Grenfell families ’heartbroken’ as PM denies inquiry panel request

Families of Grenfell Tower fire victims are "heartbroken" Theresa May has denied requests for a diverse, decision-making panel to sit with the head of the public inquiry.

Adel Chaoui, who lost four relatives in the blaze, started a 22,000 signature petition delivered to Downing Street earlier this month, calling for an independent panel amid doubts over Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s suitability.

It is feared that the retired Court of Appeal judge lacks first-hand experience of the complex cultural factors underpinning the tragedy.

Only the Prime Minister can authorise a change in the inquiry’s format, but in a letter to Martin on Friday she said additional panel members should not be appointed in order for the first stage of the inquiry to be completed "as quickly as reasonably possible".

Speaking on behalf of bereaved families, Mr Chaoui said the decision to break the news ahead of Christmas, expected to be difficult enough with the absence of loved ones, raised "serious questions about judgment and intent".

He said: "Not only does the news continue to ignore our concerns, but it seems to have been timed deliberately, on the last working day for most law firms, to limit the time available for us to take legal advice and/or challenge the decision.

"Given the news was never going to be well received, the timing raises serious questions about judgment and intent.

"Poor judgement and discourtesy not to have waited until the New Year to avoid upset during the holidays, but more concerning, what could possibly be behind the intent to limit time available for a response?"

Mr Chaoui said they had 14 days to formally request a judicial review of the Prime Minister’s decision.

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