1. ITV Report

Grenfell council sets aside £5 million for legal bills

By Rags Martel: ITV London reporter

Kensington and Chelsea could fork out more than £5 million on lawyers in the wake of the Grenfell fire, ITV News can reveal.

Figures quoted in the council's Executive Decision Report, show it has already spent £2.2 million on legal fees, as of 22 February 2018.

Tonight it will propose to add another £3,520,000 for the next financial year. That could bring the total legal bill to £5.7 million in the next two years - though the council insist they only plan to spend £4.7 million of it.

That figure includes £500,000 spent on specialist IT software providing legal documents to the Grenfell inquiry and Metropolitan Police investigation.

Installing fire-resistant cladding at Grenfell Tower would have cost just £5,000, it has been previously claimed.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Leadership Team will vote to pass the report, titled Legal Fees for Public Enquiry and Operation Northleigh Investigation, at a Town Hall meeting this evening.

This is not a court case. The council is not spending money on hiring a crack legal team to defend itself at all costs. We have no interest in defending anything at the inquiry, we are a public authority, and we want the truth.

Not only for the victims and the bereaved, but for the whole UK as we face up to issues of fire safety and safe housing right across the country.

We have to make hundreds of thousands of documents available for the inquiry and the police investigation for both to establish a conclusive view and deliver the truth. This takes time, it takes resources and it costs money.

– Kensington and Chelsea Council

Earlier, this week Kensington and Chelsea Council admitted spending almost £21 million keeping survivors in hotels.

Today the government criticised the council for the slow progress of rehousing Grenfell victims.

More than 9 months after the fire, less than a third have been permanently rehoused. They include 82 families still living in emergency accommodation.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid called on Kensington and Chelsea to speed up rehousing residents.

This is totally unacceptable, the suffering that these families have already endured is unimaginable. Living for this long in hotels can only make the process of grieving and recovery even harder.

– Sajid Javid, Housing Secretary