time," wrongly stating the number of deaths, and sparking anger amongst survivors. Survivors highlighted that the lack of support from the council and tenant management organisation (TMO) had often meant they were “left to try and figure it out for themselves.” It was argued that the government had not learned any lessons from the Lakanal fire in 2009, where six people died.

The Social Housing (Regulation) bill

The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill was laid before Parliament on June 8, 2022. It aimed to deliver the proposals that were set out in the Social Housing White Paper, published two years earlier in response to failings that contributed to the Grenfell tragedy, by introducing measures to improve fairness and accountability for residents.

Building Safety Act

The Building Safety Bill received royal assent to become the Building Safety Act on April 28, a “key step in an extensive overhaul of building safety legislation." Many of the measures were expected to take between 12 and 18 months to be formally introduced. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stated at the time that he was “extremely concerned” over the lack of progress made by the government since the first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry.

In March, the previous head of technical policy for building regulation, who had been in his position for 17 years and was responsible for the official guidance in Approved Document B, said, “Over the last few months, I’ve been looking through evidence and documents, and when you line them up in the way we’ve done in the last seven days [at the inquiry], it became clear to me that there were a number of occasions where I could have potentially prevented this happening." Brian also pointed to government policies deregulating the industry that left him as “a single point of failure” in an under-resourced department.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Michael Gove, announced that the company Rydon Homes, associated with Grenfell Tower, would be blocked from a new government housing scheme.


Government policy

The last session brought a spotlight on government policy, with the LFB Commissioner, Andy Roe, claiming ministers knew about the fire risks related to high-rise buildings months before the Grenfell Tower disaster. The QC, representing the bereaved and survivors, told the inquiry that evidence would show that “there was a deliberate policy by the government... to facilitate a hostile environment in which health and safety are diminished." He claimed that the inquiry needed to cross-examine David Cameron in person because of his policy deregulation. Consecutive governments were also accused of “deliberately covering up” the dangers posed to combustible materials before the Grenfell Tower fire.

Firefighting examined

The QC, representing Sadiq Khan, said the tenant management organisation did little to see if Grenfell was suitable for the stay-put strategy in its fire assessments. Weeks before the fire, London Fire Brigade staff wrote a presentation that warned of the risks of façade fires. The London Fire Brigade’s former director said that at the time of the Grenfell Tower fire, more than 5,000 high-rise buildings were not present on the brigade’s operational risk database.

Lack of transparency

The government was heavily criticised as it was highlighted that thousands of high-rise homes continued to face fire safety defects. The revelations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry were cited as evidence in a US court case by the shareholders of the cladding firm, Arconic. The case premise was that, if managers knew the cladding to be dangerous, investors in the company should have been warned before they invested and it was sold. Two anonymous employees gave evidence indicating the managers knew that the cladding had performed badly in fire safety tests. In other evidence, witnesses from the British Board of Agrément were questioned over their failure to obtain tests on the cassette version of the Reynobond 55 cladding from Arconic, as well as their certification on Kingspan’s Kooltherm K15 insulation product, which had included statements about fire performance that were “inaccurate and misleading and which had no proper evidential basis.”.

Fire Safety Act

The Fire Safety Bill was passed as an Act of Parliament, becoming the Fire Safety Act 2021, designed to clarify who is accountable for reducing the risk of fires in multi-occupied residential buildings.

For further information, visit the Fire Safety Act 2021.

Complaints unanswered

The leader of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council that owned Grenfell Tower apologised for putting profits before people’s safety, saying, “Before 2017, the council did not find the right balance between financial benefits and social benefits... We fell below the bar on consultation, transparency, scrutiny, and policy, and for that, we apologise.”

The inquiry scrutinised the qualifications of the fire risk assessor who had been hired to check the safety of Grenfell Tower between 2009 and 2016, indicating assessments being cut and pasted from other buildings, and questioned his fire door assessments. Evidence given, however, also highlighted 23 high-priority actions four months after a 2016 Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) had not been fixed by the tenant management organisation, KCTMO. It was revealed that the landlord had blocked staff computers from accessing a residents’ blog, which raised concerns over the building’s refurbishment work, and both the landlord and KCTMO had not listened to residents concerns in the months and years before the fire, resulting in individuals being labelled as "troublemakers.”.

Furthermore, the inquiry heard that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) had warned the landlords about the dangerous cladding two months before the fire, and the council (RBKC) had forwarded the letter FYI to the tenant management organisation, KCTMO, but no action was taken. Lawyers for the bereaved said in opening statements that “RBKC prioritised cost over safety” and the council displayed an “ethos of indifference or hostility” to the safety of residents, particularly those lacking in a duty of care for vulnerable and disabled people, often dismissing resident requests.

Products not withdrawn

Upon examination of employees at Arconic, the cladding firm revealed that the firm must have known of the fire risks associated with the materials being used. A former sales manager noted that as early as 2013, there had been discussion about withdrawing the polyethylene core material from sale due to a spate of high-rise fires in the UAE, but they had chosen not to for financial reasons. The president of Arconic’s French arm later admitted that the firm had omitted critical test data for its panels that had failed fire tests. Test data of the cassette product showing a safety rating of E, below the B rating required for high rise in England, was not shared with the British Board of Agrément in 2008. The president indicated that they had not deliberately concealed the information from the BBA, which issued the fire safety certificate, but it was heard that a senior executive at Arconic would likely have known that the cladding panels were unsafe for buildings above 12 metres in height two years before the disaster. The Global Technical Support Manager for Kingspan revealed that fire test reports on products were often kept secret by those “that do the testing.”.


The social housing white paper

The social housing white paper, or “The Charter for Social Housing Residents,” was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government in November 2020. An in-depth government review, after Grenfell, of failings and a wide consultation with the social housing sector. It revealed five themes for further action, published for further consultation in the “A New Deal for Social Housinggreen paper:

After a shuffle of several housing ministers and against a backdrop of nationwide complications including Brexit and COVID-19, the long-delayed white paper was finally published. The white paper set out wide-ranging and compulsory changes to how social housing organisations operate, and themes from the green paper above have been re-drafted and expanded into seven themes with further specific policies, measures, and an enhanced role for the Regulator for Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman.

Cost savings

The facade company Harley Facades accused the polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam rigid manufacturer, Celotex, of misleading them over the suitability of their product for high-rise buildings. Evidence showed the contractor, Rydon, saved over £100,000 by using the product alternative and admitted overlooking a Kex document regarding the fire hazards of cladding. Further evidence revealed a total of £800,000 in savings were agreed upon during an un-minuted closed meeting between the building's landlord, Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, and the contractor, Rydon. The refurbishment project manager admitted binning her notebooks from the project a year after the event, despite the upcoming inquiry.

Misleading testing

A Guardian article reported that three major manufacturers of cladding materials (Arconic, Celotex, and Kingspan) “abused testing regimes, deliberately misled customers about the performance of their products, and circumvented regulations with clever marketing." All were found by lawyers to have misled testers or ignored compliance requirements, with all three disputing the claims and pointing the finger at each other and the other construction professionals. The executives of Arconic refused to attend the inquiry. Previous employees of Celotex gave evidence that over-engineered fire safety tests could help achieve a pass with the PIR, furthermore recounting a first test whereby the material failed. The panels eventually passed the test after concealed fire-retardant panels were added. The employee was told not to mention this information in presentation slides produced for the sales team.

Draft Building Safety Bill

By the third anniversary of the fire in June, the National Audit Office highlighted that removal work for dangerous cladding was still outstanding on over 300 buildings, and another 1,700 using aluminium composite material could potentially be unsafe. By July, the inquiry had recommenced under social distancing rules and revealed emails from as early as 2014 seeking clarification on the fire resistance of the cladding, referencing a previous fire in 2009. The indication was that these emails were largely ignored.

The government announced the publication of its draft Building Safety Bill for review.

Building Safety Fund

In the March budget, a £1 billion Building Safety Fund was announced, providing extra funds from the government to support the removal of combustible Grenfell-type cladding on tower blocks. This was part of a £1 billion Building Safety Fund. On March 16, 2020, following the coronavirus outbreak, the inquiry was suspended. It wasn't expected that the inquiry would start before July, which was reviewed in May. files/2020.03.16%20Message%20from%20the%20Chairman.pdf

In February 2020, Sir Martin Moore-Bick accepted that witnesses for the companies involved in refurbishment of the building could apply to be protected from having their answers used against them in court. The attorney general then ruled that anything said by witnesses would not be used to prosecute them. Lawyers from Arconic (cladding firm), Studio E (refurb architects), Rydon (refurb contractor), Harley Façades (design and installation of cladding, subcontractor to Rydon), Celotex (makers of combustible installation), all made statements. Lawyers disclosed emails showing Celotex knew their product was not safe to use with cladding and the architects admitted they were selected without competitive tender and had little experience in similar projects.

Phase 2 hearings commence

28 January: Phase 2 hearings commenced to review matters beyond the night of the fire, including how Grenfell Tower ended up being covered with flammable cladding. The phase is expected to take 18 months and look at:

On January 25, 2020, the Prime Minister announced the resignation of Benita Mehra from her role as a panel member on the inquiry following the revelation of a potential conflict of interest.

On January 21, the government published its response to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report.


Phase 1 report

In November, the British Safety Council responded to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, specifically welcoming a number of recommendations from the executive summary of the inquiry and calling for the government to consider their implementation. In December, the Fire Brigade Commissioner, Dany Coton, took early retirement, the service being condemned in a report by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) for serious shortcomings, being described as slow and wasteful.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report was published on October 30, 2019. It found that the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB’s) preparation and planning for such a fire was “gravely inadequate," and in particular, incident commanders had received no training in how to recognise the need for an evacuation or how to organise one. Recommendations included:

For more information, see the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report.

In England, in June, a consultation on the Hackitt Report was opened, while in the US, a civil action was taken against Arconic and Celotex by survivors and families of the victims.


Stay-put policy

The inquiry ran until October. Discussions included communications problems, visibility and smoke, the policy of staying in place, known as 'stay put', and the absence of an adequate fire safety plan. The Fire Brigades Union stated that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had failed to make an evacuation plan for Grenfell Tower, and it was suggested that 239 people could have been evacuated in seven minutes on the single stairwell. The Fire Brigade Commissioner, Dany Coton, says she would not have changed the operation (27 September) and came under heavy criticism from survivors.

Proposed ban

The company responsible for the production of the cladding panels (Arconic) stated more heat was released by the burning contents of the victims' flats in a combative and unapologetic closing statement.

In September, the government announced a plan to ban all combustible cladding for all new schools, hospitals, care homes, student accommodation, and residential buildings in England above 18 metres. The Fire Brigades Union responded that there should be an outright ban and that it apply to existing buildings.

First year anniversary

On June 14, the first anniversary of the fire was marked by a national moment of silence, a suspension of the Grenfell inquiry, and the illumination of Grenfell Tower and other buildings in green, the colour of the Grenfell United campaign. Also in June, the Met Police began to investigate the London Fire Brigade's “Stay Putpolicy under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The first expert witnesses presented to the public inquiry, witness statements from the resident of the flat where the fire started, and the London Fire Brigade incident logs were examined.

Expert reports

On June 4, 2018, the inquiry published four expert reports:

In addition, an opening statement was published by Harley Facades.

The reports revealed, amongst other things, found that there had been failures in fire doors, lifts, water supplies for firefighters, cavity barriers, ventilation systems, and the cladding system.

Dr. Barbara Lane wrote that “I have found no evidence yet that any member of the design team or the construction team ascertained the fire performance of the rain screen cladding system materials, nor understood how the assembly performed in fire... I have found no evidence that Building Control were either informed or understood how the assembly performed in fire, nor have I found evidence that the London Fire Brigade risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rain screen cladding system.”

The reports also suggested that the 'stay put’ advice given to occupants had remained in place for too long and that once the fire had breached the flat of origin, it would have been better if occupants had evacuated. However, there was insufficient evidence to determine the cause of the fire, even based on a balance of probabilities, although it had originated around a fridge-freezer in Flat 16. The evidence suggested that the subsequent spread of the fire was caused by polyethylene in the cladding.

Hackitt report

The final Hackitt report was published on May 17. Recommendations included: A new regulatory framework for high-risk residential buildings (HRRBs). The creation of a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA). Defined roles and responsibilities for “duty holders” (i.e., building owners). The introduction of a gateway system.

A new regulatory framework for high-risk residential buildings (HRRBs) over 30 metres was recommended. This included the creation of a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA), made up of local authority building standards, fire and rescue authorities, and the Health and Safety Executive.

See also the Hackitt review index on this site.

Phase 1 starts.

In April 2018, the timetable for the inquiry was unveiled. It would examine 13 separate issues: 4 in the first phase and 9 in the second.

The first phase was due to start on May 21st and run until early November 2018. This would begin with two weeks of testimony from friends and relatives of the 72 victims. Firefighters and commanders would then give evidence for around six weeks, starting on June 21st. The bereaved, survivors, and local residents would provide personal accounts during September.

This first phase would not examine why the fire happened or the decisions that were made regarding the refurbishment. These issues were to be dealt with in a second phase, which, it was suggested, could cause the inquiry to run into 2020.

However, in May 2019, it was announced that writing the phase 1 report had been more complex and time-consuming than originally anticipated and that it would be delayed until October 2019.

In January 2018, the accounting firm KPMG announced that it had quit as an advisor to the inquiry due to conflict of interest accusations. Campaigners argued that KPMG had failed to disclose its role as auditor to three of the organisations that are currently at the heart of the investigation: Rydon Construction (who refurbished Grenfell Tower in 2015), Celotex (the insulation material manufacturer), and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (the owner of the tower). In a statement, The Grenfell Tower Inquiry said, "Following concerns expressed by some core participants, the inquiry team has discussed the contract with KPMG, which has agreed that its work should now cease. The support and confidence of all core participants is integral to the work of the inquiry.”


In December 2017, the initial Hackitt report was published, describing the entire building regulatory system as “not fit for purpose” arguing that roles and responsibilities of procurement, design, construction and maintenance were unclear, there were inconsistent regulations and guidance, compliance processes and product testing was weak, there were systemic competence issues, and, finally, that voices of residents often go unheard.

In November 2017, Sir Martin Moore-Bick appointed Professor David Nethercot OBE to assist with considering technical issues. Prof Nethercot was emeritus professor of civil engineering at Imperial College London, past President of the Institution of Structural Engineers and a former Council Member of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The inquiry formally opened at 10:30am on 14 September 2017 at the Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, London, with an opening statement from Sir Martin Moore-Bick, setting out the approach to the inquiry and how it would operate. He introduced the Inquiry team, and confirmed that he would also appoint assessors to help him.

He clarified the terms of reference, stating that; “The terms of reference are deliberately cast in broad terms in order to give me scope to pursue whatever lines of inquiry seem likely to be fruitful. I think it worth emphasising that the specific areas of investigation to which they refer are intended to identify the main subjects of the Inquiry, but they are not intended to be exhaustive. It is for me to interpret the terms of reference and I shall not be deflected from pursuing lines of enquiry which may lead to information of value."

He also expanded on the structure of the Inquiry, saying:

“I propose to conduct the Inquiry in two phases. In the first phase I shall investigate the development of the fire itself, where and how it started, how it spread from its original seat to other parts of the building and the chain of events that unfolded during the course of the hours before it was finally extinguished. I shall also be looking into the response of the emergency services and the evacuation of residents."

"The second phase of the Inquiry will examine across a broad front how the building came to be so seriously exposed to the risk of a disastrous fire... I shall also examine the response to the disaster and the steps taken in the days immediately following the fire to provide food, shelter and other basic amenities to those whose homes had been destroyed and who had lost everything."

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External references


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