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Reasonable grounds to suspect corporate manslaughter, say Grenfell Tower police

Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation face being interviewed by police.

Detectives investigating the Grenfell Tower fire have “reasonable grounds” to suspect that corporate manslaughter offences may have been committed, Scotland Yard has said.

In a letter to residents, the force said that senior figures from Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation faced being interviewed by police.

The letter said: “We have seized a huge amount of material and taken a large number of witness statements.

“After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.”

At least 80 people were killed when the blaze ripped through the 24-storey block of flats in west London on June 14.

It added: “In due course, a senior representative of each corporation will be formally interviewed by police in relation to the potential offence.

“This interview will not take place immediately, since it is important that all relevant facts and information have been gathered before any such interview is conducted.”

The force added that the facts were “simply an update on the investigation so far”, adding: “The content of this note should not be taken to conclude that the identified offences and organisations are the only offences, organisations or individuals that are being investigated.”

The Metropolitan Police said it was committed to keeping those affected by the fire updated on the investigation.

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Grenfell Tower victims: where they were found (PA graphic)

It said in a statement: “The Met started an investigation into the cause and spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June.

“Since then we have stated that it is a criminal investigation, considering the full range of offences from corporate manslaughter to regulatory breaches.

“This is a complex and far reaching investigation that by its very nature will take a considerable time to complete.

“The Met has made a commitment to the families who lost loved ones in the fire and survivors that they will be kept updated, as far as we possibly can, as the investigation continues. As is routine, we will not give a running commentary on this investigation.”

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At least 80 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire (Natalie Oxford/PA)

Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown and his deputy Rock Feilding-Mellen resigned amid fierce criticism of the council’s response to the disaster.

Robert Black, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which manages Grenfell Tower, also stepped down so he could “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”.

Responding to the letter to residents, newly elected council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “Our residents deserve answers about the Grenfell Tower fire and the police investigation will provide these.

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Newly elected council leader Elizabeth Campbell says "we fully support the Metropolitan Police investigation" ( Ben Stevens/PA)

“We fully support the Metropolitan Police investigation and we will co-operate in every way we can.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further on matters subject to the police investigation.”

Joe Delany, who lives in a block adjoining the tower and has worked with the Grenfell Action Group, told the Press Association: “I think everyone has more cautious scepticism than cautious optimism, it’s one thing to announce this investigation is going on – which is totally different from a prosecution being brought, which is completely different to a conviction being achieved.

“Also, one thing we have never seen in this country are individuals prosecuted under corporate manslaughter because it is always hard to find the controlling mind.

“I do hope that this case would prove to be the exception, rather than the rule.”

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