Grenfell: corporate manslaughter raised by police

31 July 2017

Image: Metropolitan Police

There are “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and its Tenant Management Organisation committed corporate manslaughter at Grenfell Tower, Scotland Yard announced last week.  

In a letter circulated to survivors of the fire, the force confirmed that officers had notified the council that they may be charged for their role in the blaze which left at least 80 people dead.  

The Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group said it hoped the statement was a “precursor” to individual arrests, adding: “Any arrests made will be seen by all those affected as tangible evidence that they are valued members of society and are being listened to.”  

Police do not have the power to arrest individuals under the offence of corporate manslaughter, but someone can face gross negligence manslaughter charges if a death may have been caused by an act or omission on their part.  

The relevant section of the letter says Met Police officers have “seized a huge amount of material and taken a large number of witness statements.”  

“After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007,” it said.  

The Met Police also released a statement last week, stating that its investigation into the cause and spread of the fire was a “complex and far reaching investigation that by its very nature will take a considerable time to complete.”  

The investigation into corporate manslaughter charges was welcomed by Unite, the country’s largest union.  

Unite, which is representing about 30 families affected by the tragedy, said that ‘people have to be accountable for their decisions’ in the run-up and aftermath of June’s fire.  

Unite assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett said: “Clearly people have to be held accountable if their decisions have caused deaths and, more so, if those decisions were made with the knowledge of the very real risks to lives.  

“We are representing close to 30 families now and we will represent our members in all legal forums, including an inquiry, inquest or to advise them in regard to whether anyone has criminal responsibility for this.  

“We welcome the continued police investigation that they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that both organisations may have committed an offence under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.”

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