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Inquiry told culture of carelessness led to Grenfell deaths

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awyers representing the victims of the Grenfell Tower said a culture of carelessness led to the tragic 2017 blaze which claimed 72 lives.

Stephanie Barwise QC, who is representing a group of bereaved families, victims and local residents at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, claimed professionals responsible for the cladding did not look at existing guidance and regulations for fire safety.

She said while the inquiry often heard professionals use "a lack of clarity in regulations" as a line of defence, that argument is "flawed".

Speaking at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, she said in a closing statement on Monday: "The non-compliance of the Grenfell facade was not caused by a lack of clarity and the guidance, since the designers and contractors were generally not conversant with it.

"None of the designers or contractors can say with any credibility they were not warned."

Ms Barwise added that evidence showed contractors and designers knew they were dealing with materials which contained a plastic.

"Most school children know that plastic melts when heated. No credence should be given to contractors and designers who claim ignorance.

"Despite being a legacy, and very high profile project for the Royal Borough of Kensington Chelsea (RBKC), and the only building it had ever over clad, the refurbishment of Grenfell was hastily conceived by an inept design team with a hapless lead consultant, Studio E, inexperienced in high rise and cladding projects."

Speaking on behalf of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Martin Seaward QC added that a culture of deregulation is also to blame for the lack of caution exercised.

He said: "Enforcement measures were inadequate, as has been rightly admitted by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in respect to building control.

"Mistakes were made, as has been rightly admitted by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC). The construction industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself, because ultimately, the profit motive prevails over safety and quality."

Ms Barwise also urged the panel to be firm with the industry when making its recommendations and suggesting a ban on non-combustible materials.

The latest developments in the hearing come as Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen said the fire happened because "no-one was listening to poor people".

The 12 Years A Slave and Small Axe director has been a vocal supporter of the families of the victims of the 2017 fire and previously announced a film project acting as a "lasting memorial".

Appearing on Annie Macmanus' podcast Changes, the 51-year-old said: "And I think with what happened in Grenfell, I remember I was shooting Widows in Chicago when it happened. I just couldn't believe it. And it happened because people were poor.

"It happened because no-one was listening to poor people. The only reason these people died was because they were poor. That was it. There was no other reason other than that."

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