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Summary

  1. Retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick is leading the investigation
  2. The inquiry 'can and will provide answers', he says
  3. The inquiry will examine the cause and the spread of the fire and the actions of the local authority
  4. Sir Martin 'will not shrink' from recommendations that could lead to civil or criminal prosecution
  5. Proceedings opened with a minute's silence to remember the 80 people who died
  6. An interim report is expected by Easter

Live Reporting

By Marie Jackson, Emma Owen and George Mann

All times stated are UK

Live coverage concludes

So, that's all from us for now. Our live coverage is over but we'll continue to cover any important developments on our news site.

'Lack of trust and anger' at inquiry opening

Tom Symonds

Home Affairs Correspondent

Unlike Sir Martin's previous public appearances - when he was heckled by people who survived the fire or live near the tower - his opening statement was heard in silence by Grenfell residents and the bereaved.

But there's still a lack of trust among local people of a process launched this morning at the lavish London Connaught Rooms.

They described Sir Martin as an establishment figure presiding over a public inquiry surrounded by gold leaf.

Outside, the inquiry's critics told us they were angry at his decision not to appoint survivors as part of a team of assessors who will advise him.

The judge says that could damage his impartiality.

Sir Martin's speech focused on his strategy for keeping what could be become a mammoth inquiry on the rails - this includes splitting it into two phases.

The second, which looks at how the refurbished tower ended up a potential death-trap, could be the more complicated.

Sir Martin said the reasoning behind decisions about the tower's management will be a key area of investigation.

It is likely to look at whether cost-cutting led to to fatalities in Britain's worst ever tower block fire.

Pictures: Hugs, teddies and photographs

Emma Dent Coad consoles a Grenfell resident
European Photopress Agency
Labour MP Emma Dent Coad consoles a Grenfell resident.
Tributes left outside Notting Hill Methodist Church
PA
Tributes are left in memory of loved ones outside Notting Hill Methodist Church, where some of the residents watched the opening proceedings.
Lee Jasper, representative for the Asian community of Grenfell addresses the media
European Press Agency
Lee Jasper, a representative for the Asian community of Grenfell, spoke to reporters after the statement.

MP: 'Sitting in a ballroom, dripping with chandeliers'

Emma Dent Coad
BBC

Labour MP for Kensington Emma Dent Coad is highly critical of the choice of venue - the Grand Connaught Rooms in central London - a long way from the tower.

"We were sitting in a ballroom, dripping with chandeliers. It's the most incredibly inappropriate place," she tells the BBC.

"Clearly, the judge felt perfectly comfortable in a place like this - a lot of people didn't."

People feel it was deliberate, to intimidate and make people "feel unimportant and looked down on", she adds.

Sir Martin was clear in his statement that the inquiry would not be held at that venue, and his team were seeking a larger venue.

Full Sir Martin statement now online

Missed any of it? Read Sir Martin's statement in full here.

Sir Martin took a stumble today, says resident

Joe Delaney
BBC

Joe Delaney, who was evacuated from his flat near the base of the tower, says Sir Martin "took a stumble today".

He's concerned that witnesses won't be cross-examined in the inquiry, and says there were "certain people representing groups who I wouldn't want to be speaking on my behalf".

He says he went into the inquiry feeling cautiously optimistic, but came out feeling "more cautious than optimistic".

Of the timetable to produce a first report by Easter, he says: "We don't need some meandering inquiry that's going to take years and doesn't get to any answers."

'A lot of anger from Grenfell survivors'

BBC's special correspondent tweets:

Here's what happened as Sir Martin left

He had said earlier that he would not be taking questions.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick leaves the opening session to shouts from the audience.

And here's where others watched

Sir Martin's opening statement was streamed to a big screen at the Notting Hill Methodist Church.

Press outside Notting Hill Methodist Church in Notting Hill,
PA

Resident: We are waiting for the answers

Sarah Campbell

BBC News

Hamid Wh
BBC

Hamid, who lived on the 16th floor of Grenfell Tower, watched Sir Martin's speech but left feeling he'd learned very little.

We are waiting for the answers. We still need a proper answer. We just want to ask some questions but no chance. That didn't happen."

He says he is still living in a hotel three months on. "I want to get on with my life," he tells the BBC.

MP: Inappropriate venue 'dripping with chandeliers'

BBC assistant political editor tweets:

Mansfield says Sir Martin's departure was 'disrespectful'

Speaking afterwards, Mr Mansfield tells the Press Association he had hoped to ask for a further meeting between Sir Martin and core participants, and said the manner of his departure was "disrespectful".

"I was making a request on behalf of survivors for another preliminary meeting when they would be there as key participants - as they are all going to be core participants - with designated lawyers, to sort out reservations and concerns that they have had from the beginning about this whole process."

Sir Martin exited to shouts of 'hello?' and 'rubbish'

More detail is coming in on what exactly happened at the end of Sir Martin's statement.

Michael Mansfield QC, who works with some of the survivors, said: "Sir, before departing, I wonder if I may make a quick request on behalf of survivors."

He was ignored by the judge as he exited the room to shouts of "hello?" and "rubbish" from gathered residents.

Michael Mansfield standing up as Sir Martin leaves
BBC

Lammy: The families are key

Reacting to the news that no survivors of the fire will be on the inquiry panel, Labour MP David Lammy says:

The families are key and he has to walk and travel with them - follow the evidence, and be uncompromising in his search for it. He's said and he's indicated that that is what he intends to do."

Grenfell lawyer wants social housing and austerity included

Ismet Rawat, from the organisation BME Lawyers 4 Grenfell, said she would prefer a wider scope to Sir Martin's inquiry.

She has been calling for a two-stage inquiry, one looking at what he's described as phase one and phase two, as well as a second stage, looking at issues around social housing and austerity.

This is not a fire that happened in a vacuum. There's a huge context. If it's left outside of this inquiry, we're concerned that it won't happen at all."

Ismet Rawat, from the organisation BME Lawyers 4 Grenfell
BBC

Downing St 'confident' inquiry will get to the truth

A Downing Street spokesman tells the BBC:

As the inquiry begins, we're confident it will get to the truth of what happened and learn the lessons to stop a similar catastrophe happening in the future."

Audience members call out to Sir Martin

Susana Mendonca

BBC Radio London Political Reporter

When Sir Martin Moore-Bick finished up, he and the inquiry team walked out of the room without taking any questions.

A few members of the audience called out to him as he left.

Sir Martin leaving inquiry room
BBC

Pic: Scene outside the inquiry room

A small number of demonstrators held placards up outside the Grand Connaught Rooms.

Placards outside Connaught Rooms
Reuters

Shouts of 'rubbish' as Sir Martin concludes speech

BBC home affairs correspondent tweets:

Evidence gathering 'has begun in earnest'

Sir Martin says it may feel that not much progress has been made since the fire, but it has.

The process of gathering evidence has already begun in earnest, he says.

But there are many witnesses still to be interviewed and documents to be reviewed.

He says he wants to start taking evidence before the end of this year, but that depends on how long it takes to obtain statements from witnesses of the fire.

The interim report, which he plans to publish by Easter, will be limited to the first phase of the inquiry, he explains.

Pic: Familiar faces in the auditorium

Some of those who have faced criticism over their response to the fire are sitting in at the inquiry's opening.

Kensington and Chelsea Council's leader, Elizabeth Campbell, is one of those.

She was photographed as she made her way past a small demonstration outside the Grand Connaught Rooms.

Elizabeth Campbell arriving for inquiry
AFP

Here's how Sir Martin opened the inquiry earlier

Grenfell inquiry chairman says he 'will find answers'

Appeal to people to hand over information

Sir Martin appeals to anyone in possession of information about the fire to do "whatever they can" to preserve the material and inform the inquiry team at once.

View more on twitter

Hundreds applied for core participant status

Sir Martin says he has received 300 applications from people who want core participant status, which entitles them to see evidence, and suggest lines of questioning.

He has already agreed on a number of them, but will continue to consider other applicants.

Witnesses to give evidence 'once only'

Sir Martin says he will only ask witnesses to give evidence once, so he will ask them about thoughts in the run-up to the fire and in the days after, as well as about what happened during the fire.

He says he'll "do everything possible" to ensure giving evidence does not result in further unnecessary suffering.

Sir Martin: The process is not adversarial

All the hearings will be conducted in public, unless the nature of the arguments requires otherwise, he says.

He says he understands lives have been "turned upside down" and there is a "great sense of anger and betrayal".

That is "entirely natural and understandable" but if the inquiry is to get to the truth, we must examine evidence "calmly and rationally".

The inquiry process is not adversarial, it's not to punish anyone or award compensation. It's simply to get to the truth."

Lammy: Inquiry is not a trial

The Labour MP tweets:

Sir Martin outlines the scope of the inquiry

He goes on to outline the scope:

  • The cause and spread of the fire
  • The design, construction and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower
  • The scope and adequacy of the relevant regulations relating to high-rise buildings
  • Whether the relevant legislation and guidance were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower
  • The actions of the local authority and other bodies before the tragedy
  • The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire and the response of central and local government in the aftermath

He says they are deliberately cast in broad terms, and were not intended to be exhaustive.

"It's for me to interpret terms of reference," he adds.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick
BBC

Sir Martin to appoint assistants

He goes on to talk about plans to appoint assistants, including some experts, and says he plans to name some of them "within the next week".

Sir Martin: Many have lost everything

Sir Martin opened by saying:

"We are acutely aware that so many people died and that many of those who survived have been severely affected. We are also conscious that many have lost everything.

"The inquiry cannot undo any of that but it can and will provide answers to how a disaster of this kind could happen in 21st century London", he added.

He paid tribute to emergency services, who risked their own lives, and the local community, who have done so much to help and support each other.

Lammy: You have to have faith in inquiry

Victoria Derbyshire

Labour MP David Lammy, who lost a close friend in the fire, says you have to have faith in the inquiry.

"It's just the beginning. There's no reason to doubt... despite the fact we can't deny the inquiry has got off to a very rocky start."

He said it needed to be uncompromising and look at people in power who had important roles.

Sir Martin begins with moment's silence

The inquiry is under way. Sir Martin says the fire was "unprecedented in modern times".

"It's fitting we should remember with compassion those who died in the fire," Sir Martin says, as the room falls silent to remember.

Grenfell inquiry begins with a silence
BBC

Relatives gather to hear proceedings

The BBC's Lucy Manning is watching ...

Many of the bereaved and the survivors have gathered for the start of the inquiry. They are a mix of nervous, optimistic and angry. They are hopeful the chair of this inquiry will find out why their relatives died and most importantly for them who is to blame. In the minutes before the inquiry they are sitting talking to other relatives and survivors. But some are angry the main opening isn't being held in the community and they are sitting under ornate chandeliers in a venue some think is inappropriate.

Sir Martin to make statement shortly

Sir Martin is due to begin making his statement at 10:30 BST from the Grand Connaught Rooms in central London. Nearby, in Notting Hill Methodist Church, survivors and victims' families are gathering to watch proceedings live on a large screen.

Who is Sir Martin?

Sir Martin Moore-Bick
Getty Images
  • Educated at Christ's College, Cambridge
  • Specialised in commercial law, involving maritime and land transport disputes
  • Spent more than 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal
  • Retired in 2016
  • In November 2014, he ruled Westminster City Council could rehouse a single mother-of-five more than 50 miles away, in Milton Keynes
  • The decision was overturned by the Supreme Court in April 2015
  • Faced calls to stand down from Grenfell families, and local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad

What happened at Grenfell?

Grenfell Tower
AFP

In the weeks and months after the tower fire on 14 June, details of what happened and why the fire spread so quickly emerged.

It started in a fridge freezer and spread quickly through the 24-storey tower block in North Kensington, in the early hours.

The cladding - installed on the outside of the block in a recent renovation - came under scrutiny, with experts saying a more fire-resistant type could have been used.

Forty fire engines and more than 200 firefighters tackled the blaze for 24 hours, but at least 80 people died and 151 homes were destroyed.

More on what happened at Grenfell Tower

What will the inquiry look at?

We know something of the scope of the inquiry already. The terms of reference, which have been accepted by Theresa May, the prime minister, are:

  • The cause and spread of the fire
  • The design, construction and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower
  • The scope and adequacy of the relevant regulations relating to high-rise buildings
  • Whether the relevant legislation and guidance were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower
  • The actions of the local authority and other bodies before the tragedy
  • The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire and the response of central and local government in the aftermath

Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage of the first day of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. Sir Martin Moore-Bick, head of the inquiry, will open proceedings with a 45 minute statement. There'll be no evidence today, or any questions afterwards, but he is expected to give more detail about the scope of the inquiry. Survivors and victims' families will be watching and hoping the inquiry will bring answers to their questions.