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5 Feb 2020

Robert Booth, The Guardian (UK)

Grenfell Tower public inquiry delayed after corporate witnesses demand for immunity from prosecution

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"Grenfell Tower public inquiry delayed due to witnesses' demands", 4 Feb 2020

The Grenfell Tower public inquiry has been delayed after corporate witnesses threatened not to give evidence unless assured anything they say will not be used in criminal prosecutions against them.

Hearings have been cancelled for the rest of the week...

Survivors and the bereaved have reacted with anger to the request for protection against self-incrimination...

But Moore-Bick is widely expected to ask the attorney general to prevent “the use of evidence given by witnesses … against them in any future criminal proceedings” in order to avoid the inquiry being entirely derailed. Without the agreement, witnesses called during the examination of how Grenfell Tower came to be refurbished in such a dangerous way could simply refuse to answer questions...

Lawyers for the corporates seeking the protection said it was necessary because detectives are investigating possible crimes ranging from breaches of the Health and Safety Act to manslaughter. However, it is unclear how detectives could be entirely restricted from following up leads generated from evidence to the inquiry.

A spokesperson for the inquiry said: “A further announcement regarding the timetable will be made once the panel has issued its ruling on the application.”...