Grenfell survivors could be forced to wait until 2027 for justice, police reveal

Grenfell survivors could be forced to wait until 2027 for justice, police reveal

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire could be waiting until 2027 to see justice – more than a decade after the blaze killed 72 people, the Met Police have admitted.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said investigators will need another 12 to 18 months after the publication of the final public inquiry report into the blaze.

Grenfell United, the bereaved families and survivor group, said the wait for people to be held accountable was “unbearable”.

The final report, due to be released later this year, has been repeatedly delayed after first slated to be published in Autumn 2023.

The Grenfell Tower in west London after the fire in which 72 people died (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
The Grenfell Tower in west London after the fire in which 72 people died (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

The inquiry took evidence over four and a half years, and its final hearings were in November 2022.

Mr Cundy added that the publication of the report will be a “landmark moment” for the police and those affected by the fire.

“Based on where we are now, our estimation is that it will take at least another 12 to 18 months, once the inquiry publishes its report, before we will be in a position to finalise in essence what many people would call the charging file for us to then pass across to the specialist lawyers within the Crown Prosecution Service,” he said.

“I know that sounds such a long period of time. Seven years ago, we made a commitment to the bereaved and the survivors that we would follow the evidence wherever it would take us, we remain true to our word with that.

“We as the police have one chance to get this investigation done to the right standard, the right quality, and done the right way. We owe that to those who lost their lives, owe it to everybody who has been affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.”

Rosemary Ainslie, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said prosecutors would then need until the end of 2026 to make final decisions about any criminal charges.

This means defendants, if any, would likely not go on trial until 2027.

A spokesman for Grenfell United said:“Ten years until we see justice. Ten years until we see prosecutions.

“This should be shocking for everyone, but for us, we live our lives on hold while those responsible walk free.

“We need to see the people who perpetrated Grenfell held to account and charged for their crimes. The wait is unbearable.”

The seven-year anniversary of the deadliest blaze in the UK since the Second World War will be on 14 June this year.

Grenfell Tower after the fire (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)
Grenfell Tower after the fire (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)

The extensive police investigation into the matter has already generated 27,000 separate lines of inquiry, more than 12,000 witness statements and police have received around 152 million files.

Up to the end of March this year, the Met has spent £107.3 million on the inquiry, and there are 180 investigators currently working on the case.

A total of 19 companies and organisations are under investigation for potential criminal offences, as well as 58 individuals. More than 300 hours of interviews have taken place.

Offences under consideration include corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office, health and safety violations, fraud, and offences under the fire safety and building regulations.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I understand and share the deep frustration of the bereaved, survivors, the local community and all those affected seeking justice following the appalling Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

“The Met have today set out their ongoing work to hold those responsible to account and will leave no stone unturned in their investigation.

“This sadly still means that those impacted could be waiting up to a decade after the fatal fire to see those responsible brought to account.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. It’s vital that investigators and the Crown Prosecution Service are given the resources they need for this unique investigation to progress as swiftly as possible.”