A survivors’ group has welcomed a report on the Grenfell Tower fire, calling for the government to treat its response as “a national emergency”.
The report, published on Wednesday, followed the first phase of an inquiry, looking at what happened on the night of 14 June 2017, when 72 people died.
It was critical of the London Fire Brigade’s response and said the tower did not meet building regulations.
The LFB said it was “disappointed” by some of the criticism of individuals.
Campaign group Grenfell United said the report showed “the immediate and real dangers” of “highly combustible cladding and insulation”.
“Lives are at risk and the government need to treat this as a national emergency,” the group said.
The report made 46 recommendations, including improvements in training for fire brigade staff and the development of national guidelines for evacuating high-rise buildings.
Grenfell United called for the recommendations to be implemented in full, saying they would save lives.
The report condemned the LFB for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the fire.
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission” by the LFB and more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.
Grenfell United responded: “It is heartbreaking to read that more of our loved ones could have been saved that night if the building was evacuated earlier.”
At an emotional press conference, relatives of 20 victims of the fire called for an overhaul of the LFB, saying its leadership should resign and even face prosecution.
Nazanin Aghlani, who lost two family members in the fire, said some firefighters displayed a “serious lack of common sense” and failed to see “what was so vivid in front of them”.
“If a fire happened tonight the same thing would happen again,” she said.
‘Too little too late’
The report said evidence from London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton that she would not have changed anything about the brigade’s response was “insensitive”.
Ms Cotton said many of the recommendations were welcome and would be “carefully considered”.
She expressed her “deepest sorrow at not being able to save all those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire”.
She added: “We welcome the chairman’s recognition of the courage, commitment and bravery of firefighters on the night, but we are disappointed at some of the criticism of individual staff members who were placed in completely unprecedented circumstances and faced the most unimaginable conditions while trying to save the lives of others.”
However, Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of Grenfell United who was rescued with her six-year-old daughter from the 11th floor, said Dany Cotton’s statement was “too little too late”.
“She stood up in the inquiry, in a room full of bereaved and survivors and said there’s nothing she would do to change that night,” she told the BBC.
“If she’d expressed that sorrow that day in that room, that potentially would have washed with us today.”
Grenfell United expressed concern at the report’s finding that the LFB were “at risk of not learning the lessons from Grenfell”, adding that firefighters were “let down by their training, procedures, equipment and leadership”.
Other issues highlighted in the report included:
- A lack of training in how to “recognise the need for an evacuation or how to organise one”
- Incident commanders “of relatively junior rank” being unable to change strategy
- Control room officers lacking training on when to advise callers to evacuate
- An assumption that crews would reach callers, resulting in “assurances which were not well founded”
- Communication between the control room and those on the ground being “improvised, uncertain and prone to error”
- A lack of an organised way to share information within the control room, meaning officers had “no overall picture of the speed or pattern of fire spread”
In the House of Commons, MPs held a minutes’ silence to remember victims of the fire, before a debate on the inquiry.
Boris Johnson told MPs that survivors and the bereaved had been “overlooked and ignored” before the fire and “shamefully failed” afterwards.
The second phase of the inquiry will focus on wider circumstances of the fire, including the design of the building.
While this was not the focus of the first phase, the report found there was “compelling evidence” external walls of the building failed to comply with building regulations and “actively promoted” the spread of fire.
It said the principal reason the flames shot up the building so fiercely was the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”.
Grenfell United said the second phase of the inquiry “must now focus on where responsibility for the devastating refurbishment [of the building] lies”, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the tenant management organisation and the companies involved facing “serious questions”.
A killer once dubbed one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed for at least 26 years.
Shane O’Brien, 31, evaded police for three-and-a-half years after he slashed Josh Hanson’s neck in Hillingdon, west London, on 11 October 2015.
He fled the UK, changed his appearance and moved around Europe before his extradition from Romania in April.
O’Brien, who jurors found guilty of murder last month, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.
CCTV released during the trial showed 21-year-old Mr Hanson clutching his neck and stumbling as blood poured out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound.
‘Abrupt, vicious, violent’
After the killing, jurors heard, O’Brien was seen “calmly” walking out of the bar.
He made his way to Ashford, Kent, where a contact had chartered a private four-seater plane to take him to the Netherlands.
The killer grew a beard and long hair and changed his tattoos as he travelled through countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the court was told.
In 2017, the father-of-two was arrested over a dispute in a Prague nightclub but gave police a false name and fled while on bail.
The trial heard the 31-year-old was added to Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists but still managed to lay low.
However, he was eventually caught by Romanian authorities after he contacted Scotland Yard to arrange a possible meeting, the jury heard.
Sentencing the father-of-two, Judge Nigel Lickley QC called it “a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man”.
“The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason,” he said.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey described her son as being “considerate, kind and generous”.
“He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently,” she said.
The victim’s sister, Brooke, said the 21-year-old “was not just my brother, he was my best friend”, and described his “infectious smile” and “magical presence”.
She told the court she had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress since the killing and found herself always wondering if she could have protected him from the “evil” that took him away.
During the trial, O’Brien had claimed he felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” and had only meant to scare his victim.
There were angry shouts of “coward” from the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.
A 15-year-old has been charged with conspiring to murder a schoolboy who was stabbed to death in the street.
Baptista Adjei, also 15, from North Woolwich, was attacked on Stratford Broadway, east London, on 10 October.
Police have charged another 15-year-old boy with murder, GBH and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon.
The latest suspect will appear at Stratford Youth Court later, Scotland Yard said.
Some 50 households had to stay in emergency accommodation overnight after a burst water main flooded homes in north London.
About 250 properties including two schools were affected after a 36-inch (91cm) water pipe fractured in Finsbury Park before 08:00 BST on Tuesday.
One man was rescued from a basement while others had to be led to safety.
Thames Water said a temporary fix had been put in place and all flood water had been pumped away.
The water main burst at the junction of Queens Drive and Princess Crescent causing an area measuring about 600m x 200m (1,900ft x 650ft) to be flooded to a depth of about 1m (3ft).
About 12 fire engines and 80 firefighters were deployed to help rescue people and pump water away, while postcode areas N1, N4, N5, N7 and N19 were left with no water or low water pressure.
Tanja Schnitzer, who lives in a basement flat on Queens Drive, said rooms in the property had filled up with water “within half an hour from floor to ceiling”.
“It’s devastating. We’ve pretty much lost everything,” she said.
Water supplies for most properties in the area have been restored but Thames Water said air locks in the system meant some residents were still experiencing problems.
A spokesman for the firm said bottled water and plumbers were on standby in case of issues while engineers would finish fixing the mains during the day.
Woodberry Down Primary School remains shut but Parkwood Primary School has reopened.
Queens Drive, between Brownswood Road and Seven Sisters Road, has been closed to traffic.
Banksy has opened a “pop-up” shop in south London featuring the stab vest he designed for Stormzy’s headline act at the Glastonbury Festival.
A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon.
“I’m opening a shop today,” the artist said on Instagram. “Although the doors don’t actually open.”
A man stabbed to death at a London Underground station was an Arsenal fan on his way to a match, the BBC has been told.
Tashan Daniel, 20, was was killed in an “unprovoked attack” on the platform at Hillingdon station on Tuesday.
He had been heading to the Emirates Stadium to see the Gunners face Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Carabao Cup, a source said.
It is the third murder investigation on the Tube network this year.
No arrests have been made over the attack, which Det Supt Gary Richardson described as “a shocking act of violence”.
He said the British Transport Police (BTP) investigation was in its “early stages”.
“We believe a group of young men were involved in an altercation on the platform before one of the men received a fatal stab wound,” he said.
Police and paramedics were called to the station in west London at 15:57 BST.
An air ambulance was also sent to Hillingdon, but Mr Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Danielle Foster, who was driving past Hillingdon station at the time of the stabbing, said upon “hearing so many sirens, I knew something terrible had happened”.
“Lots of people were being turned away from the station as it had been closed,” she said, adding: “Then the police helicopter began circling the scene.”
Hillingdon station was closed by Transport for London (TfL) while police searched the area.
The station was closed for the rest of Tuesday evening and reopened at 05:45 this morning.
So far in 2019 more than 100 murder investigations have been launched across London by the Metropolitan Police and BTP.
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne has been banned from driving for 12 months after he admitted speeding.
He pleaded guilty at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court to driving at 47mph in a 40mph zone in a hired Jaguar car in Kensington last August.
The 50-year-old, who was not in court for the hearing, already had 15 penalty points on his licence for five speeding offences from April 2016.
He was also ordered to pay a total of £1,845 to the court.
Deputy District Judge Adrian Turner told the court: “It may well be that none on its own were particularly serious but for points disqualification purposes the triviality of the offences is not to be taken into account.
“A period of 12 months is necessary for the purposes I have mentioned.”
Warne, of Little Venice, west London, is regarded as one of the best spin bowlers in cricket history and took 708 wickets in 145 Tests over his career.
He was ordered to pay £775 in costs, fined £900, and must pay a surcharge of £170.
A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of a man who was stabbed to death on a north-west London street.
Meshach Williams, 21, died in hospital hours after he was attacked in High Street, Harlesden, on 23 April.
The Met Police said the boy was due to appear at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.
Three men, aged 19, 18 and 24, have previously been charged in connection with Mr Williams’s death. They are due to go on trial in November.
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A woman has been rescued after a fire ripped through a block of flats in east London.
The blaze broke out at the building on Harry Zeital Way in Clapton at 22:40 BST on Monday.
Resident Soyeb Isralia said it started on a downstairs balcony but spread to the upper floors “within two minutes”.
It destroyed balconies from the ground to the fifth floor, along with part of a flat on the fifth floor and a section of the roof.
London Fire Brigade said nobody was injured and the cause of the fire was under investigation.
Mr Isralia said he was in the bath when he heard people shouting about the fire, so he grabbed a towel and evacuated the building.
“We saw the downstairs balcony on fire and within two minutes the flames went all the way up to the fourth floor.
“Everything just exploded after that,” he said.
The blaze was brought under control by 01:40 and firefighters will remain at the scene throughout the morning