Below are the words of Leslie Thomas QC at the Grenfell Memorial event, a year to the day of the fire which killed 72 people.
Mr Thomas is instructed by Cyrilia Davies Knight, of Hudgell Solicitors, representing 14 survivors, residents and bereaved family members and loved ones at the Grenfell Tower public inquiry.
Yesteryear 72 souls departed from our Grenfell
Today we come together to pray, commemorate, and share.
Tomorrow we will renew, rebuild, remember.
For our loved ones are never forgotten.
My good people tell me what is our promise to them?
We want to ensure that those who remain will have an abode, a residence, accommodation.
But you say what is home?
How does one define good “social” housing?
Are these difficult questions?
No, not really.
Isn’t the answer simply a place where: –
- Our children can play safely.
- Our families can live together, share together, rest together.
- Our elders can reflect on their lives in peace, comfort and harmony.
Remember good people there is no inherent problem with tower blocks.
Tower blocks are the foundations of many strong neighbourhoods and communities.
At their best they are diverse, vibrant, colourful.
Everything synonymous about living a great city like London.
Properly maintained, decent and safe is all we dream for, all we pray for, all we ask for.
Wouldn’t it be great if our homes were not merely seen as investments opportunities, but rather places to live?
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a right to live in a safe and habitable space?
Wouldn’t it be great if our safety was guaranteed and secured with enforceable legal rights?
This isn’t too much to ask for.
This isn’t too much to hope for.
This isn’t too much to pray for.
In the words of the late Dr Martin Luther King
Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
But the conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular because conscience tells one it is right.