TravelGuides – Grenfell landlord boss told colleague to ‘do nothing’ over fire safety fears | Grenfell Tower inquiry

TravelGuides – Grenfell landlord boss told colleague to ‘do nothing’ over fire safety fears | Grenfell Tower inquiry

The chief government of Grenfell Tower’s landlord physique told colleagues to ignore a resident who warned eight months earlier than the fire that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord”.

Robert Black, who led the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation, told a colleague with accountability for fire safety “we should do nothing” after Ed Daffarn, a sixteenth flooring resident, posted a weblog in November 2016 which predicted “only an incident that results in serious loss of life … will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation”.

At the general public inquiry into the 14 June 2017 catastrophe which claimed 72 lives, Black was requested about an e-mail from his colleague Barbara Matthews after the Grenfell Action Group weblog publish – titled “KCTMO – Playing with fire”. She told colleagues: “I have spoken to Robert and he agrees that we should do nothing. This is not the sort of website we should be responding to.”

“I can’t recall the conversation, but if Barbara said I did [say do nothing] then I did,” Black told counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC. The inquiry has beforehand heard that one other TMO government, Peter Maddison, dismissed the weblog as “scare mongering” and sought recommendation on whether or not it was libellous.

Black, who stated he struggled to have a relationship with Daffarn, told the inquiry he felt the weblog was “not all true” and “it makes up certain things”.

Robert Black
Robert Black, the previous chief government of the Kensington and Chelsea TMO, stated ‘this is not the sort of website we should be responding to’. Photograph: Grenfell Tower Inquiry/PA

The inquiry additionally heard that residents with considerations have been routinely approaching their councillor, Judith Blakeman and Daffarn moderately than the TMO in whom many had misplaced belief. Millett requested if this was indicative of a common drawback with the landlord’s complaints course of.

“I didn’t really ever have a relationship with Mr Daffarn and I think it’s quite difficult for lots of people … trying to build a relationship with Mr Daffarn,” he stated. “I don’t want to personalise this.”

Black’s signed witness assertion to the inquiry in February 2019 stated: “I do not recall having any direct personal interaction with any Grenfell resident groups or forums in relation to any complaints they may have had and I am not aware of any having been made in relation to fire safety at Grenfell Tower.”

But he had to right this written proof.

“You had petitions with large numbers of signatures in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2017 all on the subject of safety and specifically fire safety,” stated Millett. “Did that … not … prompt the question in your own mind something is wrong with fire safety at Grenfell, these residents don’t feel safe?”

Black replied that two of the petitions have been began within the wake of issues with utility firms – relating to an electrical energy surge and the repositioning of fuel pipes via hallways throughout the refurbishment that residents feared may explode in a fire. The councillor for the Grenfell space, Blakeman, additionally raised fire safety points with Black in 2012, 2013, 2015 and March 2017, three months earlier than the fire.

Asked if the buildup of complaints led him to query if fire safety was being managed correctly at Grenfell he replied “no” and stated the complaints all associated to various things.

Throughout his cross-examination he repeatedly stated he couldn’t recall occasions throughout his time as chief government from 2009 to 2017. Over the primary two days alone he stated he “can’t remember” or “can’t recall” 150 occasions, in accordance to the revealed transcripts.

Millett requested if there was something that he would have completed in a different way.

“It’s been incredibly difficult to look back over such a long period and remember everything,” Black stated. “I wish sometimes my answers may have been clearer so I apologise for that. I certainly wouldn’t have put the cladding on if I knew that situation and I think I can only pass my condolences to the people who lost loved ones and survived and managed to escape and there’s not much more I can say at the moment.”

The inquiry continues.

TravelGuides – Grenfell landlord boss told colleague to ‘do nothing’ over fire safety fears | Grenfell Tower inquiry