A London MP has today branded the Grenfell Tower blaze ‘corporate manslaughter’ and demanded arrests are made because he fears hundreds may have died.
Labour’s David Lammy also said he was losing hope for close friend Khadija Saye, 24, and her mother Mary, who lived on the 20th floor but are still missing.
The furious Tottenham MP insisted that people must be ‘held to account’ for allowing the disaster to happen and said the police should arrest them.
He said: ‘This [Kensington and Chelsea] is the richest borough in our country treating its citizens in an appalling way and we should call it what it is. It is corporate manslaughter.
‘That is what it is and there should be arrests made. It is an outrage.’
The cladding used on Grenfell Tower may have exacerbated the fire, it has been claimed.
Rainscreen cladding, which was added during the block’s refurbishment, can act as a ‘chimney’ for fires because of its ventilated cavities.
Many have speculated as to whether this could have made the fire worse, and led to it spreading quickly and trapping residents.
Jack Monroe, a former fire fighter, tweeted about the incident and said: ‘Whoever signed off on that cladding needs to be hauled before a court and held fully accountable for every single fatality and injury.
Chartered surveyor and fire expert Arnold Tarling, from Hindwoods, said that the process can create a 25mm-30mm cavity between the cladding and the insulation.
‘It produces a wind tunnel and also traps any burning material between the rain cladding and the building.
‘So had it been insulated per se, the insulation could fall off and fall away from the building, but this is all contained inside.’
He said not all insulation used in the process is the more expensive non-flammable type
‘So basically you have got a cavity with a fire spreading behind it.’
Rydon carried out an £8.6 million project, completed in May 2016, to modernise the outside of the building, which saw new cladding and windows installed.
In a statement, the Sussex-based firm said it was shocked by the ‘devastating’ blaze, adding: ‘Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) on behalf of the council, which met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards.
The former chairman of the tenancy organisation connected to Grenfell Tower has described recent refurbishment work as a ‘disaster waiting to happen’.
The Tottenham MP said the fire amounted to ‘corporate manslaughter’ – although the cause has yet to be established.
Without identifying anyone he regarded as culpable, Mr Lammy pointed out that housing conditions in the capital were too often ‘unacceptable’ and urged the demolition of unsafe buildings.
‘These are poor Londoners but they are the lucky ones who are in social housing. Most of them will be the working poor in London,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Lammy went on: ‘We know as politicians that the conditions in this country are unacceptable.’
‘We built buildings in the 1970s, many of them should be demolished. It is totally unacceptable. People should be held to account.’
Families have begun the desperate search for loved ones that have gone missing after the huge inferno engulfed a tower block in west London.
Moments after cheating death and escaping Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, White City, relatives are now faced with the prospect of having to search for those who have gone missing during the ensuing chaos.
The Health and Safety Executive, the police and the fire service are now expected to launch a large-scale investigation and Rachel Adamson, Head of Regulatory Law at Stephensons law firm, said for an incident of this size it is very likely they will be considering criminal charges.
She told MailOnline: ‘Corporate manslaughter charges are often quite difficult to prove as they relate to the controlling mind of the business.
‘If an individual is thought to have been negligent, a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence may be considered.
‘There are a range of other potential charges, such as breach of fire regulations or breach of health and safety regulations, these are the tiers down from manslaughter.’
Investigators are expected to look at how recent renovation work was carried out, whether Construction Regulations have been adhered to, and what fire safety precautions were in place.
More than one resident has claimed that there was no central fire alarm system for the tower block – or it had failed – and only smoke alarms in individual flats were working.
There are also claims that there that there was no central sprinkler system – or it was also not working properly during the fire.
Others have claimed that the new cladding encasing the block added during last year’s £10million refurbishment by Rydon Construction caught alight ‘like a matchstick’.
Cladding is a material attached to a building’s frame to create an outer wall (shown in this graphic). The process of applying the rain-proof frontage can create a 25mm-30mm cavity between the cladding and the insulation behind it, shown between the first two layers
Checks are to be carried out on tower blocks going through similar refurbishment to Grenfell Tower, policing and fire minister Nick Hurd has said.
Special arrangements have been made for MPs to question a Government minister on the Grenfell Tower fire this afternoon.
MPs would normally expect to hear a ministerial statement on a tragedy of this scale in the House of Commons, but this is not possible because Parliament has not yet formally reopened following the snap election.
But Speaker John Bercow announced on Wednesday that a meeting with a minister would be arranged. It is due to take place at 1.30pm in the Commons’ secondary chamber, Westminster Hall.
Fire minister Nick Hurd is expected to make a statement and take questions from MPs.
Mr Bercow said on Wednesday that the meeting could be attended by “colleagues gravely concerned about this matter”, but that it would not be an official proceeding of Parliament. It was not immediately clear whether the session would be televised.
Cut price cladding added to tower blocks built in the 1970s could be to blame for the rapid spread of a fire which claimed the lives of at least 17 people
CLADDING WAS USED TO ‘IMPROVE THE APPEARANCE’ OF THE BLOCK OF FLATS
A planning document released by the council in 2014 said: ‘Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east.
‘The changes to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area.’
The document also makes repeated reference to the ‘appearance of the area’.
New plastic rain-proof cladding was installed at Grenfell Tower in White City, London, in May 2016 as part of a £10million refurbishment – but ‘went up like a match’ and helped the fire spread quickly from the fourth to 27th floor.
This evening it also was suggested that council penny pinching and accepting the lowest bid was to blame for the blaze according to one former worker.
Others said that the cladding chosen purely to make the block look ‘posher’.
The woman, who worked as a property manager for Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council for 20 years said the deadly blaze could have been prevented if the council had spent money upgrading it.
But Grenfell Tower, run by Tenant Management Organisation for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council, was not modernised during the employee’s two decades working in the property area of the authority.
Often fire alarms didn’t work and a new external fire escape was not installed because it would cost too much, she said.
She claimed new cladding fitted to the outside of the building last year caused the blaze to rip through the block because substandard and cheap materials were used in an effort to save cash.
She said: ‘They spent £1 million on cladding the outside of the building last year, and surveyors told the council not to use the cheapest possible materials, but they accepted the lowest possible bid.
‘The surveyors weren’t happy about it, but every time we brought it up with management they said ‘we hear you, but we simply can’t spend the money on upgrading the building’.
There are fears that that no one who lived on the top three residential floors may have survived the unprecedented fire
More than 600 residents desperately tried to escape the flames as the fire broke out in the middle of the night, with many woken by the screams of others and the smell of burning plastic
‘It was built in the 1970s and the council didn’t want to spend the money needed to bring it up to date because it would have cost so much money and taken so much work.