The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is preparing to resume hearings on 6 July, on a “limited attendance” basis.
The inquiry was suspended in March during the COVID-19 lockdown to avoid an “unacceptable risk of infection”. In May, following consultation with core participants, it outlined its plans to restart hearings with attendance limited, once social restrictions were sufficiently lifted.
It said at the time that it was developing a detailed plan for doing so, and that the earliest it believed would be possible to reopen was likely to be July.
In an update this week (9 June), the inquiry said it is now working towards resuming the hearings on Monday 6 July at its Bishop’s Bridge Road location in London, on the basis that the current restrictions remain in place.
It said: “Hearings will only resume if it is safe to do so and remains consistent with the available guidance and the government’s easing of restrictions.
“The panel’s primary concern is the health, safety and well-being of all those who would need to attend.”
The plans will mean that initially attendance will be restricted to the members of the panel, counsel to the inquiry, the witness, their legal representative and any person providing immediate support, inquiry staff and contractors critical to the operation of the hearings, and an invited member of the Press Association.
However, the numbers would be under constant review, the inquiry emphasised.
It added: “The panel are particularly keen for the bereaved, survivor and resident community to return when possible, but their safety must be our overriding concern and it is too early to suggest when or how that might be possible.”
Earlier in June, the Attorney General granted an undertaking to protect the oral evidence of “legal persons”, such as companies, given during the inquiry from being used against them in any future criminal prosecution.
Without the undertaking, the witnesses could have refused to answer questions on the basis of a risk of self-incrimination, a right granted to them in law.
Suella Braverman QC, who had previously granted the undertaking only to individual witnesses, said she was extending the measure “in the knowledge that it will not jeopardise any future criminal investigation or prosecution and that it does not offer anyone immunity from prosecution”.