The Labour group in Kensington and Chelsea is furious after being told it could not have Core Participant (CP) status at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry .
The group says the ruling Conservative administration will have full access to put their case and refute all opposition at the inquiry, which is being headed by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
But leader Robert Atkinson says his group, which represents residents of the Grenfell Tower area and North Kensington, is being denied the same opportunity, and is threatening a judicial review if one is not granted.
He says Mr Moore-Bick has twice refused his group CP status, with the chairman insisting that both groups operate under the council’s CP status represented by the same legal team, despite what Cllr Atkinson calls “a severe conflict of interest” between Labour and the Conservative groups.
Organisations and individuals granted CP status will be able to take an active role in the inquiry process and help shape its direction.
The Labour group had been told by the inquiry’s deputy solicitor that it had CP status under the council CP umbrella.
But following a dispute during the two-day procedural hearings at the beginning of December , the group told Mr Moore-Bick that he is to consider North Kensington Labour councillors as having disassociated themselves from the council’s CP status.
Cllr Atkinson said: “I am appalled that it can be seriously suggested that the same legal team can represent both Labour opposition members and the discredited former Tory cabinet.
“This is like suggesting that a bank robber can be represented in court by a barrister who is also prosecuting them for the Crown Prosecution Service!”
“It’s preposterous that the inquiry chairman refuses to accept that there is a clear conflict of interests because Labour councillors will be hostile witnesses against the council which is why we have applied to be core participants for a third time.
“If we are refused again we will have to consider a judicial review of his decision”.
According to Justice4Grenfell they will have access to public evidence, can make opening and closing statements, suggest lines of questioning and apply to the panel to ask questions of witnesses during a hearing.
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