Campaign begins fight in High Court over ‘failure’ to implement Grenfell inquiry

Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block in London
Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block in West London Credit: PA

A campaign group has begun a High Court fight after complaining about a Government “failure” to implement Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations relating to people living in high-rise flats who have disabilities. Claddag has raised concerns relating to recommendations that owners of high-rise residential buildings should prepare “personal emergency evacuation plans” for people with disabilities. Lawyers representing the group on Tuesday asked a High Court judge to quash a decision “not to implement” recommendations. Mrs Justice Stacey is considering arguments at a High Court hearing in London due to end later this week. Lawyers representing ministers dispute claims made against the Government. Barrister Raj Desai, who is representing Claddag – and two individual claimants – told the judge that 72 people had following the outbreak of the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14 2017. He said those who died were “disproportionately persons with disabilities” whose “ability to self-evacuate was compromised”.

In a written case outline, Mr Desai told the judge: “In each and every such case, there was no plan or arrangement in place to either assist such residents to evacuate or share relevant information with the fire and rescue service to facilitate their rescue.” He said legal duties mandating owners and managers of high-rise residential buildings to prepare emergency evacuation plans for residents whose ability to self-evacuate “may be compromised” had been recommended.

Mr Desai argued that a decision had been made not to implement “these recommendations”. He added: “The claimants seek… an order quashing the decision not to implement the… recommendations.” Mr Desai told the judge: “Grenfell Tower, in common with the preponderance of purpose-built blocks of flats, had a stay-put strategy. “A stay-put strategy is premised on the construction of the building, which is intended to have the capacity to resist the spread of fire for designated periods of time through compartmentation.” He added: “The evidence heard by the inquiry has revealed that the stay-strategy has often been mischaracterised or misunderstood as either obviating altogether the need for residents to evacuate, or as restricting the need to evacuate in situations where a fire is in a resident’s flat or a situation of total failure of building compartmentation.” Mr Desai said evidence showed there were “always” people who “must evacuate”. Claddag has thanked people who helped raise money to fund the legal fight. “We launched a crowdfund appeal to help us raise funds to protect ourselves against adverse costs should our legal challenge against the Government over its failure to implement key Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations be unsuccessful,” said a statement on the group’s website. “We are thrilled to say we have raised over £21,500.”

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