‘London Grenfell fire disaster was murder’


Deen Riders bikers’ ‘Honour Ride for Grenfell’ applauded after the Silent March on Saturday 14th April, ten months after the inferno

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

GRENFELL FIRE WAS MURDER

A LEAKED ‘interim document’ into the Grenfell Tower disaster on June 14, 2017 shows beyond shadow of a doubt that every death was preventable, and survivors are demanding that all those responsible be put on trial for murder.

The 210-page interim document, by fire investigation experts BRE Global, was produced to assist the Metropolitan police in their investigation. If the refurbishment had not taken place, which installed cheap flammable cladding on the Grenfell Tower, the report states, the fire would not have spread beyond the flat (Flat 16) in which it started.

The shoddy refurbishment, done on the cheap meant that there were gaps between the cladding and the concrete, which created a tunnel of air that fed the flames. The result was a catastrophic chimney-like effect, which ‘provided a route for fire spread’.

The report exposes that the flammable cladding, flammable insulation, gaps between the cladding and the concrete, misfitting window frames, missing door closers, no space for fire engines to approach the building, no sprinkler system, and a single narrow stairwell, all contributed to turning the Grenfell Tower into a fire trap and the deaths of so many men, women and children.

The report, dated January 31st 2018, says: ‘Grenfell Tower, as originally built, appears to have been designed on the premise of providing very high levels of passive fire protection. The original facade of Grenfell Tower, comprising exposed concrete and, given its age, likely timber or metal frame windows, would not have provided a medium for fire spread up the external surface. In BRE’s opinion … there would have been little opportunity for a fire in a flat of Grenfell Tower to spread to any neighbouring flats.’

During the 2014-16 refurbishment ‘cavity barriers’ were installed specially designed to stop the chimney effect. These expand in the event of fire and seal the gaps between the concrete surface of the building. However, they were the wrong size and some were installed upside down or back to front.

The window frames were ‘significantly narrower than the gap between the concrete surfaces of the columns, 150mm narrower’, leaving large gaps at either end. The result was ‘a direct route for fire spread around the window frame into the cavity of the facade … and from the facade back into flats.’

The draft report was submitted to the Metropolitan Police Service, and BRE was asked to achieve three aims: ‘To establish the circumstances surrounding as many deaths resulting from the fire as possible; ‘To establish any failings of duty of care owed to victims of the fire, both fatalities and surviving residents; ‘To provide expert witness support in relation to any criminal prosecution, public inquiry or inquest.’

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Big anti-Syria war demonstration in London


Anti-Syria war demonstrators, London, 16 April 2018

By Marcus Barnett and Lamiat Sabin in London, England, Tuesday, April 17, 2018:

Anti-war protesters urge returning MPs to stop bombing Syria

THOUSANDS of anti-war demonstrators greeted politicians returning to Parliament this evening by urging them to stop bombing Syria.

Assembling on Parliament Square, protesters mobilised at 72 hours’ notice for the demonstration to oppose US-led forces attacking Syria.

The action, which was organised by the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), followed a weekend of emergency demonstrations held across more than 30 different cities in Britain, following the announcement that British forces were launching military attacks in Syria.

The crowd expressed rage that the government had acted without the authorisation of Parliament, with demonstrators accusing PM Theresa May of bypassing the vote for fear of handing a massive political victory to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn if the vote was to fall.

Ray Mercer, a retired aerospace worker, told the Star: “The fact Trump and May started bombing Syria the morning chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the country tells you all you need to know.

“After the disaster in Iraq, have we learnt nothing?

“We need international pressure and negotiations, not Western interference pretending to be humanitarian.”

Meanwhile, speakers from the labour and anti-war movements pointed out that merely 22 per cent of the population support war with Syria, and that a YouGov poll conducted this weekend saying that only 36 per cent of the population have backed Ms May on her latest action.

This sentiment was echoed by Labour MPs Richard Burgon, Emma Dent-Coad, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Chris Williamson, alongside war veteran Ben Griffin and peace activist Bruce Kent.

Large numbers of protesters also amassed up and down the country, in Exeter and Bristol, following StWC’s call to expand the level of opposition to the government “from Orkney to the Isle of Wight.”

Daisy Carter, a Young Labour and Momentum activist helping to organise the Bristol rally, told the Star that the recent action in Syria was “inseparable” from the “long history of Western aggression” in the region.

“I feel that the most important emphasis the British people can make is to call for an end to British bombs falling across the world.”

Ms May faced angry Labour MPs in Parliament today after giving a statement to the Commons about the air strikes.

Mr Corbyn accused the PM of intervening in the Syrian civil war on a “whim” days before Parliament was recalled so that she could avoid scrutiny.

This video from England says about itself:

Bristol Protest March Against Bombing of Syria 16/04/2018

16 April 2018

Bristol Stop The War Coalition brought the centre of Bristol to a standstill during rush hour in protest against the airstrikes on Syria.

CHANTING “Hands off Syria!” and carrying signs denouncing President Donald Trump’s bombing there, hundreds of people massed in front of the White House on Saturday to oppose the Trump-ordered destruction of what he said — and they doubted — were Syrian chemical warfare facilities. Tens of thousands of people joined similar protests nationwide and in other cities around the world. The DC demonstration was one of more than 40 organised by anti-war and anti-Trump groups in the US: here.

Enschede, the Netherlands, 14 April 2016: demonstration against Trump’s/May’s bombs, organised by Syrian refugees and others.

In the days since the US and NATO launched over 100 missiles at the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs, it is clear that the imperialist powers have not been sated by the latest bloodletting. Within hours of the strikes, US and European newspapers began pumping out editorials demanding a further escalation of the war for regime-change in Syria: here.

London Grenfell disaster information cover-up


This video from Britain says about itself:

Grenfell Tower: six months on and over 100 families still in temporary accommodation

Channel 4 News, Newsnight 13 December 2017

By Paul Mitchell in England:

UK: Grenfell fire inquiry withholds vital evidence from the bereaved and survivors

28 March 2018

The fraudulent nature of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire was exposed once again during last week’s session laying out the structure and timetable for questioning witnesses.

It was revealed that vital documents have been withheld from lawyers representing relatives of the 71 people who died in the inferno on June 14 last year, the survivors and local residents.

Richard Millett QC, lead counsel for the inquiry chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, opened the procedural hearing by saying that phase one of the inquiry, dealing with how the fire started, would begin May 21. Phase two, covering why it occurred, will take place at an unspecified time in the future.

Phase one will open with tributes (“pen portraits”) to those who perished, followed two weeks later by questioning the first witnesses by inquiry lawyers.

Lawyers for the bereaved, survivors and local residents will only be allowed to question witnesses, with Moore-Bick’s permission, on a case-by-case basis. They will be prevented from raising issues of a “social, economic and political nature.”

For the same reason, no campaigning organisations or political bodies were included in the list of core participants (CPs) published last week. On the list were 504 individuals, who were bereaved due to the fire, survivors and local residents.

Also included are 18 companies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, two fire service unions, and seven state organisations, including the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC), the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation—the tenant management organisation which managed the Tower on behalf of the council, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and three government ministries.

The narrow remit given to the lawyers of the bereaved, survivors and local residents by Moore-Bick makes a mockery of the claims that allowing core participants in to “monitor” the conduct of proceedings was a great advance in accountability and inclusiveness.

Following Millett’s introduction and claims that disclosure of documents was proceeding smoothly, it became clear that the opposite was the case. Pete Weatherby QC, representing 73 of the bereaved and survivors, declared that only two months before the questioning of witnesses begins, of the 330,000 documents gathered by the inquiry, “[W]e have had only 1,962 documents disclosed to us, mostly individual photos of the building or the inside of the building.” This amounts to “just one half of one percent” of the total.

According to Weatherby, none of the “mass of the material” gathered by the MPS in their criminal investigations had been disclosed, nor had the documentation sent to the inquiry’s nine experts four months ago. He called for the release of film footage, emergency “999” calls, statements from firefighters and their commanders, emergency service radio communications, firefighting documents and post-mortem reports.

Weatherby explained that “without effective disclosure it puts us in a position where our clients, bereaved and survivors CPs are simply not going to be in a position to effectively participate or their effective participation in the whole process is going to be severely diminished. … To question witnesses we need the material.”

Weatherby noted the failure to disclose the 415 statements made by firefighters, who will be the first witnesses to be questioned in June. It transpires that the MPS, who took the statements, have held up their release for months claiming they could jeopardise its own investigations and demanding to vet each one and redact information. However, to date no one has been questioned, let alone charged, by the police in relation to the fire and there is no likelihood of this happening in the foreseeable future. The forensic stage of the criminal investigation is unlikely to be completed until 2019 and the full investigation could take years to complete.

Weatherby stated that “it is difficult to see how the disclosure of firefighters’ statements could have any adverse impact on the criminal process.”

As to the “position statements”, in which the corporate and state CPs were supposed to list the “key issues” and provide them to the inquiry by February 9, Weatherby said not only had some been delayed or not been produced at all, but “to describe them as position statements maybe is going a little too far.

“In almost none of the position statements to date has any real assistance to the inquiry [been given] beyond the processes and contractual arrangements.

“As to key issues, why the fire spread, what caused or contributed to such terrible loss of life it seems to us, with one notable exception, that’s absent from all of the position statements received so far.”

Danny Friedman, speaking for five legal firms representing 277 CPs, added, “As of today, we are yet to see any public admissions by the council or the various contractors that any features of the refurbishment were causative of the deaths” and that the position statements “are silent on this point.”

Another lawyer, Sam Stein QC, criticised the government’s Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety— set up after the Grenfell fire, chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt and due to report soon. He said the review committees had been “populated” by the corporations and state organisations and that there was no Grenfell Tower group or expert on them.

In other developments last week, RBKC sought to increase its external legal services budget from £3.5 million to £5 million, primarily to protect councillors and officers in the Grenfell inquiry and criminal investigation.

It was revealed that Rydon, the lead construction company, paid £8.7 million to refurbish Grenfell Tower between 2014 and 2016, saw its profits rise 50 percent last year. Also, the salary of its highest-paid director increased by 8 percent to £459,000.

Rydon decided not to set aside money to cover potential losses or expenses related to the fire, confident of the result of the inquiry. The firm’s accounts for the year to September 2017, said, “Rydon has reviewed the specific work carried out by Rydon Maintenance Limited and given the limited nature of the work commissioned, the approvals received in relation to it and the interrelationship with work undertaken by other parties, no provision has been made in the accounts for any matters arising from these tragic events.”

Figures released last week show the government will probably fail to permanently rehouse all those made homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire within a year as it promised. Of the 209 households needing rehousing, only 62 have so far moved into permanent new accommodation.

At the same time as the Grenfell inquiry was holding its procedural hearing, and in a warning to those taking part, scores of core participants walked out of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), objecting to the chair granting anonymity to undercover police officers. The UCPI was set up four years ago and still hasn’t started hearing evidence from police officers or those directly affected by spying.

The events of last week are proof that everything is being done to ensure that the guilty in political and corporate circles evade justice. They confirm the ongoing state-orchestrated cover-up of the real causes of the “social murder” that occurred at Grenfell Tower, at the centre of which is the Moore-Bick inquiry.

The Grenfell Tower fire symbolises everything that is rotten in a social order dominated by the selfish concerns of a corrupt financial oligarchy, contemptuous of the broad mass of working people and youth. The entirely avoidable loss of life was the result of the devastation capitalism has created in Britain and internationally, due to a deliberate and historically unprecedented transfer of social wealth from the working class to the super-rich.

The Grenfell Fire Forum, initiated by the Socialist Equality Party (UK), will be holding the next of its regular meetings on Saturday, April 21, at the Maxilla Social Club in North Kensington, London. All are welcome to attend. Details below:

Grenfell Fire Forum meeting

Saturday April 21, 4 p.m.
Maxilla Social Club, 2 Maxilla Walk
London, W10 6SW (nearest tube: Latimer Road)

For further details visit facebook.com/Grenfellforum

London Grenfell disaster survivors still homeless


This December 2017 video is called Survivors of Britain’s Grenfell inferno homeless for Xmas.

By Ceren Sagir in England:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tory housing secretary admits most Grenfell fire victims are still homeless

Nine months on from the tragedy only 62 of the 204 households have been resettled

MOST Grenfell fire victims are still homeless nine months on from the tragic incident, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid admitted to the House of Commons today.

Only 62 out of 204 households have been resettled into permanent accommodation Mr Javid said, saying this was “welcome news.”

But the minister acknowledged “progress has been far too slow”, telling MPs that 82 households are still in emergency accommodation, including 15 in hotels, with 25 families and 39 children among them.

It is unlikely that all households will be permanently rehoused by the one-year anniversary of the fire, he confessed.

A Justice4Grenfell campaign group statement said: “The continuous failure of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) following the horror of the fire at Grenfell has consistently re-traumatised former residents and those affected.

“Given the painstaking slow pace of rehousing survivors, RBKC are not allowing those who have suffered to begin to build and get on with their lives.

“Instead they are using the narrative that the survivors are at fault for not accepting offers of accommodation, even though some properties have been proven inhabitable or not fit for certain residents’ needs.”

Shadow housing minister Tony Lloyd has said the government’s “glacial” response in providing support for the victims of the Grenfell Tower is a “betrayal of the survivors.”

The Labour MP said: “It is a shameful record and it is critical that the government now makes the failing Kensington and Chelsea Council get the job done.”

Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad argued there were inconsistencies in the government’s numbers. She said: “I believe that the truth is being censored and people are demanding why. Trust is being eroded with the council.”

[Conservative] Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Elizabeth Campbell agreed that rehousing was “not quick enough” and there were still trust issues between the council and community.

Grenfell United said they have not seen evidence of change.

“We question why RBKC started buying properties before checking with people what they actually need. They are still not properly matching need.

“People have said they don’t want to live above the second floor or in a property with only one exit or with windows that overlook the Tower, so don’t show them properties on the fifth floor or with only one exit or windows that do overlook the Tower.”

HOMELESS households in temporary accommodation have soared by two-thirds since 2010, new government figures show: here.

British Conservative neglect of fire safety doors


This 15 March 2018 video from Britain is called [London firefighter] Lucy Masoud on Grenfell fire doors.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Health and Safety: Javid downplays the importance of fire safety doors

LABOUR shadow housing minister Tony Lloyd said today he was “astounded” by Sajid Javid’s comments that there was a low risk to the public from faulty fire-resistant doors used in Grenfell Tower.

The Metropolitan Police has revealed that three front doors from flats inside the tragic tower held back fire for 15 minutes when they were supposed to resist a blaze for 30.

In a Commons statement, Housing Secretary Mr Javid said the government had ordered more tests to be carried out and added that there was “no evidence that this is a systemic issue.”

Mr Lloyd told MPs: “The Metropolitan Police considered that this test result might have wider implications for public safety and consequently alerted [Mr Javid’s] department.

“The Secretary of State then went on to say that there is no evidence that this is a systemic issue. I was astounded by this.

“If this isn’t systemic, what assessment has been made of how many buildings are potentially affected by this, how many individual flats, how many people who have fire doors that simply don’t do the job?”

He added that the government must work with a “real sense of urgency” to get to the bottom of the issue on behalf of tower block residents across the country.

Mr Lloyd also highlighted that, nine months after the Grenfell fire which killed 71 people last June, only seven out of 300 tower blocks identified as having the dangerous cladding had it removed.

“This is simply not good enough,” he said.

Natasha Elcock, a survivor from the tower and a representative of the bereaved and survivors’ group Grenfell United, said: “It’s shocking — first the cladding and insulation, then the doors. Who knows what else is putting people’s lives at risk?

“People’s homes must be made absolutely safe for them and their children. The government should have improved regulations after previous fires. We can’t listen to any more excuses.

“Grenfell United will not stop campaigning until the lessons of Grenfell are learned. Nothing can bring our loved ones back, but we must make sure a fire like this never happens again.”

The doors, manufactured by Manse Masterdor, were installed between 2011 and 2012. Since then, the company has been taken over by Synseal, which said that the doors in question were no longer being sold.

See also here.

FIRE doors in the Grenfell Tower failed, providing further evidence that this horrific tragedy could have been prevented. There is not a shadow of doubt that substandard fire doors, in combination with flammable cladding aided the rapid spread of the inferno which claimed the lives of so many men, women and children: here.

London march for Grenfell

Racist murder of London Bengali worker in 1978


Catalyst: Altab Ali's murder sparked protests in the Bengali community. Photo: Paul Trevor

By Lynne Walsh in England:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Preview: Forty years on, Altab Ali is not forgotten

LYNNE WALSH looks forward to an event marking the racist murder of a young Bengali worker in London

MAY 4 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Altab Ali, an immigrant clothing worker who came to Britain as a teenager and laboured in a clothing workshop in Hanbury Street off Brick Lane in London.

The day Ali was killed in 1978 was the day of local elections. There were 50 seats in Tower Hamlets, with the National Front [neo-nazi party] fielding 43 candidates.

They had been organising in the area for a few years regularly, with a paper sale at the corner of Brick Lane and Bethnal Green Road and a bookstall selling Did Six Million Really Die?

A book by a National Front member, denying Adolf Hitler’s mass murder of Jews.

They frequently terrorised the local Bengali community.

In the last few years, Tower Hamlets council has officially recognised Altab Ali Day locally and organised a memorial event with local groups.

This year’s includes the one-off performance of a scene from a very moving play written by Julie Begum to be performed in Altab Ali Park late in the afternoon of May 4 and the same evening at the Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road.

Begum, the writer of The Altab Ali Story, is chair of the The Swadhinata Trust, a London-based secular Bengali community group that works to promote Bengali history and heritage among young people and she has started a crowdfunding campaign to finance the production (see below).

The trust has been operating since November 2000, offering seminars, workshops, exhibitions and educational literature to young Bengalis in schools, colleges, youth clubs and community centres in Britain.

The heart-breaking story about the death of Ali oscillates between a village in Sylhet in Bangladesh and a flat in East London and it dramatises the fateful moment in 1978 when his mother is given the devastating news.

Ali regularly writes letters to his family back home with descriptions of life in a foreign land, but everything changes with the arrival of an ominous envelope from one of his friends.

The anger conveyed in the letter and the impact of this senseless murder live on for his family and the community at large.

It was the catalyst for a mass anti-racist movement in the Bengali community, the first ever seen in Britain, culminating in a demonstration of 10,000 people marching to Downing Street via Hyde Park with his coffin.

To contribute to production costs of the Altab Ali Story, please visit spacehive.com/thealtabalistory#. Details of the event at Rich Mix are at richmix.org.uk/events/theatre/altab-ali-story.

This 2016 video from England says about itself:

The Altab Ali Story: Play

The Altab Ali Story
Written by Julie Begum
Director: Mukul Ahmed
Dramaturge: Patricia Cumper
Producer: Pauline Walker

Cast
Mother: Saida Tanni Dabir
Miah/Postman: Delwar Hossain Dilu
Grandmother: Tonni Khan
Altab Ali: Porag Hasan

This heart-breaking story about the death of Altab Ali oscillates between a village in Sylhet, Bangladesh and a flat in East London and dramatizes the historic moment in 1978 when his mother is given the devastating news. The airmail letters to his family back home with descriptions of life in a foreign land are keenly anticipated but everything changes with the arrival of an ominous envelope from one of Ali’s friends.

This senseless murder is the catalyst for a mass anti-racist movement from the Bengali community; the first ever seen in Britain, culminating in a demonstration of 7,000 people marching to Downing Street via Hyde Park with his coffin. Though airmail letters are no longer a primary means of communication, the anger conveyed ‘par avion’, and the impact of this senseless murder live on, both for his family and the community at large.