A manager at the firm that made the cladding used on Grenfell Tower warned in 2011 that it was ‘dangerous’ and ‘should have been discontinued a decade ago’, an inquest has heard.
Bereaved families and friends filled the packed hearing room in Paddington, where the inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick opened phase two of the investigation into the Grenfell tragedy today.
The inquiry’s chief lawyer accused corporate companies of pointing the finger at each other over the disaster, without accepting any blame.
Seventy two people died as a result of the blaze at the west London block, after an electrical fault with a fridge freezer sparked a catastrophic fire.
Built in 1974, the tower was extensively refurbished between 2012 and 2016, most significantly when flammable aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding was wrapped over its concrete exterior.
Rydon, the main contractor, said the providers of the cladding and insulation, Arconic and Celotex, had misled buyers into believing their products were safe for use on high-rises despite appearing to know of the dangers.
An internal report from an Arconic director in 2011 noted the material Reynobond PE was ‘dangerous on facades and everything should be transferred to (FR) fire resistant as a matter of urgency’, according to counsel for Rydon Marcus Taverner QC.
The email, sent by the certification manager at Arconic, Claude Wehrle, added: ‘This opinion is technical and anti-commercial it seems.
‘[This] is dangerous on faces and everything should transferred to FR as a matter of urgency. It should have been discontinued over 10 years ago.’
Protesters outside the Grenfell Tower public inquiry in Paddington, London, where the second part of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire opened today
The second phase will consider how the high-rise block came to be wrapped in flammable cladding, the ‘principal’ reason for the rapid spread of flames
Mr Taverner also read out an internal Celotex email from November 2013 which showed officials knew using the insulation CelotexRS500 alongside aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding could be dangerous.
The email said: ‘We cannot seem to find or design a suitable barrier in which we have enough confidence that it can be used behind a standard ACM panel which we know will melt and allow fire into the cavity… Or do we take the view that our product realistically shouldn’t be used behind most cladding panels because in the event of a fire it would burn?’
The company marketed its insulation as being suitable for buildings taller than 18 metres after it decided to get into the ‘lucrative’ high-rise market in 2013, Mr Taverner said.
Mr Taverner also said that Arconic, the cladding manufacturer, was aware that cassette cladding was more dangerous than riveted cladding.
However, a British Boarding Agreement (BBA) certificate issued in terms of the cladding’s safety did not differ between the two types.
He said: ‘The BBA certificate is an important document as it is intended to be and is relied upon by construction professionals, as it was in the case of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment project, to contain accurate statements and information.
‘The BBA certificate misrepresented the position.
‘At the time of the refurbishment, Reynobond panels, even in their riveted form, had been downgraded to Euro class C. Reynobond cassettes were certified as being, at that stage, Euro class E.’
Mr Taverner said it is a requirement that all cladding is classified as Euro Class B.
He said: ‘During the refurbishment Arconic knew that the cassette panels were to be used at Grenfell Tower.
‘They knew that Celotex FR5000, basically the same product as RS5000, was to be used.
Firms involved in the refurbishment of the tower block have refused to take responsibility for the catastrophic fire, despite experts saying the work failed to comply with building regulations.
No company or organisation has accepted responsibility for the refurbishments not meeting regulations, with the inquiry’s top lawyer saying that the 19 corporate firms appear to be blaming each other instead in their statements.
Survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster and relatives of the 72 who died protest outside the inquiry today
No company or organisation has accepted responsibility for the refurbishments of Grenfell Tower not meeting regulations
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which owned the 24-storey block, accepted that it did not meet its obligations
Previously, the inquiry found that many of these refurbishments failed to comply with building regulations, including the cladding.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which owned the 24-storey block, accepted that it did not meet its obligations as set out in building regulations and that a ‘completion certificate’ shouldn’t have been awarded for the refurbishment.
The latest phase was launched days after inquiry member Benita Mehra resigned over her links to the charitable arm of the firm which supplied the cladding.
Counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC, said in his opening remarks: ‘With the sole exception of RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) not a single core participant involved in the primary refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has felt able to make an unqualified submission against its own interests.
‘With that solitary exception Mr Chairman, one finds in those detailed and carefully crafted statements no trace of any acceptance of any responsibility for what happened at Grenfell Tower.
‘Not from the architects, not from the contract managers, main contractors.
‘Any member of the public reading those statements and taking them all at face value would be forced to conclude that everyone involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower did what they were supposed to do and nobody made any serious or causative mistakes.
‘All core participants who played a material part in Grenfell Tower have laid out a detailed case that it relied on others, and how in no way was the work it did either substandard or non-compliant (with building regulations).
‘In every case, what happened was, as each of them would have it, someone else’s fault.’
Mr Millett told chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick he should bear in mind a conclusion reached in the first part of the inquiry, that work ‘did not comply with certain key aspects of the building regulations’.
Survivors’ groups have said phase two of the inquiry must focus on who is to blame for the ‘devastating refurbishment’ of the 25-storey building between 2012 and 2016.
Outside the hearing – which was relocated from London’s legal district, to Paddington, nearer the Tower for its second phase – were a handful of protesters demanding justice.
Protesters outside the Grenfell Tower public inquiry in London, where the second part of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, examining the circumstances and causes of the disaster opened today
The lead architect for the Tower’s refurbishment said it had ‘no knowledge’ that any of the materials used were unsafe and could lead to the deadly inferno.
A statement read to the inquiry on behalf of architects firm Studio E said the company will, ‘where it should, accept any criticisms levelled against it’.
Calling the firm ‘conscientious, ethical, and responsible’, the statement added: ‘This disaster will haunt everyone involved in the project to refurbish the tower.
‘Its witnesses intend and want to give as much assistance as possible to the inquiry.
‘Studio E does believe that the relevant regulatory system was not fit for purpose and appears to have permitted the routine use of unsafe cladding materials on buildings for many years.
‘Studio E, at the time of the project, did not have any knowledge that the products used on the tower were unsafe and there was not information available… which would have alerted it to any lack of safety.
The inquiry’s top lawyer says that the 19 corporate firms involved in the refurbishment appear to be blaming each other in their statements
‘Studio E considers that it acted as would be expected as a reasonably competent architect in its position.’
It added: ‘Product manufacturers produced materials and testing data which had the effect of misleading designers to consider that their products were safe.’
Prashant Popat QC, for Studio E, also suggested that Rydon, the construction and maintenance contractor, had preferred to not use the expertise of the architects at the firm.
He said: ‘When Rydon appointed Studio, E, it confirmed that it tended not to use architects to the extent that other contractors might do.
‘Rydon envisaged Studio E’s role being more responsive with Rydon maintaining a greater degree of control over the design process than Studio E would normally expect from a design and build contractor.
‘Harley was Rydon’s specialist subcontractor to which Studio E understands Rydon had deflected its design responsibility for the cladding facade.
A graphic showing the people who died on the various floors of Grenfell Tower
‘Studio E’s role included providing comments on Harley’s developing detailed design drawings.’
The second stage of the investigation comes after a member of the inquiry panel resigned, after she was linked to a charitable arm of the firm which supplied the tower block’s deadly cladding.
Benita Mehra tendered her resignation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, after it was disclosed that she is an immediate past president of the Women’s Engineering Society which, according to the society’s website, last year received funding from Arconic – the supplier of Grenfell’s cladding – for an apprentice conference.
The first report also accuses LFB commissioner Dany Cotton (pictured) of ‘remarkable insensitivity’ after she gave testimony insisting she would have done nothing differently
Michael Mansfield QC, representing victims, said there has been ‘a stunning silence’ from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office on the resignation of Ms Mehra from the panel on Saturday.
He added there had been ‘not a word about whether there is going to be a replacement’.
Mr Mansfield told Sir Martin it would ‘lend considerable force to this venture’ if he could confirm whether she would be replaced and ‘what the difficulties are’.
The first phase found that systematic failures by the London Fire Brigade caused a greater number of deaths in the inferno.
The report found that fire chiefs’ slavish adherence to the controversial ‘stay put’ policy prevented residents from escaping.
It is thought that up to 55 of the 72 people who died were told to stay in flats for almost two hours after the first 999 call, despite flames spreading with terrifying speed through flammable cladding.
Sir Moore-Bick found that a full evacuation should have been implemented at least an hour before the order was given.
The first report led to an outpouring of anger against then-London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton.
Ms Cotton, 50, the first female commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, was originally set to retire in April 2020, but announced her resignation on December 6 in the wake of criticism over the service’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire.
Ms Cotton had been facing pressure to resign from bereaved families and survivors after the first report from the Grenfell inquiry found that the LFB’s preparation for a tower block fire such as Grenfell was ‘gravely inadequate’ and its lack of an evacuation plan was a ‘major omission’.
The report had accused Cotton of ‘remarkable insensitivity’ after she gave testimony insisting she would have done nothing differently.
It found that the London Fire Brigade’s preparation and planning for such a fire was ‘gravely inadequate’. Experienced incident commanders had ‘no training’ on the dangers of combustible cladding or on how to evacuate a high-rise block.
The tower’s external walls also failed to comply with building regulations. There is ‘compelling evidence’ the walls did not ‘accurately resist the spread of fire’ but ‘actively promoted it’.
Grieving relatives reveal human toll of Grenfell Tower
Victims of the Grenfell fire were remembered during seven harrowing days of commemorations as the inquiry into the disaster opened at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel.
The families and friends of three victims, Marco Gottardi, flat 202, Abdeslam Sebbar, flat 81, and Sheila, flat 137, chose not to publicly commemorate their loved ones.
Here are the people who lost their lives in the blaze, in the order they were remembered by their family and friends:
– Logan Gomes (floor 21)
Logan Gomes was stillborn in hospital after his mother Andreia escaped from the 21st floor with her husband and two young girls.
His mother and father gave an emotional tribute to their ‘beautiful sleeping angel’ sharing images of them cradling the newborn, whose due date was in August.
His father, Marcio Gomes, said through tears: ‘He might not be here physically but he will always be here in our hearts, and will be forever. I know he’s here, with God, right next to me, giving me strength and courage to take this forward.’
– Denis Murphy (floor 14)
Father-of-one Denis Murphy, 56, was described as the ‘lynchpin’ of his family whose ‘cheeky smile’ was hard to forget.
His sister Anne-Marie recalled during her tribute how Mr Murphy had once joined the Unite bus union to the bafflement of his family, as he could not drive a car, ‘let alone a bus’.
‘The reason is that he wanted to be a part of the campaign to make his voice and the voice of the community in Grenfell Tower heard.’
– Mohamed Amied Neda (floor 23)
Mohamed Amied Neda, 57, lived on the top floor of the block and died from injuries consistent with a fall.
Known as Saber, he had fled the Taliban in Afghanistan to find a new home in Britain with his wife Flora and son Farhad, moving into Grenfell Tower in 1999.
His final recorded words – left for family members on the night of the fire – were played during one of the inquiry’s more harrowing moments, and were: ‘Goodbye, we are leaving this world now, goodbye. I hope I haven’t disappointed you. Goodbye to all.’
– Joseph Daniels
Little was disclosed about Joseph Daniels during a presentation on the first day of the inquiry, as his son, Samuel, spoke for only seconds.
The 69-year-old moved to Grenfell Tower in 1982.
Samuel requested no applause before saying: ‘The events of that night took his life and all traces of his existence from this world. He stood no chance of getting out and this should never have happened.’
– Mary Mendy and Khadija Saye (floor 20)
Mary Mendy was remembered in presentations across two days, during which it was heard she had moved to the UK from Gambia, west Africa, in the 1980s.
The 54-year-old died in Grenfell Tower with her daughter Khadija Saye, having moved there in 1993.
A statement by her niece Marion Telfer read at the inquiry said: ‘She was warm and kind, she welcomed everyone into her home. Grenfell Tower was a place all her family and friends could find shelter if they ever needed it.’
Mary Mendy and Khadija Saye
One of the fire’s most high-profile victims, Khadija Saye, 24, died when she was on the cusp of a major career breakthrough.
Her friend David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, was among those on stage during her commemoration, which featured a snippet from the BBC documentary she had been due to appear in, following her as she launched a photography exhibition in Venice.
Her father, Mohammadou Saye, said in a statement read by his solicitor: ‘Khadija said to me one day: ‘Daddy, I’m in love with images’ – it was this passion that Khadija pursued to the end because it gave her great satisfaction and brough her some joy and happiness.
– Debbie Lamprell (floor 19)
The 45-year-old Debbie Lamprell, who worked front of house at Opera Holland Park (OHP), was described as always having a smile on her face and living a ‘happy and fulfilled’ life.
In a statement, her mother Miriam said: ‘She really loved her work, she was really, really happy with her life.
Where the victims were found
‘You rarely saw my Debbie without a smile. People took to Debbie because she was a friendly, easy person.’
– Maria del Pilar Burton (floor 19)
Maria del Pilar Burton is now considered the 72nd victim of the fire, despite dying in January after experiencing a stroke.
The 74-year-old, known as Pily, suffered from dementia, a condition which worsened badly after the disaster and meant she never left hospital, her husband, Nicholas Burton, said.
Her vibrancy and passion for cooking, fashion and dancing were among the qualities remembered by Mr Burton during the inquiry, who said: ‘She was a unique, beautiful, exceptional person until this tragedy had taken it away.
‘It took away her dignity and everything we had in this world. And let me tell you, no matter what indignities my wife had to suffer, my Pily was perfect.’
– Rania Ibrahim, Fethia Hassan, Hania Hassan (floor 23)
Mother Rania Ibrahim died alongside her two young children Fethia, a four-year-old known as ‘Fou Fou’ and Hania, three.
The 31-year-old live-streamed the scene of the blaze to friends and family on social media, who watched helplessly as her flat became clogged with smoke.
Her husband, Hassan Awadh Hassan, who was in Egypt at the time, told the inquiry: ‘I’m not just standing here crying because my wife is gone. My wife and my kids are very lucky. Because the way it’s going, I wish if I go like them. I wait for my day.’
– Choucair family
Three generations of the Choucair family, who lived in two flats on the 22nd floor, were wiped out by the blaze.
Nadia, 33, her husband Bassem Choukair, 40, their three children Mierna, 13, Fatima, 11, and Zainab, three, died along with their grandmother Sirria, 60.
Hisam Choucair, brother of Nadia and the son of Sirria, told the room: ‘In one night I have lost half of my family. I feel like a stranger now. It has destroyed everything. I feel like part of me has been taken away.’
The Choucair family
The inquiry heard how Sirria was particularly close to her granddaughter Zainab, who she looked after while Nadia worked as a school teacher.
Mr Choucair’s sister Nadia was a ‘fighter’ who knew her mind and would always stand up for her rights like their mother, he said.
Her husband Bassem was an ‘excellent father, kind, loving, considerate,’ who was an ‘incredibly conscientious’ supervisor at Marks and Spencer.
Eleven-year-old Fatima was described as a gifted gymnast, while Mierna, 13, loved sports and drawing, and could not choose whether to become a doctor or lawyer.
– Hesham Rahman
Hesham Rahman, 57, died in his flat on the top floor of Grenfell Tower.
During a tribute to him, a moving video montage was played, closing with Omar, his infant relative, saying: ‘We would do so many things together. Those things have sadly come to end.’
His nephew Karim Mussilhy read a poem he had written in February 2016: ‘My will, for who will remember me one day.
‘Remember my presence before my departure. To see a smile on your face when I’m gone, a prayer from your heart.
‘No tears or sadness near my grave.
‘If we shared a memory that’s in your heart, always remember it with a smile.
‘For who will remember me one day, remember my presence before my departure.’
– Anthony Disson
Anthony Disson, known as Tony, was hailed as a doting grandfather who encouraged his children’s passion for boxing.
The 65-year-old was remembered by his family at the inquiry, including son Alfie, who said he had named his baby girl after him.
He said in a video recorded message: ‘If he was here now he’d be over the moon at what we called her.’
– Zainab Deen and Jeremiah Deen (floor 14)
Mother Zainab Deen, 32, died in Grenfell Tower alongside her young son Jeremiah.
She had moved to the UK when she was just 16 and had once dreamed of becoming a pop star.
Her family said she was a ‘beautiful, smart, warm, caring and a confident and outgoing young woman’ with a ‘lively personality’ and ‘great sense of humour’.
One of the youngest victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Jeremiah Deen, two, was said to be ‘loving, full of life, liked playing football and loved exploring and adventuring’.
He was found at his mother’s side on the 14th floor of the block.
He had attended the Clare Garden nursery until his ‘sweet life was cut short’ in the June 14 blaze, his family said, adding: ‘We cannot dwell on the sadness or keep asking the question ‘why this happened to our family’. Neither will we find a reason why such a handsome and cheerful boy was taken from us at the age of two.
– Ali Yawar Jafari (floor 11)
The 82-year-old was fondly remembered by his family as an animal-lover who once waited for three days to free a pigeon whose legs were trapped in twine.
The grandfather, who was pulled from Grenfell Tower by firefighters after losing contact with his family, was described as a ‘kind man and husband’ who loved travelling.
His son Hamid Ali Jafari said in a video tribute: ‘I think the happiest moment he had was when my son was born, because he was attached to him a lot.
‘Both of them were connected to each other so sometimes when I see my son I feel like my dad’s soul came in my son.’
– Gary Maunders (floor 19)
Gary Maunders, 57, was remembered at the inquiry as an avid Manchester United fan who swapped the football for the paintbrush when a top-level career failed to materialise.
He was found in his top-floor flat in Grenfell Tower – and buried in the kit of the football team he cherished.
Ms Pumar, the mother of his two youngest children, said: ‘The loss of their father, his love and presence in their life has been devastating for our children. They miss their dad more than words can describe and have been left with a huge part of their lives missing.’
– Majorie Vital and Ernie Vital (floor 19)
Mother and son Majorie Vital, 68, and Ernie, 50, lived on the 19th floor of Grenfell Tower.
Their bodies were so badly burnt in the fire they had moulded together, her surviving son, whose name was not given, said in a film shown to the room.
He said: ‘It reminded me, as a child growing up he was constantly in my mother’s arms, and when they were fused together it symbolised to me their level of closeness that they had, that umbilical cord, that my brother still relatively had intact.’
– Victoria King and Alexandra Atala (floor 20)
Mother and daughter Victoria King, 71, and Alexandra Atala, 40, were commemorated in a brief statement sent by an aunt who lived in Australia.
Ms King and her sister Penny Pearce had only recently restored contact following years of separation.
She said: ‘Eventually, thanks to the Salvation Army family tracing I was able to get in touch with her and my niece, Alexandra, living in Grenfell Tower. If this had not been the case, no family member would have known they had perished as no-one knew they were still living there.
‘The time we had back being in touch meant a great deal, I wish it had been much longer. They were, and are, still together and that is what is important. The fire is a tragedy for all of us.’
– Tuccu-Ahmedin family (floor 19)
Mohamednur Tuccu, 44, his wife Amal Ahmedin, 35, and their three-year-old daughter Amaya Tuccu-Ahmedin, all died. Amna Mahmud Idris, 27, was visiting her cousin Ms Ahmedin at the time of the fire and also died.
Ms Ahmedin’s sister Feruza Afewerki said: ‘Those we grew up with, who shared our fondest memories with, celebrated and mourned, have had their lives stolen from them while the whole of London watched.’
Winta, whose last name was not given, said ‘cheeky’ Amaya was the love of her mother’s life and her sister Ms Ahmedin an incredible mother.
– Miah-Begum family (floor 17)
Kamru Miah, 79, Rabeya Begum, 64, Mohammed Hamid, 28, Mohammed Hanif, 26 and Husna Begum, 22, were found on the 17th floor.
Their sole surviving immediate family member, Mohammed Hakim, said: ‘I can say with my hand on my heart that I am extremely proud of my family remaining close to each other in their last moments before passing away.
‘I am even more proud as a brother that my siblings did not leave my parents behind, even though they might have had the chance to escape.’
Mr Hakim’s parents, who were born in Bangladesh, had mobility issues. His father had experienced two strokes and a heart attack.
He described him as dedicated father and husband with a heart of gold who loved action movies.
His mother was ‘beautiful, loving and generous’ and full of love and laughter.
Where the survivors were rehoused
Mohammed Hamid, he said, was ‘a trooper, a lionheart, brave and loyal’.
His other brother, Mohammed Hanif, was talented at drawing and design and loved animation and sci-fi movies.
His sister Husna Begum – the family’s ‘perfect little star’- valued her friends and family and would never forget an anniversary or birthday.
– Fathia Ali Ahmed Elsanosi, Abufars Ibrahim and Isra Ibrahim (floor 23)
The 73-year-old was found on the 23rd floor alongside her children Abufars Ibrahim, 39, and Isra Ibrahim, 33.
Her sister Hayat Elsanosi said in a statement read through a friend on Thursday afternoon: ‘Fathia came to this country as a refugee seeking security and safety after her struggle with the regime in Sudan, where she and her children had been subjected to harassment.
She felt safe here in London. Because of the way she died, this now feels like a illusion for us and definitely for her.’
Said Essaouini, the husband of Isra Ibrahim, said he believed she could have escaped but did not want to leave her mother.
He said: ‘I will never find no-one like her, never ever, ever a woman like Isra again, and I am ripped up to pieces, only God knows how much I’m ripped up,’ he added.
The brother of Mr Ibrahim, who he called Fras, said he was a very brave man who loved cooking.
– Ligaya Moore
Ligaya Moore, 78, loved her Grenfell Tower flat on the 21st floor as it made her feel on ‘top of the world’.
She had lived in the UK for 43 years and enjoyed long walks with friends across London.
Her friend Nenita Bunggay said during an emotional tribute that Mrs Moore was her ‘mother, sister, everything’, adding: ‘She was so proud to live in Grenfell. She would always say every time we walked past: ‘Nenita, that’s my building, 21st floor. It’s a big building and I love it so much, even though I’m alone there, I love seeing it every day.’
– Vincent Chiejina (floor 17)
Vincent Chiejina, 60, was found dead on the 17th floor of the tower, on which he lived.
In a video, his younger sister Obi told of how the pair had spent their early years in Nigeria before their family moved to the UK.
As a teenager he loved science fiction and ‘watched religiously’ Star Trek, while he excelled at maths in school.
His sister said: ‘I think he was also quite good at looking after people who were quite vulnerable like himself, so would he never reject anybody just because they were less privileged than himself, and he was always good at spotting that, not exploiting it, but wanting to quietly support them with whatever troubles they had but also making them feel good.’
-The El-Wahabi family (floor 21)
Father Abdulaziz, 52, wife Faouzia, 41, and children Yasin, 20, Nur Huda, 16, and Mehdi, eight, all died.
Abdulaziz, a porter at University College London Hospital for 22 years who was known as ‘Aziz’, was described as a ‘popular colleague known for being kind to his patients’.
Born in Morocco, he moved to the UK as a child and became the heart of the family when his father died.
Mother Faouzia El-Wahabi, was remembered as a wonderful baker who had a talent for sewing.
Yasin was a university student who studied part-time so he could continue his contributions to the community, officiating as a football referee at local games.
Nur Huda was in the middle of her GCSEs when she died and was described as an inspiration to those around her.
‘We all wanted to be like her,’ Mariam El-Wahabi, her younger cousin, said.
The youngest, Mehdi, was described by his head teacher as a ‘true team player’ who loved sports and was particularly talented at karate. He was the ‘baby’ of the family who collected toys and displayed them on his bedroom desk.
‘It is difficult knowing that Mehdi will never be able to play with us ever again,’ his nine-year-old cousin Sara said.
– Khadija Khaloufi
The 52-year-old was remembered by her husband of 27 years, Sabah Abdullah, as a unique person who always tried to make people feel comfortable.
They lived together on the 17th floor, and she was always thinking of and helping her friends and neighbours.
He said their children could not believe what happened to her, adding: ‘I am not trying to make my wife an angel or something, but to them she was more than an angel.’
Her younger brother was not able to attend due to delays with his visa application.
– Jessica Urbano Ramirez (floor 20)
Twelve-year-old Jessica was just two weeks away from celebrating her 13th birthday with a sleepover with friends.
Her older sister Melanie said: ‘Jess was reaching that age where you just begin to plan your future.
Jessica Urbano Ramirez
‘Listening to some of these other pen portraits this week has been difficult for us as we all wish she could have done more and fulfilled her potential.’
– The Kedir family (floor 22)
Hashim Kedir, 44, died with his wife Nura Jemal, 35, daughter Firdows Hashim, 12, and sons Yahya Hashim, 13, and Yaqub Hashim, six.
The family were remembered during a long and poignant series of tributes, which included a video of Firdows singing in front of her school.
Mr Kedir’ father died barely two weeks on from the fire, the inquiry was told.
Relative Assema Kedir Habib said in a statement: ‘I still have a problem accepting the fact that the UK, one of the most powerful countries in the world, could not do anything more in the year 2017 to save them. To save what was left of them.’
– Steve Power (floor 15)
Steve Power ran into the burning Grenfell Tower to make sure his daughter, Sherrie was awake.
The 63-year-old father-of-five was an old-school dance DJ who, despite his white Irish heritage, was known to shout ‘Jah Rastafari’ during sets.
He died with his three devoted dogs wrapped around him, his daughter told the inquiry, adding: ‘He needs justice, all the victims do, because as much as he loved that block he didn’t deserved to die in it.’
– Eslah and Mariem Elgwahry (floor 22)
Mother and daughter Eslah and Mariem Elgwahry died together on the top floor of Grenfell Tower, while brother Ahmed listened to the horror over the phone.
Mariem was remembered for her family-orientated approach to life and her appetite for challenges, ranging from paragliding to endurance events. She had been scheduled to attend an interview for her ‘dream’ job on the morning that she died.
Little was said about Eslah by her son during a poignant commemoration at the inquiry, simply that she was an excellent Egyptian cook in poor health.
Ahmed Elgwahry said: ‘But what I will say is that my mother truly touched many hearts and was a strong woman who raised Mariem and I on our own since my father passed.’
– Berkti Haftom and Biruk Haftom (floor 18)
The 29-year-old Eritrean mother was 10 weeks pregnant when she died.
Berkti Haftom had fled her conflict-ridden home country when she was young, leaving behind a two-year-old son, Nahom Tesfay. She later gave birth to Biruk Haftom, who was 12 when he died in Grenfell Tower.
Her sisters said in a statement read to the inquiry: ‘Our sister Berkti was a brilliant mum. She gave so much love to her sons. Biruk loved her, Nahom loved her and she loved them in return.
Biruk Haftom had celebrated his 12th birthday a few months before the fire.
His family said in a statement at the inquiry: ‘Biruk died with his mum. We have no doubt that our sister would have been holding and hugging him to the last, protecting and comforting her little boy, despite knowing that there was no hope for them inside that tower.
‘Biruk entered this world greeted by love, the love of his mother’s face, and we are sure he left this world looking at the love of that same beautiful face. These thoughts sustain us in our darkest hours.’
– Gloria Trevisan (floor 23)
Italian architect Gloria Trevisan, 26, was robbed of the chance to fulfil a promising career when she died with her boyfriend Marco Gottardi.
At the inquiry her employer Peregrine Bryant said ‘even in that short time she demonstrated what she could do and demonstrated what talent she had’.
A voiceover in a video tribute package said Gloria was a ‘beautiful girl’ whose kindness and big heart ‘didn’t go unnoticed for anyone who met her’.
Her mother told the inquiry: ‘Gloria was a girl full of life. She really loved life and, although she missed the sun, she missed the food and she missed Italy generally, she was very happy for the work and the job that she had found here, so she was happily settled here.’
– Sakineh Afrasiabi (floor 18)
Mother Sakineh Afrasiabi, 65, lived on the 18th floor, but was found alongside her younger sister on the 23rd floor.
She loved the amazing view across London from her flat in Grenfell Tower, her daughter said in a statement read to the inquiry.
She said: ‘I am glad that my mother at least did not die alone but it terrifies me every time I think about how scared my mother and her sister must have been.’
The disabled 65-year-old grandmother should never have been housed above the fourth floor due to her ailments, the inquiry heard.
She was remembered as a big-hearted and caring mother, whose quirks included talking to birds in parks, much to the incredulity of her family.
Her son Sharok said: ‘If you want to look at the face of God, if you want to see what love is, if you are lucky enough to have your mother, just look at your mother – there she is, that’ the meaning of love.’
– Hamid Kani (floor 18)
The 61-year-old Iranian satirist Hamid Kani died just a few weeks away from a return to the country from which, for a time, he was exiled.
Hamid Kani, who lived in Grenfell Tower for 22 years, was remembered as a good-humoured chef whose works ridiculing the Iranian regime saw him hit a travel ban.
Tributes were paid to the 18th floor resident by his friend Masoud Shahabeddin.
The ‘outpouring of love’ that followed the tragedy would have made him ‘proud’, his friend said, adding: ‘I hope this will be the legacy of all the lost souls of Grenfell Tower.’
– Isaac Paulos (floor 18)
There was an emotional commemoration made to the five-year-old who died, his father said, after being told to stay in his burning flat.
Isaac Paulos, the eldest of two little boys, was a ‘beautiful little boy, with so much potential’, the inquiry heard.
The youngster loved school, taekwondo and swimming, he recalled, while teachers spoke of how the outdoor park was his favourite place.
His father Paulos Tekle said: ‘I want to know why I was physically stopped from leaving the flat at about 2am. Why we were kept inside for so long? I want answers. If I had not listened to the fire brigade my son would have likely been alive today.’
– Mohammad al-Haj Ali (floor 14)
The 23-year-old Mohammad al-Haj Ali had been in the process of setting up a new life in the UK after fleeing the war in Syria.
He had chosen to remain in Grenfell Tower as it burnt because he did not want to abandon a child trapped there, his friend Mahmoud Al-Karad said.
‘He was in there with a mother and her child. I told him to get out, that he should leave. His reply shows the kind of man that he was – he said: ‘How can I leave? How can I leave the child?’. He also told me to tell his family that he loved them.’
– Raymond ‘Moses’ Bernard (floor 23)
The 63-year-old Raymond Bernard, affectionately known as Moses, was hailed a hero for sheltering six Grenfell Tower residents in his top floor flat.
The grandfather-of-three, who arrived in 1969 from Trinidad and had lived in Grenfell Tower for more than 30 years, offered his bed to terrified neighbours while he awaited his fate sitting on the floor.
His dog Marley also died in the fire.
‘My beloved Ray was my modern day Moses, my hero,’ his sister Bernadette Bernard said. ‘Ray always had a smile on his face. He knew how to love without expecting anything in return.’
– Fatemeh Afrasiabi (visiting her sister on 18th floor)
Mrs Afrasiabi was born in Abadan, Iran, and was talented at sewing and painting, despite never having had a formal lesson in the latter.
In a video made by Mr Samimi, her daughters recalled how their would make clothes for their dolls.
The 59-year-old would often sing during chores, her daughter Sara said, describing her voice as ‘beautiful’ and ‘truly soothing’.
‘She loved her children, she would do everything for us,’ another daughter said.
– The Belkadi family (floor 20)
The father of Farah Hamdan wept as he paid tribute to the 31-year-old, her husband Omar Belkadi, 32, and children Malak Belkadi, eight, and six-month-old Leena Belkadi, found in her arms.
Farah Hamdan and Omar Belkadi
Hamdan El Alami, speaking through an interpreter, said: ‘Death has separated us, and they left me torn into pieces.
Mr Belkadi, who delivered takeaways, was like a son to him, he said, adding that he was extremely honest and would never say no to him.
The couple’s children were ‘really polite’, he recalled, and he said of his daughter: ‘There is nobody in the neighbourhood who does not know Farah, all people know her.’