A service was held at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 72 people who died as a result of the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington on 14 June 2017.
The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr David Hoyle. The congregation included London Mayor Sadiq Khan, former Prime Minister Theresa May and Housing Secretary Michael Gove, as well as many friends and family members of the dead.
Most wore green, the colour of remembrance and solidarity with the Grenfell victims and survivors. White roses were laid in their memory.
Considerable controversy still surrounds the fire, especially the (in)actions of the “stay put” London Fire Brigade; lax regulation and poor testing standards; complacency and alleged cover-up by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea; and the greed, lies and incompetence of the British and French manufacturers and installers of the inflammable cladding.
It was only a few days ago that this type of cladding was finally banned in Britain – even though the government was warned about its dangers 20 years ago.
Most galling to the families has been the failure to bring any criminal charges against those responsible, many of whom have been named in the media over the years. The £150 million inquiry – a four-year festival of buck-passing – is still grinding on, with no end in sight. The sheeted over tombstone of the tower itself is all too clearly in sight, though, standing as a cruel and inescapable reminder of a wholly avoidable tragedy.
Many continue to question whether RBKC would have treated its wealthier residents’ lives with such apparent disregard. The BBC quoted journalist Jon Snow as saying: “Grenfell, set in the richest borough in Britain, speaks to the grotesque inequality with which our society has been riven.”
- For more information about the background to this story, see grenfellunited.org.uk and justice4grenfell.org and updates on the organisations’ social media platforms.