Grenfell Tower inquiry panel member resigns over links to cladding firm

Nellie Chapman
January 29, 2020

She was selected as an expert for the second phase of the inquiry, due to begin on Monday, but was linked with the charity arm of one of the companies which supplied material for Grenfell Tower.

Benita Mehra tendered her resignation to prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, after it was disclosed that she is an immediate past president of the Women's Engineering Society which, according to the society's website, a year ago received funding from Arconic - the supplier of Grenfell's cladding - for an apprentice conference. He said there has been "a stunning silence" from Mr Johnson and the Cabinet Office on the resignation of Ms Mehra and whether she would be replaced.

"All core participants who played a material part in Grenfell Tower have laid out a detailed case that it relied on others, and how in no way was the work it did either substandard or non-compliant [with building regulations]".

He said: "We have little time for buck-passing from the businesses complicit in wrapping Grenfell with flammable cladding".

Phase 2 will examine the circumstances and causes of the disaster, including how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread in the way identified in Phase 1.

Boris Johnson said: "I can confirm that Benita Mehra wrote to me yesterday to offer her resignation from the Grenfell Tower inquiry panel and I have accepted".

Earlier in the day, legal counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett told the audience at the first day of a new phase of the inquiry in London that numerous involved parties had engaged in a "merry-go-round of buck-passing" by failing to take responsibility for the deadly blaze, as quoted by the newspaper.

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As the swaying and shaking became more violent, most people started to run; the ones who stayed behind got under their desks. Mr Whittaker said there were reports of sinkholes opening in roads and auto parks, as well as damage to vehicles.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Ms Mehra's resignation was "welcome news" and her appointment should "never have been made in the first place". "We deserve a fair crack at justice and will continue to fight for it".

Grenfell United, a group representing bereaved families and survivors, hope the next stage of the inquiry "will expose the people and organisations who put profit and agreed above our safety".

But the police have said they would not announce any decisions on charges until the public inquiry has concluded, because they needed to take into account its findings.

Studio E-architectural firm, an Exova firefighter, facade installer Harley and main contractor Rydon discussed how the 120-storey and 24-storey tower cladding would probably fail two years before the tragedy.

The tower was built in 1974 and underwent an extensive refurbishment between 2012 and 2016, when the building was wrapped in highly flammable aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.

"Metal cladding always burns down", an architect emailed a fireman in the spring of 2015 while the project was underway. The "precise reasons" why the material was added to the building will be a key consideration, the first report said. It is due to run until June 2021, and more than 93,000 documents have so far been disclosed, the inquiry said.

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