The news channels and social media are still, rightly, full of footage of the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington and its aftermath. As the SKWAWKBOX showed on Wednesday, there are serious questions to answer about the design of the building and its fire alarm system – and the actions of the Tories, including former mayor and now Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is hotly tipped as the party’s next leader.
Johnson betrayed a lack of concern and seriousness about the safety of Londoners from fire when, in 2013, he scoffed at London Assembly Members’ worries about the impact of his cuts to the number of fire stations and firefighters – going so far as to tell one AM to ‘get stuffed’ for questioning him (video).
The news media are rightly reporting the warnings issued by the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) blog that its warnings about the dangers of the building would only be heeded when a disaster occurred.
But what they are not reporting is that the Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council threatened the GAG with legal action if it did not delete its posts criticising the performance of the council and its officers for their actions/inaction concerning the risks.
The council’s senior solicitor sent this intimidating letter to a Mr O’Connor of the GAG blog in 2013:
The SKWAWKBOX cannot comment on the accuracy of the letter’s claims in terms of the statements made by the GAG blog, but it is of deeply troubling that the council seems to have wanted to silence a group pleading for action to secure the safety of hundreds of people in a tower block, rather than take its concerns seriously and work with the residents toward a solution.
The terrible tragedy of this morning puts beyond doubt that those concerns were justified – and this letter raises further serious questions about the events that led up to this completely avoidable disaster.
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