The law firm currently representing 40 victims of the 2016 Shepherd’s Bush tower block fire, and which advised the residents committee after 6 people died at Lakanal House in Southwark in 2009, has welcomed the announcement by Theresa May that a full public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower will be held.
The Grenfell Tower fire has left at least 17 people dead, with many more missing. Lawyers at Leigh Day are calling for improvements to high rise living within the city of London as an immediate priority.
In 2009, 6 people died when a fire broke out in Lakanal House in Southwark, the inquest which took place in 2013 heard how composite panels had been on the building.
Composite panels or ‘sandwich panels’ were described at the inquest hearing as two external layers filled with a 'sort of blown or aerated foam'. These were on the external walls of Lakanal House and had been fitted during a major refurbishment of Lakanal House during 2006/7.
In her narrative verdict in the inquest of those killed in the tragedy, Coroner Frances Kirkham CBE said that the replacement of composite panels on Lakanal House ‘had a significant impact on the fire resistance of the external wall of Lakanal House.”
Initial reports suggest that composite panels recently fitted to the building during a refurbishment may have contributed to the spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Thomas Jervis from law firm Leigh Day, who acts on behalf of 40 victims of the tower block fire at Shepherd’s Court on the Charecroft Estate in 2016, which is believed to have been started by a faulty appliance, said:
“The damage that a fire can cause within a high rise block is staggering. The speed at which it travels and the confinement of those who live there is terrifying.
“A full public inquiry is overdue as many people across the world have paid with their lives for high rise living.
"We await the findings as to the cause of the blaze but we would call on the authorities to take urgent action to identify those building which may be at immediate risk."