Grenfell fire: Retired judge to lead disaster inquiry


Martin Moore-BickImage copyright
British High Commission in Brunei

Retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been chosen to lead the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, sources say.

The government is likely to confirm Sir Martin’s appointment on Thursday.

A legal source who has worked with him said he was “highly respected” in the profession and “intellectually superb”.

Police have said 80 people are now presumed dead in the Grenfell disaster, which happened in west London on 14 June.

But the final death toll will not be known until at least the end of the year.

Most of those who died in the fire were said to be in 23 of the North Kensington tower block’s 129 flats.

Some residents tried to move up the building to escape the flames – and it is thought a number may have ended up in one flat.

Victims will have state funding for legal representation at the inquiry.

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Media captionGrenfell residents challenge the housing minister live on the Victoria Derbyshire programme

In November 2014, Sir Martin oversaw a housing case in which he ruled a London tenant could be rehoused 50 miles away.

His decision that Westminster City Council could rehouse single mother-of-five Titina Nzolameso in Bletchley near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was overturned by the Supreme Court in April 2015.

Ms Nzolameso, who had serious health problems, couldn’t afford her London flat after the government’s benefits cap.

During the case, she said moving out of the capital to Buckinghamshire would deprive her of the network of friends that supported her when she was unwell.

Following the ruling, Jayesh Kunwardia of Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors – which represented Ms Nzolameso – said: “This judgment could have dire consequences for vulnerable families across the country.

“It gives the green light for councils to engage in social cleansing of the poor on a mass scale.”

Sir Martin said it was not necessary for the council to explain in detail what other accommodation was available.


Sir Martin Moore-Bick

  • Called to the Bar in 1969, became a QC in 1986, appointed to the High Court in 1995
  • Appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2005 and was Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, from 2014 until his retirement in 2016
  • Born in Wales and educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge
  • Married with four children, his brother is retired Army general John Moore-Bick
  • Who’s Who lists Sir Martin’s hobbies as early music, gardening, reading

Sir Martin retired as a Lord Justice of Appeal in December.

As a lawyer, he specialised in commercial law before spending more than 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal.

The legal source told the BBC: “He (Sir Martin) is unfailingly courteous (and) prepared to change his mind in the light of persuasive argument and evidence.”


What is a public inquiry?

By Brian Wheeler, BBC News

Public inquiries are set up for many reasons. Sometimes they are designed to expose the truth after a controversy, or apportion blame to individuals.

More often, they simply produce recommendations, which the government can choose to follow or not. Recent examples include Leveson, into press standards, and Chilcot, into the Iraq War.

They differ from police investigations because they are conducted, in part at least, in public. They might even be televised.

They can be run by a judge, with witnesses giving evidence under oath, but there is no fixed model. Much depends on the “terms of reference”.

They can also drag on for years and cost millions of pounds – although the government says it wants the Grenfell Tower inquiry to “move with speed”.




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