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Grenfell Tower fire: Grounds for corporate manslaughter charges

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Police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire say there are grounds to suspect corporate manslaughter may have been committed, reported Sky News (UK).

In a letter to residents affected by the disaster, the Metropolitan Police said both Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation could be prosecuted.

Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said residents "deserve answers" about the fire and the council would support the police investigation and "cooperate in every way we can".

But one MP has said charges of gross negligence manslaughter should be pursued, because corporate manslaughter only carries a fine.

At least 80 people were killed when the blaze ripped through the 24-storey block in west London on 14 June.

The police letter said: "In due course, a senior representative of each corporation will be formally interviewed by police in relation to the potential offence.

"This interview will not take place immediately, since it is important that all relevant facts and information have been gathered before any such interview is conducted."

The force added that the facts were "simply an update on the investigation so far", adding: "The content of this note should not be taken to conclude that the identified offences and organisations are the only offences, organisations or individuals that are being investigated."

Yvette Williams, a coordinator at the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group, said the development would help restore trust between the police and the community.

She said: "We welcome that there is enough information and evidence to go down the corporate prosecution route for the TMO and RBKC.

"However, what we would like to see running alongside that is individuals being prosecuted.

"We want is individuals named and prosecuted - you can have both, but we don't want corporate manslaughter on its own.

"People implement policy, people make decisions, people took particular actions and those people are responsible.

"You can't put corporate organisations in the dock, you put individuals."

Labour MP David Lammy, who lost a friend in the fire, said a fine for any organisation prosecuted "would not represent justice".

He said: "Gross negligence manslaughter carries a punishment of prison time and I hope that the police and the CPS are considering manslaughter caused by gross negligence."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott welcomed the development, but said other issues needed to be investigated.

This included "the treatment of survivors and their families since the tragic events, and more widely how social housing tenants across the country have been treated for years, where outsourcing, deregulation and privatisation have been prioritised over the safety and wellbeing of tenants".

The Labour MP added: "Those responsible must be held to account for their actions, and their neglect."

The council's initial response to the fire was slammed as chaotic and inadequate.

Nicholas Paget-Brown and Rock Feilding-Mellen bowed to public pressure and quit their roles as leader and deputy leader respectively, but the change of leadership has done little to satisfy residents.

Robert Black, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, also stepped down to "concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry".

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