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”.
A killer once dubbed one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed for at least 26 years.
Shane O’Brien, 31, evaded police for three-and-a-half years after he slashed Josh Hanson’s neck in Hillingdon, west London, on 11 October 2015.
He fled the UK, changed his appearance and moved around Europe before his extradition from Romania in April.
O’Brien, who jurors found guilty of murder last month, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.
CCTV released during the trial showed 21-year-old Mr Hanson clutching his neck and stumbling as blood poured out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound.
‘Abrupt, vicious, violent’
After the killing, jurors heard, O’Brien was seen “calmly” walking out of the bar.
He made his way to Ashford, Kent, where a contact had chartered a private four-seater plane to take him to the Netherlands.
The killer grew a beard and long hair and changed his tattoos as he travelled through countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the court was told.
In 2017, the father-of-two was arrested over a dispute in a Prague nightclub but gave police a false name and fled while on bail.
The trial heard the 31-year-old was added to Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists but still managed to lay low.
However, he was eventually caught by Romanian authorities after he contacted Scotland Yard to arrange a possible meeting, the jury heard.
Sentencing the father-of-two, Judge Nigel Lickley QC called it “a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man”.
“The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason,” he said.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey described her son as being “considerate, kind and generous”.
“He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently,” she said.
The victim’s sister, Brooke, said the 21-year-old “was not just my brother, he was my best friend”, and described his “infectious smile” and “magical presence”.
She told the court she had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress since the killing and found herself always wondering if she could have protected him from the “evil” that took him away.
During the trial, O’Brien had claimed he felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” and had only meant to scare his victim.
There were angry shouts of “coward” from the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.
Extinction Rebellion activists are continuing protests despite a London-wide ban by police.
The group says it has taken initial steps towards a judicial review of the ban. Lawyers and politicians have also criticised the move.
Meanwhile climate change protesters targeted the Department for Transport and MI5 on Tuesday morning.
A government spokeswoman said protests “should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives”.
Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, was arrested after climbing on to the entrance of the Department for Transport on Tuesday morning. Police also cleared further protesters from outside the building.
Activists have also been arrested on Millbank outside MI5’s headquarters, where a small group had gathered. Two men briefly sat in the middle of the road before being moved by officers.
The Metropolitan Police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square on Monday evening following 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.
The force said it decided to impose the rules after “continued breaches” of conditions which limited the demonstrations to Trafalgar Square.
Extinction Rebellion said it had taken the “first steps” towards a judicial review of the Met’s “disproportionate and unprecedented attempt to curtail peaceful protest”.
“Our lawyers have delivered a ‘Letter before Action’ to the Met and asked for an immediate response,” a statement read.
Tobias Garnett, a human rights lawyer working for the movement, said the letter warned police to withdraw the order, giving them a deadline of 1430 BST to respond, or else the group would file a claim in the High Court.
“We will be looking for an expedited hearing either today or tomorrow morning,” he added.
The Met confirmed it had received “pre-action judicial review correspondence” alleging Human Rights Act breaches.
“The letter will be reviewed by the Met’s Directorate of Legal Services, and we will respond to the claimant in due course,” a statement read, adding it would be “inappropriate” to comment further.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he is “seeking further information” about the decision to impose the ban and why it was necessary.
“I believe the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the government said the UK was “already taking world-leading action to combat climate change”.
The statement added: “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.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted that “supporting our [police] is vital” and accused the Labour Party of supporting “law breakers”.
‘Overreach of powers’
Meanwhile, lawyers have also questioned whether the ban by police is legal.
Anti-Brexit barrister Jo Maugham QC said the move was “a huge overreach” of police powers, while human rights lawyer Adam Wagner described it as “draconian and extremely heavy-handed”.
Mr Wagner added in a tweet: “We have a right to free speech under article 10 and to free assembly under article 11 of the (annex to the) Human Rights Act. These can only be interfered with if the interference is lawful and proportionate. I think the police may have gone too far here.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: “This ban is completely contrary to Britain’s long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest.”
Allan Hogarth, of Amnesty International, issued a statement saying the ban was “an unlawful restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.
A number of demonstrations have been staged across the capital by Extinction Rebellion, which is calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change.
The protests were due to last two weeks and have led to more than 1,400 arrests.
The Met said there had been 1,457 arrests by 08:45 BST on Tuesday, in connection with the nine days of Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Last week, the Home Office confirmed to BBC News that it was reviewing police powers around protests in response to recent demonstrations.
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 the 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.
A shopkeeper was murdered at his newsagents in north-west London by a “one-man crimewave”.
Alex Gunn, 31, stabbed 54-year-old Ravi Katharkamar to death inside his shop in Pinner at 06:00 GMT on 24 March.
The Old Bailey heard after Gunn attacked the father-of-two, he stole £100 and went on to burgle two homes. He drove off in a car he had stolen.
Gunn was found guilty of murder, burglary, theft and robbery. He will be sentenced on Friday.
Vignarani Aiyathirai, Mr Katharkamar’s widow, said the thought her “kind, humorous and loving” husband was killed over £100, “haunted” her.
“I hate the fact he was alone, that I was not there to hold or comfort him, tend to his wounds or tell him I loved him and that all would be OK,” she added in a statement read out in court.
“I constantly wonder if the man who did this will ever realise or care that he has left such a huge trail of devastation within my family.”
The attack, which was captured on the shop’s CCTV, showed Gunn holding a knife to Mr Katharkamar’s throat and grappling with him before stabbing him in the chest.
Mr Katharkamar was found by a jogger who called the emergency services but they pronounced him dead at the scene.
Gunn, of Pinner Grove, Pinner, will also be sentenced for driving while disqualified, which he had previously admitted.
Describing Gunn as a “one-man crimewave”, prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones QC told jurors he was also responsible for a string of burglaries and thefts to fund his drug habit.
Det Ch Insp Simon Stancombe said the two men could not be more different.
“Ravi was a warm and loving father and husband. A man who worked long hours to support his young family and run his shop in the heart of the local community in Pinner,” he said.
“Alex Gunn, on the other hand, is a career criminal who has spent much of his adult life preying on other people.
“Alex Gunn is an odious, vile and dangerous individual who I am pleased to say will now be in prison for a very long time.”
One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been convicted of murder after a three-and-a-half-year international manhunt.
Shane O’Brien slashed 21-year-old Josh Hanson’s neck after a brief conversation in RE Bar in Hillingdon, west London, in October 2015.
The 31-year-old was on Interpol and Europol’s “most wanted” lists before he was extradited from Romania in April.
An Old Bailey jury deliberated for 55 minutes before finding him guilty.
Council worker Mr Hanson was stabbed in front of his girlfriend and suffered a 37cm (14.5ins) wound from his left ear to the right side of his chest on 11 October 2015, the court heard.
O’Brien walked calmly out the bar before enlisting the help of his friend “Vanessa” to secure a private plane to take him from Biggin Hill airport to the Netherlands, the jury was told.
He grew long hair and a beard and got a tattoo of his child’s name covered over.
He then used false identity documents to travel to countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Friends helped O’Brien avoid police after he was added to both Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists, his trial heard.
Despite being arrested in Prague in 2017 for assault, he managed to flee when he was released on bail and began using the alias Enzo Melloncelli.
O’Brien told jurors he had felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” on the night of the attack. He said he felt Mr Hanson was “ready to attack”.
At bar closing time he approached his victim and asked him, “what’s your problem?”, before pulling the knife from his jacket pocket and fatally slashing him.
He claimed he wanted to “pretend to attack” Mr Hanson in a bid to “scare him”.
“From the bottom of my heart, I did not mean to touch him with that blade,” O’Brien added.
Commenting on the verdict, Mr Hanson’s mum Tracey said: “The aftermath of Josh’s murder has left us broken beyond repair as Josh was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently.
“Nothing will ever erase the CCTV footage of Josh’s final moments from our minds as he was struck with a knife so horrifically and callously, along with his suffering as he tried to fight for his life.”
Det Ch Insp Noel McHugh, of Met Police, said in a statement: “This is the day I, and certainly Josh’s family, almost feared would never come – O’Brien finally convicted of that unprovoked and vicious attack in a bar in Eastcote close to four years ago. And we still do not have a clear answer – why?
“O’Brien is an extremely dangerous individual who murdered a young man in the prime of his life in a packed bar for no reason whatsoever.”
He will be sentenced on 17 October.
Heavy rain is causing travel problems and flash flooding across England.
Twelve flood warnings and 39 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, as are areas around the Whinney Brook at Maghull in Sefton, Merseyside, and Wash Dike in Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
Warnings are also in place for the River Tame at Hams Hall, Water Orton, Whitacre and Nether Whitacre in Warwickshire, and the Blackburn and Charlton Brooks, between Chapeltown and North Ecclesfield, near Sheffield.
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.
In Harrogate, the fan zone for the UCI Road World Championships has been closed due to the “heavy rain”.
The cycling action can still be seen on West Park and Parliament Street, organisers said.
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 was 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 BST along with streets in parts of the City, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.
Among the other activities taking place were 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 by 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”.
Wigan’s Josh Windass is struggling to shake off a calf problem, while fellow forward Anthony Pilkington is sidelined with a quad injury.
Neither Tom Pearce, who has a back injury, nor Gary Roberts is likely to be fit to push for recalls.
Charlton remain without top scorer Lyle Taylor, who picked up a knee injury on international duty with Montserrat.
Defender Jason Pearce is expected to be fit but Lewis Page (Achilles) and George Lapslie (hamstring) are out.
- Wigan and Charlton last met in League One in the 2017-18 season, with the Latics winning 3-0 away and drawing 0-0 at home on their way to promotion.
- Charlton have won one of their five away league matches against Wigan (W1 D1 L3) – a 3-0 win in the Championship in February 2015.
- Wigan Athletic have received more yellow cards than any other Championship side this season (20).
- Charlton have not lost consecutive league matches in 2019 so far, last doing so in their final two games of 2018 against Coventry and Barnsley.
- Wigan are winless in seven matches in all competitions (D2 L5) since winning their first league match of the season against Cardiff City.
- Since the start of last season, Charlton have won 61% (W31 D10 L10) of the games when Lyle Taylor has played, compared to just 23% without him (W3 D5 L5).
The prime minister was visiting the maternity ward at Whipps Cross Hospital when he was approached by a father.
The man told Boris Johnson the ward was understaffed and the NHS was being destroyed.
A spokesman for the prime minister later said Mr Johnson was visiting public services to see for himself the reality of the situation.
They added the prime minister was “not going to hide away from those circumstances when he goes on these visits, and so obviously is keen to talk to people and empathise and see what he can do to help.
“It’s also a reminder of why exactly he is so keen to make the NHS a priority.”
An Extinction Rebellion co-founder has appeared in court charged with attempting to cause disruption at Heathrow airport using a drone.
Roger Hallam, 53, who declared Heathrow expansion “a crime against humanity”, was arrested on Saturday.
He was applauded by a group of supporters as he entered the dock at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Mr Hallam faces one charge of conspiring to cause a public nuisance between 1 August and 14 September.
The charge relates to a plan to fly drones near Heathrow airport “in order to cause widespread disruption”.
The action was part of ongoing protest activity by environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR).
A splinter group of XR, called Heathrow Pause, had threatened to interrupt flights by flying drones within the 5km exclusion zone around the airport.
Asked if he would like to say anything, Mr Hallam, of Putney Bridge Road, Wandsworth, told the court: “Heathrow expansion constitutes a crime against humanity, against the next generation.”
He was remanded in custody to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on 14 October.