Jail anyone found guilty of causing Grenfell Tower blaze, say survivors

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Grenfell survivors and relatives of victims today welcomed a corporate manslaughter investigation but called for jail sentences for anyone found guilty of causing the blaze. 

The Metropolitan Police said senior figures from Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) would be questioned under caution after detectives found “reasonable grounds” to suspect offences may have been committed by the two organisations. 

Former hairdresser Hesham Rahman, 57, who lived on the 20th floor of the tower block, is believed to have died in the fire after he was told to await rescue when he dialled 999.

His nephew, Karim Mussilhy, 31, today said: “We welcome the corporate manslaughter investigation. We think anyone who is found guilty should be locked up.

“We do think that the net has to be cast wider though. Everyone connected with decisions about Grenfell should be interviewed and held accountable if they have done something wrong.”

Campaigners have urged police to also consider gross negligence manslaughter charges against individuals, which can carry prison sentences if convicted. The maximum sentence for corporate manslaughter is a fine. 

Sajad Jamalvatan, 22, a biomedical engineering student who lived on the third floor of the block and whose mother fled the blaze, said: “Corporate manslaughter is a start but it’s not far enough.

“We want to see individuals who took the decisions which led to so many dying to face justice. We want individuals in the dock and for them to go to prison.”

Mr Jamalvatan, who lost friends in the blaze, and has still not been rehoused, said: “At the moment this is nowhere near justice.”

At least 80 people are believed to have died in the 24-storey block on June 14. The area’s MP said that senior councillors and decision-makers linked to its refurbishment should not stay in their roles during the investigation.

Emma Dent Coad, who won the Kensington seat for Labour shortly before the fire, claimed it was “impossible” for anyone who may have played a role in authorising the use of flammable material on the building to command public confidence.

Asked about the future of the council and KCTMO leadership, Ms Dent Coad said: “I really don’t see how anybody who was anywhere near the actual decision-making process could possibly continue working, any of them at all.” 

Yvette Williams, of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group, said: “We welcome that there is enough information and evidence to go down the corporate prosecution route.

“However, what we would like to see running alongside that is individuals being prosecuted. We want individuals named and prosecuted.” 

The Metropolitan Police said its letter to those affected outlining the investigation was “simply an update” and “should not be taken to conclude that the identified offences and organisations are the only offences, organisations or individuals that are being investigated”.

Robert Black, chief executive of KCTMO, has stepped down to “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”.

Council leader Elizabeth Campbell met victims’ relatives at a vigil at Notting Hill Methodist Church yesterday. She said: “We fully support the Metropolitan Police investigation and will co-operate in every way we can.”


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