FBU responds to Baroness Lawrence’s racism allegations on Channel 4 News

Last night Channel 4 News aired a segment about the tragic case of Isaac Paulos a five-year-old boy who lost his life at Grenfell Tower. In the segment, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack in 1993, made a comment linking race to the operational response to Grenfell.

Karen Bell, National BEMM Vice Chair and BEMM London secretary, said: “Firstly we would like to express our condolences to not only the family of Isaac Paulos but to all the bereaved and those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

“Without talking about specifics of that tragic night we, as Black & Ethnic Minority Members (BEMM), would like to address parts of the C4 interview aired and comment on the remarks made by Baroness Lawrence.

“As firefighters, regardless of age, race, sexuality, gender recognition, religious belief or disability we work together as a team to deliver humanitarian aid to all those requiring it. Aid and assistance is delivered, with the same urgency, to all regardless of the aforementioned.  Every firefighter is committed to attempting to save life and save property regardless of race and economic value. 

“We are deeply saddened to hear the personal views of Baroness Lawrence and would welcome the opportunity to meet with her and discuss her views openly. Baroness Lawrence’s personal views in no way reflect the opinions of our members and we strongly refute this personal opinion on this tragedy.”

The segment has caused significant distress for firefighters and has provoked a strong reaction on social media, with users questioning editorial decisions made by Channel 4 News.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "The family's experience is heart-breaking. They, like many others, were caught up in a terrifying, chaotic situation that night with tragic consequences and deserve answers to what happened to their son Isaac. We send them our deepest condolences.

“Firefighting is a humanitarian profession. The Fire Brigades Union has a long history of standing against racism. We do not accept that the actions of individual firefighters that night were motivated by race or any other discriminatory factor. Firefighters faced impossible circumstances and worked tirelessly and courageously, repeatedly risking their lives to save others.

“The policies, including housing policies, which led to the tragedy at Grenfell should be thoroughly investigated, as we have said from the beginning.

“As the representative body of the individual firefighters and control staff who gave their all that terrible night the FBU will seek to meet with Baroness Lawrence to discuss this issue in more detail.”

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