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Council leader quits in response to Grenfell Tower fire criticism

By PA Reporter

The leader of the council dealing with the Grenfell Tower fire has resigned following criticism of his handling of the disaster.

Nicholas Paget-Brown said he had to accept responsibility for "perceived failings" by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council after the tragedy which claimed at least 80 lives.

He acknowledged many questions about why the fire spread so quickly would need to be answered by the public inquiry, and the council had been criticised for "failing to answer all the questions that people have".

Mr Paget-Brown said: "As council leader I have to accept my share of responsibility for these perceived failings. In particular, my decision to accept legal advice that I should not compromise the public inquiry by having an open discussion in public yesterday, has itself become a political story. And it cannot be right that this should have become the focus of attention when so many are dead or still unaccounted for.

"I have therefore decided to step down as leader of the council as soon as a successor is in place. They will appoint a new deputy leader and cabinet."

Downing Street said the council should have "respected" a High Court ruling that the Press and public should be allowed into the meeting, which was originally slated to be held behind closed doors.

In a separate development, the organisation which manages Grenfell Tower in west London announced it had agreed its chief executive would "step aside" so he can "concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry".

A statement from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) confirmed Robert Black's move, two days after retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick was appointed to lead the public inquiry into the deaths. An interim chief executive will be appointed, it added.

Built in 1974, Grenfell Tower in west London was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.

The council is also under pressure following reports that cladding used during a multimillion-pound refurbishment of the high-rise was switched to a cheaper version.

Man charged with fraud over claim he lost family in high-rise horror

A man has appeared in court accused of lying about losing his family in the Grenfell Tower disaster to get free accommodation and nearly £10,000 worth of clothes and household items.

Vietnam-born Anh Nhu Nguyen (52) claimed he lost his wife and son in the inferno and was assigned a family liaison officer before police noticed inconsistencies in his story, Westminster Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

He tried to secure cash and accommodation from the funds reserved for the victims of the fire by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, prosecutors say.

Nguyen, of Beckenham, faces two counts of fraud by false representation. No pleas have been entered.

He is due at Southwark Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on July 28. District Judge Tan Ikram remanded him into custody until that date.

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