Sunday, August 6, 2017

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Whoosh Of Grenfell Tower

Mick Hall writing @ Organized Rage in July expressed little faith in the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire.

Updated: You can almost hear the whoosh of the Grenfell Tower public enquiry vehicle as it rushed by on it's journey to nowhere. 

A retired judge whom housing activists accuse of supporting “social cleansing” has controversially been appointed to lead the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower blaze that caused the deaths of at least 80 people.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who retired in December 2016 after a career spanning five decades as both a lawyer and a judge, was recommended to Downing Street by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, over a week ago, and was officially confirmed on Thursday.

Although establishment figures have branded the appointment an “excellent choice that will draw universal rounds of applause,” that applause was nowhere to be heard amongst the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. The decision to appoint Moore-Brick sparked a controversy within their community groups, as he once ruled in favour of a mother-of-five being rehoused by Westminster Council up to 50 miles away in Milton Keynes.

Back in 2014, Moore-Bick, whose most recent post was Lord Justice of Appeal, ruled the rehousing lawful, adding the council had no obligation to explain what other housing was available for the claimant Titina Nzolameso.

The woman’s lawyers claimed Moore-Bick’s ruling set a “terrible precedent for local authorities to engage in social cleansing of the poor on a mass scale.” In April 2015, the UK Supreme Court reversed the ruling, saying the judge had failed to ask “any questions aimed at assessing how practicable it would be for the family to move out of the area.”

Leading civil rights barrister Mike Mansfield QC, who has been involved in countless miscarriages of justice cases, said it's:

unbelievable that lessons are not learned from mistakes made in the child sex abuse inquiry ... In that instance, the government did not consult with the families and the survivors and the same thing seems to have happened all over again.

After Moore-Brick visited the scene of the fire he repeated the Tory mantra the fire was an "enormous tragedy," whereas most of the families and the fellow residents on their estate agree with Labour MP David Lammy when he said it was a "monstrous crime."

It's quite clear from the judges comments he was playing down expectations when he said:

I’ve been asked to undertake this inquiry on the basis that it would be pretty well limited to the problems surrounding the start of the fire and its rapid development, in order to make recommendations as to how this sort of thing can be prevented in the future ... I’m well aware that residents want a much broader investigation ... whether my inquiry is the right way in which to achieve that I’m more doubtful.An interim report could be produced within a year, the inquiry could be very challenging. I think it's impossible to say how long it's going to take; I have said on other occasions a matter of months, some people have talked about two or three months. I don't think that's realistic ... I would hope to be able to answer the basic factual questions such as how did the fire start, how did it spread, how was it able to engulf the building in such speed and also questions such as what internal precautions there were, what steps were available for alerting residents and allowing them to escape."

Speaking after the meeting with Moore-Brick, Joe Delaney, from the Grenfell Action Group, said:

He seems a genuine guy but seems to want to keep the scope very narrow... while we are more looking at why was it started in the first place, why were residents ignored?

Pilgrim Tucker, a housing campaigner who worked with Grenfell Action Group to expose the safety flaws at the tower is spot on when he said:

Residents pleaded with Theresa May to involve them in the decision-making about the inquiry. In appointing Sir Martin Moore-Bick, she has ignored them and appointed a completely inappropriate judge. We can have no faith that this inquiry will produce justice for Grenfell residents.
Jamal Williams who also lives on the Estate on which Grenfell tower is situated agreed with Pilgrim:

I think we need to call for a parallel inquiry. I think the inquiry is going to be very narrow, that is what I have come to understand.

To give him credit Moore-Bick has literally said as much, which makes one question why he took the job in the first place if he believed residents and the families of the victims want a much broader investigation?  Doesn't that seem to be a dishonourable thing to do?

Public enquiries have always been used by British governments to kick troublesome issues into the long grass. Tony Blair called a number of them to dig himself out of a hole of his own making. The Hutton Inquiry was perhaps the most notorious. Blair successfully used the narrow confines of this inquiries, along with the appointment of a pliable judge to keep his government's secrets from the public domain.

During Hutton decades in Northern Ireland he was known as the guardian angel of the British establishment, thus it was hardly surprising such a pliable fellow would be appointed by Blair, nor when he issued his report it exonerated from blame virtually everyone in the government.

After all as far as the British state is concerned that is what judicial public inquiries are for.

It was only after a public enquiry was set up by Gordon Brown with Sir John Chilcot, a non-judge in the chair, we finally got answers about the Iraq war and occupation.

Much the same happened over Hillsborough, a judge led public inquiry got nowhere, it was only after the families set-up their own Hillsborough Independent Panel to look into what happened, and who was culpable, the families finally got answers and actions from the police and criminal justice system.

After British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march in Doire, which resulted in 14 having their lives stolen by the state. The British government commissioned the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery to head a tribunal to look into the bloody events of that day. When Widgery produced his report it supported the Army's account of the events of the day almost word for word. If ever a man should have been charged with bringing a public office into disrepute it was Widgery. Sadly that has never been the British establishments way.  In this class prejudice nation only the minnows get pushed under the bus..

As with the Hillsborough, the victims families spent years protesting and demanding justice for their loved ones before the truth was out. This only finally happened because they insisted judges from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia sat along side Mark Savile the British judge who headed the Saville Inquiry.

The reaction of many Tory MP's since the appointment of Moore-Bick, reeks of a cover up. They having been touring the TV and radio studios condemning Corbyn's response, claiming we need to take partisan politics out of this tragedy and await the public enquiry report.

You can almost hear the whoosh of the Grenfell Tower public enquiry vehicle as it rushed by on it's journey to nowhere.