'Nothing has changed': Grenfell survivor warns of another tragedy if government fails to act

A survivor of the Grenfell fire tells ITV News Correspondent Rags Martel "so little has changed" and he is still waiting for the "clinking of handcuffs".

A survivor of the Grenfell fire has told ITV News that "nothing has changed" as he warned another disaster on the same scale was likely if recommendations highlighted by a long-running public inquiry into the tragedy were ignored.

Edward Daffarn, who lived on the 16th floor of the tower block, said that while the years-long inquiry had exposed those culpable, he wants to see the people "responsible for killing 72 innocent lives go to jail".

"Five and a half years after Grenfell, there hasn't been a single arrest of the core participants - of the people who perpetrated this atrocity against our community," he said.

"We need to see people go to jail for the crimes they committed," he added.

His comments come as a public inquiry, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, into the fire at the residential tower block in North Kensington in June 2017 which killed 72 people, drew to a close.

The inquiry panel was told to make powerful recommendations so the blaze marks “a turning point in building safety”.

"What we've learned is that little has changed in the five and half years since the Grenfell Tower fire" - Edward Daffarn says more lives are at risk without real action

Describing the government as "probably the biggest culprit of them all", Mr Daffarn said that despite the "deregulation, corporate greed, institutionalised indifference" exposed during the inquiry, "nothing has really substantially changed". "Despite a promise from Boris Johnson in October 2019 that legislation regarding fire safety will be enacted, there are still people, disabled people, sleeping in high rise buildings who have no protection, or the exactly the same protection they had, five years ago, against fire."

Phase two of the inquiry examined how the tower came to be coated in flammable materials that contributed to the spread of flames, which shot up the building.

In November 2016, Mr Daffarn and fellow blogger Francis O’Connor warned that “only a catastrophic event” resulting in serious loss of life would bring an end to the “dangerous living conditions” in the block.

Giving evidence to the inquiry in April 2021, Mr Daffarn, who lived in the west London tower block from 2001, said the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) had a monopoly on social housing in the borough and said the landlords acted like “a mini-mafia”.

He had never believed the KCTMO was capable of keeping tenants safe, claiming staff at the organisation believed residents should be grateful to them and had labelled him a “troublemaker”.

During his testimony, Mr Daffarn described the tenant management body as a “non-functioning organisation” driven by “pure self-interest”.

On the inquiry's penultimate day, the council apologised “unreservedly” for the ways in which it failed the residents of the high-rise building, as it stressed that the current national fire and building safety system was “too broken to be fixed by minor changes”.

Despite his damning verdict, Mr Daffarn said he believed the inquiry had been worth it.

Edward Daffarn speaking to the Grenfell Inquiry

"For me, it's really important that we get the truth, that we get justice, and by that I mean people in handcuffs and that the perpetrators that are responsible for killing 72 innocent lives face justice, go to jail.

"But along with that we need change. There are still buildings with combustible cladding on. People living in social housing are being mistreated as badly now as they were before the fire."

"It's gone on for too long with too little change," he said.

As the inquiry drew to a close, Mr Daffarn warned that without real change, there will be another Grenfell, adding that his "one hope" from the inquiry was that the government would act on recommendations put forward.

The public inquiry into the disaster has already concluded cladding accelerated the flames Credit: PA

He told ITV News that if recommendations had been acted upon after the July 2008 Lakanal House tower block fire in Camberwell that killed six people, "we wouldn't be sitting here now having this conversation".

"It's vitally important that whatever recommendations are made, that the government act on them, but my concern is that they won't and that in five or 10 years time, there'll be another Grenfell-type disaster that could have been prevented," Mr Daffarn said.

He said the government is "playing a game of Russian roulette".

"I think it is pure luck that they've got away with it up until this point."

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A DLUHC spokesperson said: "The Grenfell Tower tragedy must never be allowed to happen again, and we remain absolutely committed to helping the Inquiry get to the truth.

“It is unacceptable that there are still building owners who are yet to make homes safe from cladding and we will not hesitate to use powers under the Building Safety Act to pursue them.

“We are continuing to play our part – accelerating the work of the Building Safety Fund – to speed up the remediation of the country’s most at-risk buildings.”