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Police say there are “reasonable grounds” for corporate manslaughter charges over the Grenfell Tower blaze that left at least 80 dead.
Both Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) have been told they may have committed manslughter.
The news has emerged after a letter was sent by the Metropolitan Police to Grenfell survivors and families of those who died.
The letter said that a “huge amount of material” had been seized and a “large number of witness statements” taken.
It added: “After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter.”
Both organisations will now be questioned under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act.
A Met Police spokesman told the Standard: “This is a complex and far reaching investigation that by its very nature will take a considerable time to complete.
“The Met has made a commitment to the families who lost loved ones in the fire and survivors that they will be kept updated, as far as we possibly can, as the investigation continues.
“As is routine, we will not give a running commentary on this investigation.”
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Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown and his deputy Rock Feilding-Mellen resigned amid fierce criticism of the council’s response to the disaster.
Robert Black, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which manages Grenfell Tower, also stepped down so he could “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”.
Responding to the letter to residents, newly elected council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “Our residents deserve answers about the Grenfell Tower fire and the police investigation will provide these.
“We fully support the Metropolitan Police investigation and we will co-operate in every way we can.
“It would not be appropriate to comment further on matters subject to the police investigation.”
Yvette Williams, a co-ordinator at the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group, said the development would help restore trust between the police and the west London community.
Suspicion in the authorities has brewed following the fire, with many residents wary about the speed of their investigation.
Ms Williams said: “I do think now police have made that statement that trust in the investigation process will grow.
“We welcome that there is enough information and evidence to go down the corporate prosecution route for the TMO and RBKC.
“However, what we would like to see running alongside that is individuals being prosecuted.
“We want is individuals named and prosecuted – you can have both, but we don’t want corporate manslaughter on its own.
“People implement policy, people make decisions, people took particular actions and those people are responsible.
“You can’t put corporate organisations in the dock, you put individuals.”
Organisations and companies face huge fines if they are found guilty of corporate manslaughter, according to Crown Prosecution Service guidelines.
At least 80 people were killed when the blaze ripped through the 24-storey block of flats in west London on June 14.
The news comes after family and friends of five of those killed in the fire, including two child victims, gathered to remember their loved ones on Thursday.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, joined a congregation in north Kensington, a little more than half a mile from the scene of the disaster six weeks ago.
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