Top councillors and others linked to Grenfell Tower revamp cannot keep jobs - MP

Senior councillors and decision-makers linked to the Grenfell Tower refurbishment cannot stay in their roles as a corporate manslaughter investigation looms, the area's MP said.

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad, who took over the west London seat just days before the fire, claimed it was "impossible" for anyone who played a role in authorising the use of flammable material on the building to command public confidence.

Scotland Yard announced on Thursday there were "reasonable grounds" to suspect Kensington and Chelsea Council and the organisation which managed the tower on its behalf had committed corporate manslaughter.

Leading figures from the local authority and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) will now face formal police interviews.

While the leader and deputy leader of the council have resigned since the inferno, many members of its cabinet remain in their posts.

Asked about the future of the council and KCTMO leadership, Ms Dent Coad told the Press Association: "It changes by the day, we are looking at the taskforce leads who are coming in and what their records are like, but I really don't see how anybody who was anywhere near the actual decision-making process could possibly continue working, any of them at all.

"Cabinet members will all be tarred with the same brush, because the decision went through the cabinet.

"Anybody else who was around in the KCTMO at that time who was anywhere near that decision, nobody will trust them.

"It would be impossible for them to continue, I don't see anyone can have any trust at all if they were anywhere near that decision."

At least 80 people were killed when a fire devoured the building last month, its progress suspected to have been hastened by the use of flammable materials on in its exterior during the £8.6 million refit.

At a vigil held on Thursday night for the victims, there was a cooling of tensions as news broke that the organisations faced investigation, Ms Dent Coad said.

"When I went to the vigil not everyone knew then because it had literally come out half an hour before, but there was certainly a feeling of relief as the news came out," she said.

"Some people said 'glory be', literally, and were visibly relieved, because this is a huge weight off their shoulders."

Campaigners cautiously welcomed the developing police investigation, but called for individuals to face prosecution over the fire for gross negligence manslaughter.

The Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group said it hoped the statement was a "precursor" to individual arrests, adding: "Any arrests made will be seen by all those affected as tangible evidence that they are valued members of society and are being listened to."

Police do not have the power to arrest individuals under the offence of corporate manslaughter, but someone can face gross negligence manslaughter charges if a death may have been caused by an act or omission on their part.

Ms Dent Coad sought to reassure survivors who were concerned no individuals would be arrested, saying: "Certainly the letter implied that it didn't preclude further charges, so I think there must mean that there are."

Potential health and safety violations could form the grounds for further police action, she added.

In a letter updating residents on the criminal investigation, the Metropolitan Police said: "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.

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 Scotland Yard announcement, newly-elected council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: "Our residents deserve answers about the Grenfell Tower fire and the police investigation will provide these.

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

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