I see the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry has got off to a good start:
Families of those killed in the Grenfell Tower fire left an inquiry in tears after a video of the blaze was shown without a warning.
One woman was said to have collapsed outside the hearing after seeing the video, which included footage filmed from inside the burning building.
An inquiry official apologised, saying a warning system had failed.
People attending an inquiry into the causes of a tower block blaze collapse after unexpectedly seeing footage of the tower block blaze. What did they expect, The Sound of Music?
Karim Mussily, whose uncle Hesham Rahman lived on the 23rd floor, earned a standing ovation from other relatives in the room when he told the inquiry: “We’ve been censored enough, it’s our time; whether you like it or not, you have to listen.”
Never mind what actually happened, then. And relatives of Grenfell Tower fire victims claiming they’ve been censored is like Noam Chomsky and John Pilger writing columns in national newspapers complaining they’ve been silenced. The Guardian has more:
There was anger at the way participants were silenced by inquiry lawyers. One person, Nabil Choucair, who lost six loved ones, was told that a part of the statement he wanted to make had been rejected by the inquiry.
Choucair wanted to make clear that he had taken no part in the production of a tribute presented by his brother, Hisham, on Tuesday that caused 20 people to walk out and one woman to collapse in distress because of the footage showing the burning tower. A broadcaster had wrongly captioned film of the incident with his name.
So rather than try to find out how the fire started, why it spread so rapidly, and what went wrong with evacuating the residents the inquiry is reduced to bickering over who made a video. And we’re only on Day Two.
“This is another example of the public inquiry running it the way they want to do and picking and choosing who they want,” Choucair said. “It gives me great concern over who this inquiry is about.”
You and me both mate, but I suspect for different reasons.
Others were angry at plans to move proceedings from the Millennium Gloucester hotel, in South Kensington, a convenient location for members of the community, to offices in Holborn, once the tributes to the dead are completed.
In other words, people are angry that the actual inquiry will begin and the grief-mongering cease.
Chris Imafidon, who said he had tutored children who lost parents in the fire, said: “They say … it’s better in Holborn for all the lawyers and all the judges that are there, they said they can’t find a convenient place here. Everything that’s perceived to be the needs of the survivors, the first thing they say is no. That insensitivity, that arrogance! That they know everything and we know nothing because we’re poor.”
I wonder if those who conducted the inquiry into the Herald of Free Enterprise or the King’s Cross fire heeded the views of those whose sole connection with events was the tutoring of victims’ children?
Yvette Williams said she was concerned about who would be chosen as “additional panel members” to the inquiry board, additions that the community had fought for. In a recent blogpost on the Justice4Grenfell website, she wrote: “It is vital that the PM and inquiry team does not select panel members who look like us but ‘act’ like them.”
So being non-white is not enough, panel members must also act non-white. Whatever that means.
The audience wept as the voice of Fethia Hassan, four, was played at the end of an emotional video tribute to the child, to her sister Hania Hassan, three, and their mother Rania Ibrahim, 31. Speaking in Arabic in the recording, made during a trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the girl blew kisses to her cousins and told them she loved them.
Let nobody doubt the value a four year old speaking in Arabic from Jeddah brings to an inquiry as to how a fire started in a London tower block.
There isn’t going to be an inquiry, is there?