Campaigners unite to call for change on Grenfell Tower fire anniversary

Campaigners unite to call for change on Grenfell Tower fire anniversary

Campaigners said they are uniting in a “battle for justice” and demanding the next government fixes “this broken country” as crowds gathered to mark the seventh anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Bereaved who lost loved ones in the Infected Blood scandal and during the pandemic stood in solidarity with the community in west London to make impassioned calls for change.

Those gathered near the site of the tower on Friday evening heard a common call for a national oversight mechanism, an independent public body, to be put in place, responsible for collating, analysing and following up on recommendations from public inquiries.

Five years after 15 recommendations from phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry were made specifically directed at the Government, four remain outstanding, including introducing a legal obligation on landlords to provide personal emergency evacuation plans (Peeps) for disabled tenants.

Fellow campaigners Lobby Akinnola, on behalf of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice (CBFFJ) UK, and Jason Evans, who is director of the Factor 8 campaign group, both backed the call on recommendations and joined the Grenfell community for their annual silent walk.

Marcio Gomes, whose son Logan was stillborn after the Grenfell blaze, said campaign groups across the country “are uniting under the same battle for justice”.

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Marcio Gomes of Grenfell United speaks on stage (Yui Mok/PA)

Addressing the crowd, he said: “We are proud tonight to share the stage with two other vital campaigns – Infected Blood and Covid.

“And share our call for a national overnight mechanism.

“Tonight we are uniting with all of the bereaved up and down the country who have suffered losing loved ones in state care.

“We stand together tonight to send the new government a message.

“Fix this broken country. Rebuild these broken systems.

“We demand justice, we demand change, we demand charges.”

Tower block fire in London
Jason Evans, Director of the Factor 8 campaign group, addresses the crowd (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr Evans, who was just four years old when his father died, said the Grenfell community was “truly incredible” in the way it has come together in the wake of the disaster.

He said: “From the Infected Blood scandal community, we fully support that call. We fully support your cause.

“We got our truth and answers, and I just hope to God you get yours too.”

Mr Akinnola, who lost his father in the pandemic, said he believed that uniting in a common call “will lead to a better tomorrow”.

“No longer will the system that prioritises profit over people be allowed to stand,” he said.

“Together, side by side, as a united voice we will ensure that the legacy of our loved ones is not one of sorrow but of change and it will be a legacy of justice.”

Tower block fire in London
Lobby Akinnola, on behalf of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice (CBFFJ) UK, speaks (Yui Mok/PA)

Grenfell United has also backed calls for a Hillsborough Law, which would, under the Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, include a legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively co-operate with official investigations and inquiries.

Labour’s manifesto, published on Thursday, committed to bringing in such a law, but campaigners have said that would be “only part of the picture” and that a national oversight mechanism is vital to ensure recommendations are followed through.

The final report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry will be published in September.