UK inquiry to examine Grenfell Tower fire but not broader social issues

The burnt Grenfell Tower apartment building stands testament to the recent fire in London, Friday, June 23, 2017. British officials have ordered an immediate examination Friday, into a fridge-freezer that is deemed to have started the fire in the 24-storey high-rise apartment building early morning of June 14th, and the outside cladding of the building which is thought to have helped spread the fire, according to police, leaving dozens dead.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein) Top News

A public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 80 people in June began on Tuesday with a mission to examine the cause of and response to the tragedy, but not broader issues such as social housing policy. The destruction of the 24-storey social housing block, home to a poor, multi-ethnic community, in an inferno that spread with terrifying speed in the middle of the night shocked the nation and raised public anger over social inequalities.

The inquiry, led by retired judge Martin Moore-Bick, was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May to show she wanted the truth about the disaster to emerge after her initial response was seen by survivors as slow and insensitive. Its terms of reference were published on Tuesday.

They are to examine the cause and spread of the fire, the design, construction and refurbishment of the tower, fire regulations relating to high-rise buildings, whether they were complied with at Grenfell Tower, and the actions of the authorities before and after the tragedy. Moore-Bick said the inquiry would not delve into broader issues such as social housing policy and the relationship between the community and the authorities, even though many local people wanted it to.

He said this was because it would take too long when there was a need for the inquiry to quickly identify safety issues that may be putting lives at risk in other tower blocks. He also said the broader issues would raise political questions that would not be best addressed by a judge-led inquiry.

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