A survivors’ group has welcomed a report on the Grenfell Tower fire, calling for the government to treat its response as “a national emergency”.
The report, published on Wednesday, followed the first phase of an inquiry, looking at what happened on the night of 14 June 2017, when 72 people died.
It was critical of the London Fire Brigade’s response and said the tower did not meet building regulations.
The LFB said it was “disappointed” by some of the criticism of individuals.
Campaign group Grenfell United said the report showed “the immediate and real dangers” of “highly combustible cladding and insulation”.
“Lives are at risk and the government need to treat this as a national emergency,” the group said.
The report made 46 recommendations, including improvements in training for fire brigade staff and the development of national guidelines for evacuating high-rise buildings.
Grenfell United called for the recommendations to be implemented in full, saying they would save lives.
The report condemned the LFB for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the fire.
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission” by the LFB and more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.
Grenfell United responded: “It is heartbreaking to read that more of our loved ones could have been saved that night if the building was evacuated earlier.”
At an emotional press conference, relatives of 20 victims of the fire called for an overhaul of the LFB, saying its leadership should resign and even face prosecution.
Nazanin Aghlani, who lost two family members in the fire, said some firefighters displayed a “serious lack of common sense” and failed to see “what was so vivid in front of them”.
“If a fire happened tonight the same thing would happen again,” she said.
‘Too little too late’
The report said evidence from London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton that she would not have changed anything about the brigade’s response was “insensitive”.
Ms Cotton said many of the recommendations were welcome and would be “carefully considered”.
She expressed her “deepest sorrow at not being able to save all those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire”.
She added: “We welcome the chairman’s recognition of the courage, commitment and bravery of firefighters on the night, but we are disappointed at some of the criticism of individual staff members who were placed in completely unprecedented circumstances and faced the most unimaginable conditions while trying to save the lives of others.”
However, Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of Grenfell United who was rescued with her six-year-old daughter from the 11th floor, said Dany Cotton’s statement was “too little too late”.
“She stood up in the inquiry, in a room full of bereaved and survivors and said there’s nothing she would do to change that night,” she told the BBC.
“If she’d expressed that sorrow that day in that room, that potentially would have washed with us today.”
Grenfell United expressed concern at the report’s finding that the LFB were “at risk of not learning the lessons from Grenfell”, adding that firefighters were “let down by their training, procedures, equipment and leadership”.
Other issues highlighted in the report included:
- A lack of training in how to “recognise the need for an evacuation or how to organise one”
- Incident commanders “of relatively junior rank” being unable to change strategy
- Control room officers lacking training on when to advise callers to evacuate
- An assumption that crews would reach callers, resulting in “assurances which were not well founded”
- Communication between the control room and those on the ground being “improvised, uncertain and prone to error”
- A lack of an organised way to share information within the control room, meaning officers had “no overall picture of the speed or pattern of fire spread”
In the House of Commons, MPs held a minutes’ silence to remember victims of the fire, before a debate on the inquiry.
Boris Johnson told MPs that survivors and the bereaved had been “overlooked and ignored” before the fire and “shamefully failed” afterwards.
The second phase of the inquiry will focus on wider circumstances of the fire, including the design of the building.
While this was not the focus of the first phase, the report found there was “compelling evidence” external walls of the building failed to comply with building regulations and “actively promoted” the spread of fire.
It said the principal reason the flames shot up the building so fiercely was the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”.
Grenfell United said the second phase of the inquiry “must now focus on where responsibility for the devastating refurbishment [of the building] lies”, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the tenant management organisation and the companies involved facing “serious questions”.
League One side AFC Wimbledon have appointed caretaker boss Glyn Hodges as their new permanent manager.
The ex-Wales midfielder, 56, has been in charge since Wally Downes was suspended by the club last month, after being charged by the Football Association over bets placed on games.
Downes left Wimbledon on Sunday, two days after being given a four-week FA suspension for admitting the charge.
Former Wimbledon player Hodges had been assistant to Downes at Kingsmeadow.
More to follow.
Extinction Rebellion activists have launched legal action over the police’s decision to ban them from demonstrating anywhere in London.
Their lawyers submitted an application to the High Court for a judicial review which they hope will be heard later.
The claimants include the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Baroness Jenny Jones, Labour MPs Clive Lewis and David Drew and writer George Monbiot.
There have been more than 1,600 arrests over the ongoing protests, police said.
The Metropolitan Police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square on Monday evening.
It followed the announcement of new restrictions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, which required activists to stop their protests in central London by 21:00 BST or risk arrest.
Any assembly of more than two people linked to the Extinction Rebellion action is now illegal in London.
The force said it decided to impose the rules after “continued breaches” of conditions which limited the demonstrations to Trafalgar Square.
Despite the ban, protesters plan to gather again in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday lunchtime.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the policing of the demonstrations, said he was confident the Met’s decision was “entirely lawful” and “entirely proportionate”.
Officers would respond in a “balanced and proportionate” way towards anyone assembling in Trafalgar Square, he said, but added they would be “liable to arrest”.
‘Concern’ over ban
Extinction Rebellion argue the ban is disproportionate and an unprecedented curtailment of the right to free speech and free assembly.
The group hopes the High Court will quash the decision to implement the blanket ban.
Mothers and babies were among those defying the London-wide ban on Wednesday.
They staged a “feed-in” outside Google’s offices in London’s King’s Cross, aiming to highlight the company’s political donations to organisations that have campaigned against action on climate change.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said concerns had been raised about the police’s decision, adding that shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was discussing it with the police.
“I think it’s important to protect the right of free speech, and the right to demonstrate in our society – obviously in a non-violent way,” he said.
He added that Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan had no involvement in the “operational decision” by police to remove the protesters.
On Tuesday, Mr Khan said he was “seeking further information” about why the ban was necessary, saying he believed “the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld”.
A government spokesman said the UK was already taking “world-leading action to combat climate change as the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely by 2050”.
“While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives,” he added.
What are the rules around protests?
Police have the powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986, if a senior officer has reasonable belief that it may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Police are also under a duty to balance the task of keeping the streets open with the right freedom of assembly under Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and freedom of expression, under Article 10. These rights are not absolute – the state can curtail them.
However, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said: “The test, if and when it gets to a human rights court battle, is whether police action was proportionate to the threat and only what was strictly necessary.”
By law, the organiser of a public march must tell the police certain information in writing six days in advance.
Police have the power to limit or change the route of the march or set other conditions.
A Section 14 notice issued under the Public Order Act allows police to impose conditions on a static protest and individuals who fail to comply with these can be arrested.
Some 50 households had to stay in emergency accommodation overnight after a burst water main flooded homes in north London.
About 250 properties including two schools were affected after a 36-inch (91cm) water pipe fractured in Finsbury Park before 08:00 BST on Tuesday.
One man was rescued from a basement while others had to be led to safety.
Thames Water said a temporary fix had been put in place and all flood water had been pumped away.
The water main burst at the junction of Queens Drive and Princess Crescent causing an area measuring about 600m x 200m (1,900ft x 650ft) to be flooded to a depth of about 1m (3ft).
About 12 fire engines and 80 firefighters were deployed to help rescue people and pump water away, while postcode areas N1, N4, N5, N7 and N19 were left with no water or low water pressure.
Tanja Schnitzer, who lives in a basement flat on Queens Drive, said rooms in the property had filled up with water “within half an hour from floor to ceiling”.
“It’s devastating. We’ve pretty much lost everything,” she said.
Water supplies for most properties in the area have been restored but Thames Water said air locks in the system meant some residents were still experiencing problems.
A spokesman for the firm said bottled water and plumbers were on standby in case of issues while engineers would finish fixing the mains during the day.
Woodberry Down Primary School remains shut but Parkwood Primary School has reopened.
Queens Drive, between Brownswood Road and Seven Sisters Road, has been closed to traffic.
Banksy has opened a “pop-up” shop in south London featuring the stab vest he designed for Stormzy’s headline act at the Glastonbury Festival.
A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon.
“I’m opening a shop today,” the artist said on Instagram. “Although the doors don’t actually open.”
A man stabbed to death at a London Underground station was an Arsenal fan on his way to a match, the BBC has been told.
Tashan Daniel, 20, was killed in an “unprovoked attack” on the platform at Hillingdon station on Tuesday.
He had been heading to the Emirates Stadium to see the Gunners face Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Carabao Cup, a source said.
It is the third murder investigation on the Tube network this year.
No arrests have been made over the attack, which Det Supt Gary Richardson described as “a shocking act of violence”.
He said the British Transport Police (BTP) investigation was in its “early stages”.
“We believe a group of young men were involved in an altercation on the platform before one of the men received a fatal stab wound,” he said.
Police and paramedics were called to the station in west London at 15:57 BST.
An air ambulance was also sent to Hillingdon, but Mr Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Danielle Foster, who was driving past Hillingdon station at the time of the stabbing, said upon “hearing so many sirens, I knew something terrible had happened”.
“Lots of people were being turned away from the station as it had been closed,” she said, adding: “Then the police helicopter began circling the scene.”
Hillingdon station was closed by Transport for London (TfL) while police searched the area.
The station was closed for the rest of Tuesday evening and reopened at 05:45 this morning.
So far in 2019 more than 100 murder investigations have been launched across London by the Metropolitan Police and BTP.
Heavy rain is causing travel problems and flash flooding across England.
Five flood warnings and 32 flood alerts have been put in place by the Environment Agency.
The Met Office has a yellow rain warning covering most of the country in force until 23:00 BST.
Floods have been reported on roads in Southampton, Birmingham and Liverpool, while Transport for London (TfL) said a number of roads across the capital were also affected by flooding.
A flood warning is in place in Crawley for the Ifield Brook and River Mole at Ifield and the River Mole at Lowfield Heath.
Flooding is also expected on the upper Frome between Maiden Newton and Dorchester in Dorset and on the Grace Dieu Brook between Whitwick and Thringstone in Leicestershire.
Edwinstone and Ollerton in Nottinghamshire are also at risk of flooding from the River Maun.
National Rail warned of major disruption between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stourbridge until about noon because of a tree blocking the line earlier.
Southampton City Centre has seen problems with several cars having broken down in water on Millbrook Road West.
Motorists have also been advised to avoid the road between Waterhouse Lane and Paynes Road.
Roads have flooded in the Longbridge area of Birmingham, while Mersey Fire and Rescue Service reported vehicles trapped in floodwater in the Queens Drive and West Derby area of Liverpool.
A service spokesman urged drivers to “please take extra care”, adding: “Slow down, increase your distances, switch your lights on and please don’t drive into floodwater.”
About 2in (49.6mm) of rain fell in the six hours before 09:00 at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, according to the Met Office.
Spokesman Grahame Madge said it was a “significant” amount of rain.
He said the band of rain was “transient” and, having started in the South West, has moved to the Midlands before hitting the North later in the day.
He said some other areas could expect to see the same amount of rain as Boscombe Down.
Downward dogs and yoga mats have replaced cars and buses on London’s Tower Bridge as part of Car Free Day.
The mass yoga session was one of a number of activities taking place in the capital as more than 16 miles (27 km) of streets were shut.
Bank junction has been turned into a festival space while children will race go-karts in the Square Mile.
The closures will be in place until 19:00 BST with roads elsewhere expected to be busy as a result.
Tower and London Bridge were shut at 07:00 along with streets in parts of the City, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.
Among the other activities taking place are a hedge maze in Cheapside and classic cycle rides on Tower Bridge.
Organisers hope more than 150,000 people will join the event which has been named Reimagine.
Away from the centre, 15 boroughs will be running their own Car Free Day celebrations and more than 340 “play streets” – safe spaces for local people to socialise and play – have been approved some 24 boroughs.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said the day was about “demonstrating our commitment to cleaning up our toxic air and experiencing a greener way of living”.
Transport for London has warned that those who do take to the roads should expect “significant delays”.
Protests are expected across the UK, with pupils leaving schools and workers downing tools in a bid to urge more government action on climate change.
It’s part of a global “climate strike” day, which started in Australia earlier, where organisers said around 300,000 people took part.
They are urging “climate justice” and “an end to the age of fossil fuels”.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said their voices were being heard but did not “endorse children leaving school”.
It follows earlier school strikes inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.
- Huge crowds join day of climate action – live updates
- Greta Thunberg tells US politicians to try harder
The teenager, from Sweden, has described the turnout in Australia earlier as “incredible”.
She is set to join a later rally planned in New York, where world leaders will meet at the UN next week to discuss climate change.
Extinction Rebellion, which organised its own climate and environment protests in the UK earlier this year, said it stood “in solidarity” with those taking part.
It added that its members were joining the strikes and holding their own events, including a choir and “kids’ space” in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, and outside King’s College London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike in Westminster at about 13:15pm.
Mr Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast protesters’ voices were “being heard” but insisted the time spent in school was “incredibly important”.
He added: “What I do support is their energy, their creativity, and the fact that they have completely mastered these issues and take them very seriously.”
About 30 residents have been evacuated and part of a building has been destroyed following a suspected explosion.
London Fire Brigade said it was called to a fire after the suspected blast on High Street in Hampton Hill, south-west London, on Tuesday night.
On social media, one witness described hearing a “boom” before the blaze. No was injured.
Road closures remain in place at the scene, Richmond Council said.