Grenfell Tower fire: Over 50 people, 19 firms suspected in 2017 London housing blaze

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Fifty-eight people and 19 firms and organizations are suspected of crimes in connection with a fire that ravaged London’s Grenfell Tower in 2017, killing 72 people and prompting national soul-searching over building standards and treatment of low-income communities.

The Grenfell Tower blaze was Britain’s deadliest fire in a residential building since World War Two.

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Prosecutors told a briefing on Wednesday that the charges could include misconduct in a public office, fraud and corporate manslaughter, but were unlikely to be brought before the end of 2026. They did not name the suspects.

Started by an electrical fault in a refrigerator, the fire ripped through the 23-storey social housing block in the early hours of June 14, 2017.

A combustible cladding system retro-fitted to the tower’s exterior helped the flames to spread uncontrollably, while many died in their apartments because they followed official guidance to stay put and await rescue.

The disaster raised the question of whether neglect of an ethnically mixed, largely low-income community had played a part in the high death toll.

London Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said that after publication of the inquiry’s final report, police would need 12-18 months to pass details of their investigation, which has already cost over 107 million pounds ($136 million), to prosecutors to decide on charges.

Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, said it was an “immense” investigation, and prosecutors hoped to be able to make “final charging decisions” by the end of 2026.

In 2019, the first phase of the public inquiry, examining the events of the night, determined that grave failings by the fire brigade had cost lives.

Other issues such design and maintenance failings and safety regulations were addressed during the second phase.

A conclusive report is in its final stages and is due soon.

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