The fire in Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 was an unimaginable tragedy that should never have happened.
The Government set up the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to get to the truth about what happened and to deliver justice for victims, survivors, bereaved families and the wider community.
Ensuring that such a terrible tragedy can never happen again remains a priority for this Government.
In February this year, I announced my intention to appoint an additional panel member to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Section 7(1 )(b) of the Inquiries Act 2005 allows me to appoint panel members to the inquiry panel at any time during the inquiry. In appointing a panel member, section 8(1 )(a) and (b) of the Inquiries Act 2005 require me to ensure that the inquiry panel (considered as a whole) has the necessary expertise to undertake the inquiry, and to consider the need for balance, considered against the background of the terms of reference, in the composition of the panel.
Phase 2 of the inquiry is the largest phase in terms of the number and range of issues to be considered, and given the diversity of issues, and the expertise already available to the inquiry, I am pleased to appoint Ali Akbor OBE as the inquiry’s third panel member.
Ali is currently the CEO of Unity Homes and Enterprise, a leading housing association supporting sustainable and diverse neighbourhoods in west Yorkshire. Prior to his role at Unity, Ali was finance director for the Community and Social Services Directorate at the City of Salford. In December 2019, he was awarded an OBE for services to the community in Leeds. His knowledge of, and professional expertise in social housing, local government and community engagement are highly relevant skills and experience which will add great value to the inquiry panel.
I am confident that Ali’s appointment will ensure that the inquiry panel has the diversity of skills and expertise necessary for the scope and complexity of issues to be addressed by phase 2 of its work.
I wrote to the chair of the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, on 12 October informing him of my decision and to seek his consent to the appointment in accordance with section 7(2)(b) of the Inquiries Act 2005. Sir Martin replied on 13 October consenting to the appointment.
Ali will read into the work of the inquiry while he formally steps back from his role at Unity and will join the inquiry panel on 2 November for the start of module 2 of its work. It is intended that Ali will sit for the duration of the inquiry and, alongside his two fellow panel members, will be jointly responsible for the whole of the inquiry's phase 2 work.
Our exchange of letters can be found on gov.uk.