22 Sep Prime Minister will consider the appointment of further panel members to the Grenfell Inquiry
Following legal pre-action correspondence, the Prime Minister has confirmed that she will consider appointment of panel members to sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick on the Grenfell Inquiry and when doing so, she will have regard to her obligations under the Equality Act 2010.1
Shafika Ragab, who lost her nephew, Hesham Raham, in the fire, had sought to challenge the Prime Minister on the grounds that she had failed to exercise her powers to appoint further panel members and had not had regard to her Public Sector Equality Duty which required her to consider eliminating discrimination and fostering good relations between people of different races and religions. The majority of those affected by the Grenfell fire are of black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
The Inquiry has been beset by controversy about the narrowness of terms of reference and insufficient community involvement. Many family members and survivors have already expressed a lack of faith in the inquiry currently chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick alone and have called for additional members to be appointed to the inquiry panel.
Ms Ragab’s lawyers raised her concerns that the Prime Minister had failed to have due regard to her Equality Duty when deciding not to appoint additional panel members to the Grenfell Inquiry.
However, following correspondence with Ms Ragab’s lawyers, the Prime Minister has now confirmed that she will consider the appointment of additional panel members, and intends to do so after the Sir Martin has confirmed any assessors he requires to assist him on the technical aspects of the inquiry. The Prime Minister has specifically confirmed that she will have due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty when considering this matter.2
Mr Mussilhy, nephew of Hesham Raham and Ms Ragab’s grandson said:
“My grandmother, my family and others members of the community feel we have not been listened to. We were not listened to before the fire and without appointing additional panel members it seems we are still not being listened to. We are therefore glad the Prime Minister will consider the appointment of additional panel members taking into account her equality duties. We call on her to appoint members representative of the community so that we can have confidence that the inquiry will do its job and get to the truth.”
Clare Jennings of Matthew Gold & Co., solicitor for Ms Ragab said
“Our client is not alone in feeling let down and left out of the Inquiry so far. She has already faced an unimaginable loss. However we are glad that the Prime Minister has now positively confirmed that she intends to consider whether to appoint additional panel members after Sir Martin has decided on the appointment of technical assessors, and that she will ensure that that she has regard to her equality duties when she does so.
It is obviously important that the final make-up of the inquiry panel is finalised as close to the start of the Inquiry as possible. To that end we have written to Sir Martin today to ask that he urgently confirms the list of technical assessors he will be appointing, in order that the Prime Minister can get on with the fundamental job of considering the appointment of a balanced inquiry panel”.
Notes to editors:
- Ms Ragab is represented by Clare Jennings of Matthew Gold & Co, matthewgold.co.uk, 020 8445 9268 and is further advised by barristers Stephen Cragg QC and Nikolaus Grubeck at Monckton Chambers www.monckton.com.
- The Prime Minister is obliged under the Public Sector Equality Duty (s.149 Equality Act 2010), when carrying out her functions, to have due regard to eliminating discrimination, promoting equal opportunities and fostering good relations between those of different “protected characteristics” (which include race and religion). For more information see: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/public-sector-equality-duty.
- Under s8 Inquiries Act assessors may be appointed by an Inquiry Chair, in order to assist with complex technical issues. They have a very different role from panel members who sit alongside the Chair and co-author the Inquiry report, and who are appointed by the Prime Minister under sections 3 and 4 of the Inquiries Act. Many inquiries have a panel to ensure balance and a range of expertise and experience – see for example the panel of the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: https://www.iicsa.org.uk/