Boris Johnson has provoked outrage after appointing a key figure to the Grenfell Tower inquiry who has links to a cladding company.
The Guardian has revealed that Benita Mehra, an engineer, has been appointed to assist Sir Martin Moore-Bick in the inquiry into the disaster that claimed 72 lives.
That’s despite the fact that she previously ran an organisation that received a £71,000 grant from the charitable arm of Arconic, the US conglomerate that made the aluminium composite cladding panels used on Grenfell.
The inquiry has already found that Arconic’s polyethelyne-filled panels were “the principal reason why the flames spread so rapidly up the building”.
Survivors and the bereaved said the grant created a clear conflict of interest and described Mehra’s appointment as “a slap in the face” for their hopes of justice.
Karim Mussilhy, the vice-chair of the survivors and bereaved group GU, said: “How can she sit next to Sir Martin Moore-Bick when Arconic will be on the stand and is one of the organisations we need answers from in terms of what caused the deaths of our loved ones?
“Her society has been supported by Arconic. She will look at it from the perspective of Arconic doing good things for the industry, that they are a great organisation.
“Her perspective will be affected.”
“This has taken us 10 steps backwards”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said there were “robust processes … [to ensure] any potential conflicts of interest are properly considered and managed”, words which have not washed with Mussilhy.
“We will be absolutely furious if she is on the platform and it would be morally wrong to keep this person there,” he said.
“The report from the first phase of the inquiry restored a little bit of confidence.
“This has taken us 10 steps backwards.”