Dear Brother / Sister
Grenfell Tower Inquiry – FBU Intervention and Support for Members
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry (GTI) has begun to take evidence from firefighters. FBU members across the country have expressed alarm at how some of the questioning and cross-examination of the first firefighter witness, Brother Michael Dowden, has been conducted. This circular sets out the arrangements at the GTI and the support for FBU members attending.
The FBU has previously set out a range of concerns about the inquiry, its terms of reference and how it might be conducted. The Executive Council is regularly briefed on all developments and is keeping the process under review. This includes the question of whether the union will support and cooperate with the inquiry or advise FBU members to do so. While we support a thorough examination of every aspect of what happened at Grenfell, this must be done fairly. This includes questions about the order in which issues are addressed and how this is done.
The union has invested considerable effort into preparing for the GTI and considering the support needed for FBU members.
At the inquiry, there is a legal team for the FBU. This includes solicitors from Thompsons as well as the union’s counsel, Martin Seward. At least two Regional Officials from London are in attendance on all occasions, including travelling to the venue with FBU members where this is appropriate. Either myself (General Secretary) or another National Official is in attendance on all occasions, including meeting FBU members giving evidence.
In addition, the union has liaised closely with the London Fire Brigade regarding the welfare of all those involved and will continue to monitor this.
The FBU is a Core Participant to the GTI. This gives certain legal rights and provides the opportunity to make representation, where appropriate, to the Inquiry legal team or officials. This will be done as and when necessary.
We are constrained from commenting on witness evidence until each witness has concluded. There are also various other legal considerations in relation to what can and should be said by the union at each stage.
Nevertheless, we shall address the issues raised by the GTI as we are able to do so and at the earliest opportunity at each stage.
We will shortly make comment on the evidence heard so far.