Campaigners have called for individuals to be prosecuted over the Grenfell Tower fire after Scotland Yard said it had ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect corporate manslaughter offences may have been committed.
Residents affected by the blaze have been told senior figures from Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation will face formal police interviews.
The news was cautiously welcomed by campaigners who urged the Metropolitan Police to also consider gross negligence manslaughter charges against individuals.
In a letter updating residents on the criminal investigation, the force 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.’
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.’
Yvette Williams, a co-ordinator for Justice 4 Grenfell, said: ‘We welcome there is enough information and evidence to go down the corporate prosecution route for the Tenant Management Organisation and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
‘However, what we would like to see running alongside that is individuals being prosecuted.
‘We want is individuals named and prosecuted - you can have both, but we don’t want corporate manslaughter on its own.
‘People implement policy, people make decisions, people took particular actions and those people are responsible.’
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.
The Metropolitan Police said the letter was ‘simply an update on the investigation so far’ and ‘should not be taken to conclude that the identified offences and organisations are the only offences, organisations or individuals that are being investigated’.