The eight months since the terrible tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire have been marked by a number of troubling aspects to the Establishment’s handling of the fire and its aftermath.
Long before ‘Gold command’ was brought in to manage the effort to help survivors and others affected by the blaze, Gold command personnel were on the scene – almost immediately after the fire – posing as ordinary volunteers without identifying themselves.
Some of the media attempted to demonise survivors and supporters as a mob when they expressed their frustration at broken promises – promises still unkept, as only a fraction of the survivors have been rehomed eight months after the fire, when Theresa May promised all would have new homes within three weeks.
Requests by Grenfell groups for a diverse panel alongside the judge leading the public inquiry were denied – and remain denied, leading to a petition signed by, so far, almost 150,000 people calling on Theresa May to act.
And the existence of the public inquiry – instead of the inquest that families wanted – has led Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad to describe the inquiry as ‘pre-determined’.
But one troubling aspect of the aftermath of the tragedy has, so far, remained unmarked by the media – the existence of a Grenfell group that appears to have nothing to do with Grenfell survivors or the surrounding community and whose behaviour has genuine campaigners worried that it exists to undermine and discredit them.
Grenfell Tower UK – or, as it called itself at first, Grenfell Tower Global.
The account has raised red flags since its inception – for example, it claims to have been ‘first on the scene’ – but bizarrely combines that hashtag with ‘#SaturdayMorning’:
The fire took place on a Wednesday.
So strange has the conduct of the account – and of others seemingly run by the same people – that the main challenge in writing this article has been choosing from the mass of bizarre evidence the best images to illustrate it, because including all of it would be virtually unreadable.
The changing nature of ‘who we are’
The account originally presented itself as a bona fide local group that had lost friends in the fire:
But when this was challenged, it claimed to represent sympathetic people from ‘greater London’ – while making an almost unintelligible excuse for why it couldn’t/wouldn’t demonstrate any connections with people local to the Tower:
‘All volunteers of the UK’ – except for the ‘New York Team’?
The account has claimed that all the people behind it are ‘UK volunteers’:
However, the account also claimed to have a ‘New York team‘ – while blustering bizarrely to try to deter any challenge to its authenticity:
Grenfell Tower Global/UK had a website – grenfelltower.org.uk – that has gone offline. But its initial registration appeared suspicious:
The reference to ‘Harrow Club’ was a slip by Joe Delaney – in fact, the site was originally registered to ‘Rugby Portobello Trust‘, but later changed to ‘Grenfell Tower’
The question it won’t answer
The person or people behind the account seem desperate to avoid answering any questions about their supposed connections to local people. As well as the ‘undisclosed sources’ comment above, many messages and tweets react defensively to any attempt to establish further information – including a response to an enquiry by BBC personnel:
But when challenged, they switch quickly to abuse:
The appeals to Twitter
Yet it makes strange appeals to Twitter support to ‘protect’ it:
The ‘black hole’ emails
The account has published the website address and several email addresses – but the website, currently offline, had next to no content and emails sent by the SKWAWKBOX remain unanswered:
The Wikipedia ‘hijack’
The people behind the account have tried to insert themselves into Grenfell Tower’s Wikipedia entry to gain legitimacy- but appear to be naive about how Wikipedia works and how the attempt can be traced by to them:
The account tried to enhance its appearance of legitimacy via bizarre browbeating of genuine Grenfell figures:
and has made responses to seemingly random tweets on unconnected topics by, for example, Labour politicians to demand their support.
Back in action – at a convenient time
After a short period of silence, the account has become active again in the last few days – coinciding with the surge of renewed public interest caused by grime artist Stormzy’s Grenfell-related rap at the Brit awards and his appeal for people to sign the Grenfell petition mentioned at the top of this article – and still abusing genuine survivors and campaigners:
But why are they doing all this? It’s hard to be sure. There may be some plan for financial gain by association with the globally-known tragedy, as a tweet about marketing collaborators may suggest:
But Grenfell survivors and their fellow campaigners are convinced that the account has been set up to divert attention and resources from the genuine group – and probably to discredit genuine Grenfell campaigners by bizarre behaviour and trolling.
With the surge of re-awakened interest in the Grenfell Tower tragedy and survivors created by Stormzy’s shows of support and his challenges to the Establishment to step up and provide the help Theresa May promised, it’s essential that awareness of what may be a damaging ‘trojan horse’ becomes widespread.
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