GRENFELL TOWER ENQUIRY – Newly appointed Grenfell Tower fire inquiry panel member resigns amid “conflict of interest” controversy

Benita Mehra said she recognised and respected the “depth of feeling” among some about her appointment, she resigned after she was linked to the charitable arm of a firm which supplied the block’s deadly cladding.

Ms Mehri, an engineer, had been appointed to replace academic Prof Nabeel Hamdi as an expert panellist for the second phase of the inquiry. Victims’ families had raised concerns to the prime minister about her former role as a past president of the Women’s Engineering Society, which received funding from the Arconic Foundation for an apprentice conference. Arconic supplied the cladding on the outside of the west London tower block, which caught fire on 14 June 2017, claiming 72 lives.

The Grenfell United group said the resignation had helped to “lift growing anxiety ahead of phase two, and that the government should never have put families in this situation.

“They failed to carry out basic checks and understand the importance and sensitivities around a fair and proper process.”

Grenfell United said the government must now urgently find a new panellist to replace Ms Mehra “to bring expertise on community relations to the inquiry”, adding it “does not need another technical expert”. Families had been threatening to boycott the opening of the second phase of the Grenfell inquiry.

Ms Mehra she said it was apparent her former role as president of the Women’s Engineering Society that had caused “serious concern” among a number of inquiry participants.

A report following the first phase of the public inquiry into the fire found in October last year that the tower block’s cladding did not comply with building regulations and was the “principal” reason for the fire’s rapid and “profoundly shocking” spread.

Arconic still insist that a “confluence of unfortunate circumstances” rather than the “mere presence” of the panels had caused the spread of the fire.

    The Grenfell fire inquiry continues next week.

And finally, Lest we forget…

On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Kensington, West London, at 00:54 BST; it caused 72 deaths, including those of two victims who later died in hospital. More than 70 others were injured and 223 people escaped.

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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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