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Grenfell Tower: ‘Illegal’ Blaze High-rise Sub-letters Offered Amnesty as RBKC Elects New Leader

An apartment inside Grenfell Tower in north Kensington is seen in a handout picture released by the Metropolitan Police in London, Britain on June 18, 2017. Metropolitan Police Handout via REUTERS
Smoke billows from a tower block severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall - RTS16ZRN

Sub-let amnesty: Smoke billows from Grenfell Tower severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, west London on June 14

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said that no-one who was illegally sub-letting flats in Grenfell Tower, the 70s high-rise in North Kensington where 80 people are believed to have died will face prosecution.

In a statement, Mr Javid told MPs: “There may have been people living in flats that were illegally sublet who have no idea about the true status of their tenancy.

“Their families want to know if they perished in the fire. These are their sons, their daughters, their brothers, their sisters. They need closure and it’s the least that they deserve.

“But that can’t happen unless we have the information we need, so we are urging anyone with that information to come forward and to do so as quickly as they can.”

Mr Javid said it was right that the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, Nicholas Paget-Brown, had resigned following criticism of the authority’s shoddy handling of the tragedy.

The minister said there continued to be a 100% failure rate for combustibility tests on cladding from 181 other high-rise blocks examined so far.

Mr Javid told MPs that the testing process had been independently reviewed and found to be “sound” and that the findings of the review had been published.

New RBKC Leader

Britain’s communities minister welcomed the resignation of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council leader saying on Monday he would work with the local leader’s replacement Conservative Elizabeth Campbell elected on 3 July.

Paget-Brown resigned last week after he was criticised for the council’s poor response to the Grenfell Tower fire, which spread rapidly through the social housing tower block in the middle of the night.

“It is … vital that we put in place long-term support for the longer-term recovery. It was right that the leader of the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea took the decision to move on,” Communities Minister Sajid Javid told parliament.

HOT SEAT: Elizabeth Campbell has been elected as replacement for Nicholas Paget-Brown who quit after Grenfell Tower fire claimed 80 lives


“I look forward to working with the new leader of the council, and I will look at every option to ensure that everyone affected by this tragedy has the long-term support they need.”

The large number of buildings that have failed tests was “obviously disturbing,” Javid said.

“We ourselves have asked questions about the testing regime after discovering the 100 percent failure rate so far. Last week, I asked for the testing regime to be independently assessed,” Javid said. “This was carried out by the Research Institutes of Sweden, and they have confirmed they believe the process to be sound.”

The results of the tests meant the cladding – put on tower blocks for aesthetic and insulation purposes – probably violated fire-safety regulations, Javid said.

“Every failed test means the panels are unlikely to be compliant with the limited combustibility requirement of the building regulations guidance,” he said.

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