#Grenfell: why was #GoldCommand covertly there on day 1?

grenfell tribute wall.png
A section of the Grenfell Tower tribute wall

Apart from the terrible tragedy of lost lives, injuries and homeless survivors, two things stand out above all from the Grenfell Tower fire and its aftermath: the incredible response of local (and not so local) people to help the survivors and the absolute incompetence – initially even absence – of the local council or any help from other authorities.

The response of the local Kensington and Chelsea Borough council (RBKC) was so woeful, even several days after the fire, that the emergency ‘Gold Command’ response unit – headed controversially by the CEO of the ‘unaccountable‘ City of London authority – was eventually brought in to replace it.

However, it now appears that the authorities may have had a presence on the ground very early – but not in a way that the local people appreciate.

A community centre at the heart of the people’s response to the tragedy became a key location for the collection and distribution of supplies and food to survivors, families and helpers. The lady who runs the centre – who has asked for neither to be named – spoke to the SKWAWKBOX about incidents with potentially sinister undertones:

On the morning of the fire, people just started to arrive with all kinds of stuff to help. We were run off our feet and there were lots of people, many of whom we didn’t know. There was a charity worker helping, who also ended up acting as a liaison with the council and one particular young woman who was always around during the first few days but never introduced herself. We just thought she was a volunteer like everybody else.

Some time later, the charity guy went to a meeting with the council and when he came back he told me that the young woman who’d been around from early on the first morning had also been at the meeting – and introduced herself as representing Gold Command.

What’s that about? If she was there on behalf of Gold Command to help, why didn’t she introduce herself? Why stay covert like that?

It’s worrying, especially in the context of other things going on, like armed police patrolling just after the fire. Survivors at the various hotels – who already feel like they’ve been dispersed to make it harder for them to get together – all say they’re constantly being watched by someone, from Gold, from the council, the government? we don’t know – who sits there with a laptop keeping an eye on them.

They say it feels oppressive, like they’re under surveillance. So you’ve got to wonder why that woman was here for two whole days without declaring herself.

These observations become even more troubling when you remember that Gold Command was not triggered or brought in during these very early hours and days after the fire – it was only over the weekend, Sunday as far as can be ascertained, after the fire (which happened on a Wednesday) that the council was removed from the equation and the Gold Command ‘coalition’ was brought in.

These events, together with the beginning of Hillsborough-like victim-blaming by the Establishment, have increased the sense of oppression felt by survivors and their neighbours, fuelling the distrust of authority that has led to the Justice for Grenfell group threatening to boycott the government’s judge-led inquiry that will not examine the wider context of the blaze and which they fear will simply be a mechanism for a cover-up.

Gold Command has not been reachable for comment.

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  1. This is starting to feel like some Kafkaesque ‘pilot scheme’ for the privatisation of local authorities. Sickening.

  2. Was she MI5 or Police Gold Command. Sounds like they was expecting trouble before the fire even to been there so early as if they knew it was going to happen before it hasppen. was there unwriten plans for this tower block one ask one self, the amount of development going on in the area, this tower block was in the way.

  3. If Grenfell survivors have serious concerns about the identities or motives of people involved in the relief effort – especially if they feel they are being surveilled, in what sounds like an intentionally coercive manner – I suggest they use their own recording devices to catalogue those involved so that a proper accounting can be made at a later date.

    Because, hey, nothing to hide, right?

    On another note, I can’t find the recent SKWAWKBOX article that detailed a survivor group fronted by an unknown man ‘in a hat’ and a police officer who was the only person named on the agenda. Invitation letters were apparently approved by the council for delivery. Does this ring any bells?

    A photograph of the man in question might have been a great help in unravelling that mystery to its source.

    If you are in touch with any Grenfell survivors, they would be well advised to maximise their own collection of evidence by keeping diaries and taking their on photographs and videos of significant events / people.

    If they do, there is a greater chance that others will be able to help them if they are taken advantage and, arguably, less chance that they will be taken advantage of if they have their own store of evidence.

    1. Hi, re that so called survivors support meeting, there was an article about the mystery in the guardian.

  4. It’s worth posting this again. As CEO of Brighton, John Baradell issued more gags than any of his fellow 345 council CEOs in England between 2009 and 2011. A total of 76 people including 4 senior directors were silenced and paid off.

    Whatever the reason for choosing the City of London to assume primacy, Baradell has form.

    This can be seen in its full glory here within a wide ranging survey of compromise agreements containing gagging clauses:


    Yes, I can see what the Tory thinking is here… “Let’s choose a safe pair of hands.”

    1. Excellent information, excellent work, please keep it up!

      Outside of the fire and rescue services, the council and government response to Grenfell has been a pantomime creepshow from the outset. The CoL / Barradell connection is part and parcel of that creepshow.

  5. Or, assuming that this story isn’t just more anonymous tittle tattle à la D Notice story ( someone told someone who told someone…), it could be that the young lady was helping out as a volunteer in the early hours, but happened to work for an organisation which became part of Gold Command when it was established.

    Occam’s razor springs to mind.

    (And ALL the people in hotels feel they’re being watched by people with laptops – all the time? only in common areas of the hotels? all the common areas? when they go out? When they’re in bed? Has Skwawkbox spoken to every one? Has no one managed to capture just one of these people on a mobile phone camera? There are some fairly vocal survivors; cannot one be found to repeat this on TV or radio?)

    1. People whose residences have been destroyed by fire don’t have photographic and recording capable equipment.
      It’s been destroyed by fire .

      1. The allegation is that they’re all being watched. Even assuming that no one accommodated in a hotel still has their phone, surely members of the various support groups who weren’t residents have phones.

        And the point about telling TV their stories remains valid.

    2. Tory troll alert pay no attention to this troll .Its only goal is to subvert the truth

    3. So, by that (your) logic, are those who were molested by pederasts not victims because they didn’t directly tell the media themselves?

      People speak to those they feel they can trust – Those victims have had more than ample reason to distrust both the media AND the tory authority.

      Ever thought that’s why there’s plenty of second-hand info coming out?

      Although living in your bubble you just don’t, and never will, get it. It must all be lies then eh? Every word reported that was not uttered by a victim in front of a camera, and on oath….Idiot

      What next – will they have to report to you personally? You arrogant, supercilious uppity two-hat.

      1. As one example this gentleman doesn’t appear shy. He’s been quoted in the Guardian, The Telegraph, The BBC and the Independent on other matters, as well as appearing on C4 News.


      2. ONE example….ONE

        How many survivors & victims were there, again?

        It’s the same faces you see on the box. Those with the confidence (or what have you) to actually speak their piece.
        Plenty of people are still grieving; their heads are up their arses for complete & utter fuck’s sake – Are you THAT detached from reality?

        You’ll be saying everyone disabled’s defrauding the state because they’re all fucking paralympian athletes on the sly, next.

        You are an arrogant, indifferent fucking imbecile. @Skwawkbox PLEASE ban this fucking bellend.

  6. Yet another attempt at a reasonable discussion descends into foul language and abuse.

    I guess I’ll The Toffee on the next thread – can’t say I’m looking forward to it!

    1. Seriously….You’d best hope you don’t ever meet me.

      Why don’t you go to a Grenfell meeting and make clear your views to them…

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