The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been condemned for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the Grenfell Tower fire, in a report into the 2017 blaze.
Fewer people would have died in the fire if the LFB had taken certain actions earlier, the report by inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said.
He also said some evidence given by the LFB at the inquiry was “insensitive”.
The BBC has seen sections of the report ahead of Wednesday’s publication.
The head of the Fire Brigades Union said the inquiry was “back to front” and the focus should be on why the building was dangerous in the first place.
Matt Wrack told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that decisions were made on the night “in the context of a building that [had] completely failed”.
Referring to the flammable cladding, he said: “People will be baffled [as to] why people haven’t already been prosecuted for doing that to a building, which led to the deaths of 72 people, and yet the actions of individual firefighters on the night of a fire are being subject to such scrutiny.”
The 1,000-page document follows the first phase of the inquiry, which looked at what happened on the night that 72 people died in the tower block fire on 14 June 2017.
The council, the tower’s tenant management organisation, the police and the fire service were all quizzed during the inquiry’s first phase.
The inquiry has criticised the Daily Telegraph, which first published leaked details of the report, and other media which followed suit. A spokeswoman said publication had deprived “those most affected by the fire – the bereaved, survivors and residents – of the opportunity to read the report at their own pace”.
Sir Martin’s report praised the courage of firefighters on the night.
But it found many “institutional” failures that meant the LFB’s planning and preparation for the incident was “gravely inadequate”.
For example, Sir Martin said control room staff who fielded 999 calls “undoubtedly saved lives” but “a close examination” of operations revealed “shortcomings in practice, policy and training”.
He said staff that night were in an “invidious” position when they were outnumbered by 999 calls.
“Supervisors were under the most enormous pressure, but the LFB had not provided its senior control room staff with appropriate training on how to manage a large-scale incident with a large number of FSG [Fire Survival Guidance] calls,” he said.
“Mistakes made in responding to the Lakanal House fire were repeated,” he added – referring to a fire in Camberwell, south London, in 2009, which killed three women and three children.
By Lucy Manning, special correspondent
This report could not be more critical of the London Fire Brigade.
The Grenfell families wanted this level of criticism, especially those whose relatives died when they were told for nearly two hours to stay put in the building as it was covered in flames.
But there is also some frustration that this first part of the inquiry wasn’t about those who made the cladding and oversaw the refurbishment of Grenfell.
That will only happen in the second phase of the inquiry next year and then they’ve got even longer to wait for the police investigation to finish.
So they are seeing some blame apportioned and they hope they will eventually see justice but the Grenfell survivors will always suffer the loss and grief and ask the question how did 72 people die in what was supposed to be the safety of their homes?
Sir Martin also criticised the LFB for following a “stay put” strategy, where firefighters and 999 operators told residents to stay in their flats for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out.
The strategy was rescinded at 02:47 BST, the report said. Sir Martin wrote: “That decision could and should have been made between 01:30 and 01:50 and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities.”
Firefighters who attended the fire did not have training on how best to combat a cladding fire, the report added.
Four experienced members of the first crews to have fought the blaze had 52 years of combined experience. However, they had not received any training on the risks posed by exterior cladding or the techniques to be deployed in fighting fires involving cladding, the report found.
Sir Martin said the “principal” reason the fire spread so quickly “up, down and around the building was the presence of the aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen panels with polyethylene cores, which acted as a source of fuel”.
The report also said evidence given by the LFB’s commissioner, Dany Cotton, suggested lessons from the fire might be missed.
Sir Martin wrote: “Quite apart from its remarkable insensitivity to the families of the deceased and to those who escaped from their burning homes with their lives, the Commissioner’s evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the LFB on the night, even with the benefit of hindsight, only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire.”
A spokesperson for the LFB said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the report’s findings before they were officially released on Wednesday.
Speaking on Monday, Sir Martin said the report was long and detailed.
He stressed that readers of the report “should understand as clearly as possible the terrifying conditions faced by those who were in the building, at the time”.
The cause of the fire was found by the report to be “an electrical fault in the large fridge freezer in the kitchen” in a fourth-floor flat.
“It occurred without any fault on the part of the tenant… and I am pleased to clear him of any blame, given that some people have unfairly accused him of having some responsibility for what happened,” Sir Martin said.
- Additional reporting by Vinnie O’Dowd.
Where is Mesut Ozil?
It must be a question Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting tired of answering. Or, sort of answering.
The German midfielder has made just one Premier League start for Arsenal this season and has now been left out of the Gunners’ last four matchday squads.
On Monday, his absence prompted more questions, with Arsenal badly lacking any creativity as they fruitlessly tried to break down a solid Sheffield United defence.
In the end, the Blades won 1-0 while Arsenal slumped to another defeat on the road.
Asked by BBC Sport if Ozil was available, Gunners boss Unai Emery simply replied with: “He can help us, yes.”
BBC Radio 5 Live summariser Chris Sutton, however, believes Emery should be more forthcoming.
“It would be nice if Unai Emery just came out and said and then we would know instead of us guessing,” he said.
“Is it a lack of commitment? We know he’s a quality player but do we think he’s lost his guile? His awareness? His touch?
Of course we don’t – so what’s the problem?
That, it seems, is the question on many people’s lips.
Why has he not played this season?
Since joining Arsenal six years ago, Ozil has missed 101 games for the Gunners but has only had one major injury in that time.
Most of his absences have been explained away by illness or minor niggles, while he missed Arsenal’s season opener against Newcastle along with team-mate Sead Kolasinac because of security concerns after they were involved in an attempted car-jacking.
Kolasinac, however, has long since returned to the squad but Ozil has appeared and then disappeared, sometimes because of fitness, sometimes because Emery has felt other players have been more deserving of a chance.
Arsenal? Emery? Ozil? Who is to blame?
Former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie believes this is a situation Arsenal could and should have handled better.
“It’s definitely mismanagement,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
“This is the problem these days in football, these bumper contracts players are getting and when they’re not performing, it’s coming straight to the headlines of how much money he earns and what he does.
“Whether Mesut Ozil is going to turn a corner – and I don’t think he is – it just seems like there is a massive issue behind the scenes as to why he’s not playing.
“On his day he’s a world-class player but when you’re earning that type of money, then you are going to come under scrutiny for earning that money and not playing.
Sutton, however, believes only Ozil himself can truly resolve the issue.
He said: “I don’t care how much Mesut Ozil is paid, the main thing is how he’s is performing on the pitch in an Arsenal shirt – and he’s not.
“We aren’t party to how Arsenal train or what’s goes on but if Ozil was doing that well – and we know what a superb talent he is – Unai Emery would know what impact he would have on the team, so he would play him, because he wants to win games and improve.
“There must be something amiss and it looks Ozil will have to sort this situation out himself.
“Arsenal have either got to ship him out and just bite the bullet, or they’ve got to get him back playing in the side, but it’s been down to their own doing and I feel they’ve caused their own problems.”
Do Arsenal miss him?
The statistics would suggest so.
Since Ozil made his debut for the Gunners, no player has created more chances than him. In fact, no-one comes even close.
|Premier League (since Ozil’s debut)|
He has also been the club’s top assist maker in three of their last six seasons, although admittedly did not feature in the top three of the list in the last campaign.
|Premier League (since Ozil’s debut)|
Against Sheffield United, the influence of the midfield five of Nicolas Pepe, Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock, Matteo Guendouzi and Bukayo Saka paled in comparison to the Blades.
They managed two key passes between them compared to five for the Sheffield United midfield.
What does Ozil say?
Ozil has been quiet on the matter for a long time, but recently provided some insight into the situation he finds himself in.
Speaking to The Athletic, he said: “When I signed the new deal (in 2018) I thought about it very carefully.
“I didn’t want to stay for just one or two more years, I wanted to commit and the club wanted me to do the same.
“You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away and I’m not going to. I’m here until at least 2021.
“Whenever people see me in the street I always say, ‘This is my home’. I’m going nowhere.”
Extinction Rebellion protesters on the streets of London have been labelled “uncooperative crusties” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The demonstrators – who are demanding action on climate change – should abandon their “hemp-smelling bivouacs” and stop blocking roads, the PM added.
Police have already arrested more than 300 people at the start of two weeks of protests by environmental campaigners.
Mr Johnson made the comments at a book launch on Monday evening.
“I am afraid that the security people didn’t want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protesters of all kinds littering the road,” he said.
“They said there was some risk that I would be egged.”
Mr Johnson added protesters could learn from former PM Margaret Thatcher, who he said had taken the issue of greenhouse gases seriously long before activists such as Greta Thunberg were born.
“I hope that when we go out from this place tonight and we are waylaid by importunate nose-ringed climate change protesters, we remind them that she was also right about greenhouse gases.”
Extinction Rebellion activists are protesting in cities around the world, including Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney.
The Metropolitan Police said there have been 319 arrests in relation to the demonstrations since 00:01 BST on Tuesday.
Some 200 campaigners who camped overnight on streets in central London also faced arrest on Tuesday morning after being issued with warnings by police.
Under section 14 notices, which were handed out to tents at around 07:30 BST, protesters will be allowed to demonstrate in a specified location – Trafalgar Square.
Those who do not comply with the order will be arrested.
On Monday, organisers blockaded key sites in central London, in addition to demonstrating outside government departments.
Some glued and chained themselves to roads and vehicles – those who did so outside Westminster Abbey were later removed by police.
The roads behind Downing Street were blocked throughout the day by protesters, some of whom had erected tents in the street and were sitting down and singing songs together.
‘A last resort’
By Becky Morton, BBC News
Behind Parliament Square there are dozens of tents where protesters from Scotland, Cumbria and north-east England have camped overnight.
Mikaela Loach, 21, travelled from Edinburgh on Monday with a friend on a bus organised for protesters.
She says she has attended protests before but this is her first time camping out overnight.
“I was a bit worried about police coming in the middle of the night, but it was a nice atmosphere having people around you that are here for the same cause,” she said.
“I’ve spoken to my local MP, I’ve taken part in protests, I just feel like I haven’t been listened to. This is a last resort,” she said.
“I have been changing things in my lifestyle for a long time to try and be more eco-friendly, but I had a realisation that it doesn’t matter if I go vegan or zero waste if the government doesn’t do anything.
“There need to be big structural changes.”
Extinction Rebellion claims protests in the capital will be five times bigger than similar events in April.
The protests are calling for urgent action on global climate and wildlife emergencies.
What is Extinction Rebellion?
2025group’s aims for zero carbon emissions
298,000followers on Facebook
1,130people arrested over April’s London protests
2018year the group was founded
Source: BBC Research
Extinction Rebellion (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Extinction Rebellion was launched in 2018 and organisers say it now has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
In April, the group held a large demonstration in London that brought major routes in the city to a standstill.
The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern art gallery in London has been home to temporary exhibits, large and small, since its opening in 2000.
Installations have ranged from a giant sun to more than 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds.
Now it’s the turn of American artist Kara Walker, known for her exploration of slavery and racism through paper silhouettes and sculptures.
Her 13-metre-high piece Fons Americana “explores the interconnected histories of Africa, America and Europe… using water as a key theme”.
BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz went along to take a look at the exhibition, which is open until April 2020.
Boris Johnson is to call for the release of jailed British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he meets Iran’s president later.
The prime minister will meet Hassan Rouhani at a UN summit in New York, hours after blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
It comes amid calls for him to take a tougher line with Tehran over its detention of dual nationals.
Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016.
The 40-year-old was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies.
On his flight to New York on Sunday, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I will not only be discussing Iran’s actions in the region, but also the need to release not just Nazanin but others who in our view are being illegally and unfairly held in Tehran.”
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested Mr Johnson should form a new coalition of allies at the UN to call out Iran for its “diplomatic hostage taking”.
And Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the prime minister must tell his Iranian counterpart “enough is enough” and secure his wife’s release.
“I don’t mind how he does that, but this has gone on long enough,” he said.
“Nazanin is at the end of her tether. We have to be clear with Iran that it’s not OK to conduct hostage diplomacy.”
Mr Hunt is supporting Mr Ratcliffe’s move to launch a new campaign group made up of other families of different nationalities with loved ones held in Tehran.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it should be a priority to ensure the price of taking hostages is “too high” for Iran.
“Iran is one of the few countries in the world that seeks to settle disputes by taking hostages,” he said.
He said it is thought other countries’ citizens have been taken hostage in Iran and only by working together can countries find a solution.
“When Europe and the US go separate ways on Iran it doesn’t work,” he said.
Mr Ratcliffe said efforts by Mr Johnson to get his wife released could make amends for comments he made as foreign secretary in 2017, when he said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran teaching journalism.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has always insisted she was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested – and the UK government later clarified it had “no doubt” this was the case.
A number of people with dual Iranian and foreign nationality have been detained in Iran in recent years.
In August, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said a British-Iranian dual national, Anousheh Ashouri, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Tehran after being convicted of spying for Israel.
British-Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Middle East politics specialist at Melbourne University, is being held on charges that remain unclear, according to the Australian government.
Australians Mark Firkin and Jolie King, who also holds a UK passport – are also being detained in Iran.
Earlier this year, the UK foreign office warned all dual nationals against travelling to Iran because of the risk of arbitrary detention.
Tensions between the UK and Iran have worsened in recent months following a row over the seizure of oil tankers in the Gulf.
The meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Rouhani comes after the UK, France and Germany agreed on Monday that Iran was responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.
Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of carrying out the 14 September attacks, in which 18 drones and seven cruise missiles hit an oil field and processing facility.
However, Iran has denied responsibility, accusing the UK, France and Germany of “parroting absurd US claims”.
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said slowly and cautiously, some diplomatic pressure was being applied on Iran.
But he added there was little sign Iran was ready to make any diplomatic concessions, not least while Europe and the US appeared uncertain over how to respond to the Saudi attacks.
Thomas Cook is to hold crisis talks in a final bid to secure a rescue deal.
The meeting with its biggest shareholder and creditors is understood to be scheduled for Sunday morning at City law firm Slaughter & May.
The tour operator could fall into administration within days unless it finds £200m in extra funds.
It comes as holidaymakers staying at a hotel in Tunisia owed money by Thomas Cook were reportedly prevented from leaving the resort until it was paid.
Guests at the Les Orangers beach resort in the town of Hammamet, near Tunis, said the hotel was refusing to let them leave because of concerns about Thomas Cook’s future.
Customers have reported that the hotel is asking visitors to pay extra money amid fears it will not be paid what it is owed by the tour operator for bookings.
‘Being held hostage’
Ryan Farmer, from Leicestershire, told BBC Radio 5 Live the hotel demanded all guests who were due to leave go to reception “to pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook”.
Security guards closed the hotel’s gates as guests refused to pay the extra fee, Mr Farmer claims.
He told the Stephen Nolan show: “I’d describe it as exactly the same as being held hostage.”
The government has been urged to step in to bail out the company amid fears its collapse could leave about 150,000 British tourists stranded.
Concerned customers have been reminded on social media that they have Atol protection – a fund paid for through industry levies – “in the event that Thomas Cook goes into administration”.
The travel firm also reassured customers on Saturday night that flights continue to operate as normal.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union, which represents staff at the struggling travel company, has called on Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to save Thomas Cook “no matter what”.
Government sources suggest ministers are reluctant to help the firm.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes told Mrs Leadsom it was up to the government to save thousands of jobs and to allow Thomas Cook to “flourish”.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said “all viable options” for saving the travel giant should be explored.
She added that “the government must consider stepping in and taking an equity stake to avoid this crisis”.
BBC business editor Simon Jack reported on Saturday that government sources had questioned the financial wisdom of stepping in to save the company.
He said the government did not see its options as being between spending £200m to help Thomas Cook with its cash shortfall or £600m to repatriate its British customers abroad.
Currently there are 600,000 Thomas Cook customers on holiday, of which 150,000 to 160,000 are British.
One of the world’s largest travel companies, Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 to operate temperance day trips, and now has annual sales of £9bn.
It employs 22,000 staff, 9,000 of whom are in the UK, and serves 19 million customers a year in 16 different countries.
Chloe Hardy from Leicestershire is due to get married in Zante in October and booked the wedding package with Thomas Cook back in June 2018.
Chloe and her fiance will also have 33 family members flying out, with their trips costing more than £33,000 in total.
With the big day looming, Chloe is frustrated by Thomas Cook’s handling of their booking.
“I have emailed the wedding concierge and co-ordinator, neither has got back to me. We are unsure if we will be able to fly. Although it’s Atol-protected I have booked three weeks’ leave from work and there’s no guarantee that I will be able to get time off if I had to rebook.”
“We’ve had constant questions from our family that we are unable to answer,” she added. “This is causing great concern, worry and stress to all of us involved.”
Thomas Cook’s financial difficulties have mounted over the past year, culminating with the agreement in August of a rescue deal led by its biggest shareholder Fosun.
In July, Thomas Cook produced a business plan saying that it needed £900m in refinancing, up from a previous estimate of £150m. The £900m would come from Fosun, the group of creditors and some other investors.
The group of lenders then commissioned an independent investigation. Its financial advisers said Thomas Cook would require an additional £200m on top of the £900m already required, which would bring the total refinancing needed up to £1.1bn.
Thomas Cook succeeded in finding a backer to provide the additional £200m, but the BBC understands it has since pulled out.
The firm has blamed a series of problems for its profit warnings, including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit.
What are your rights?
If you are on a package holiday you are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol).
The scheme will pay for your accommodation abroad, although you may have to move to a different hotel or apartment.
Atol will also pay to have you brought home if the airline is no longer operating.
If you have holiday booked in the future you will also be refunded by the scheme.
If you have booked a flight-only deal you will need to apply to your travel insurance company or credit card and debit card provider to seek a refund.
When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017, the government organised to bring home all the stranded passengers, whether they were covered by Atol or not.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
It was a night when “dreams came true” for two emerging English talents.
Manchester United and Arsenal struggled for large parts of their respective Europa League openers, but by the end two teenagers announced themselves on the senior stage.
First, 18-year-old academy graduate Bukayo Saka scored his first senior goal, and set-up Arsenal’s other two, to help the Gunners beat Eintracht Frankfurt.
Then, 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has come through the United youth ranks, rescued Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side from a frustrating draw against Astana with his first goal for the club.
So who are they? What records have they broken and what are people saying about their futures?
‘Greenwood will be a United starter for years to come’
Manchester United are keen to tie Greenwood down to a new contract.
Greenwood signed a professional contract last year but celebrates his 18th birthday on 1 October and United are hopeful of being able to mark the occasion with a lucrative new deal.
“We are always in talks with the boys about how we see the future. Mason is one we want to keep with us,” said Solskjaer.
There are few better places for a Manchester United academy graduate to score their first goal than in front of the Stretford End.
United had been kept out by Kazakh side Astana for 73 minutes on Thursday before Greenwood cleverly cut on to his right foot and finished through the goalkeeper’s legs.
In doing so, the striker became United’s youngest scorer in Europe and the first player born in the 2000s to score for the club.
Greenwood made his United debut in last season’s Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St-Germain, featured heavily in pre-season and came off the bench in the Reds’ first four Premier League games this season.
Last season, he scored 26 goals in 30 games across United’s youth, reserve and senior teams and made his England Under-21 debut earlier this month.
After Greenwood’s match-winning performance against Astana, former Manchester United and England striker Michael Owen told BT Sport: “I really like Mason Greenwood and not just because of tonight.
“I’ve seen him many times in the youth team and he is a proper, proper player. He could be a Man Utd starter for years to come. I think he will be.”
‘He looked better than Pepe’
Saka was making just his fifth senior start as part of an inexperienced Arsenal forward line, alongside fellow academy graduates Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, but was the Gunners’ most impressive player in a tough game in Germany.
The winger set up Willock for the Arsenal’s opening goal, smashed in the second in the 85th minute, and teed up Aubameyang two minutes later.
He was a threat throughout with his pace and trickery on the left flank and the teenager’s goal made him Arsenal’s youngest scorer in Europe since Aaron Ramsey in October 2008.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said Saka looked more impressive than the Gunners’ record signing Nicholas Pepe who joined this summer for £72m.
“They toiled away trying to get young players in and they have found one in Saka,” Keown said on BT Sport.
“You think of the way Pepe is playing at the moment and they paid £72m for him, and this kid looks better than him tonight.”
Saka, born in London in 2001, was given his senior debut in last season’s Europa League and scored five times and made eight assists in 20 games for the reserve side last season.
He has made eight appearances for England’s Under-19s and has scored three times and set up another two.
‘A dream come true’ – what they said
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka: “I’m so happy to score for Arsenal, it’s a dream come true – I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.
“I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”
Shades of Van Persie – what you said on #bbcfootball
Richard Berry: The way Greenwood moves reminds me a lot of Van Persie.
Stuart Mitchell: Greenwood is the best striker to come through the united academy in years, he will have a better goal scoring career than Rashford.
Emil, Stroud: I’ve been watching Mason Greenwood play for the youth team for years. The kids got bags of talent, a real star for the future.
Adam Salter: Saka has grown and grown and grown in this game. Looked nervous at the beginning, but that goal caps a brilliant performance. Easily the Man of the Match.
Fred, Hampshire: Two assists and a goal, looks like Saka may be knocking at the door after all.
About 30 residents have been evacuated and part of a building has been destroyed following a suspected explosion.
London Fire Brigade said it was called to a fire after the suspected blast on High Street in Hampton Hill, south-west London, on Tuesday night.
On social media, one witness described hearing a “boom” before the blaze. No was injured.
Road closures remain in place at the scene, Richmond Council said.
A fourth teenager has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a boy at a chicken shop in central London.
Josiph Beker, 17, was stabbed to death outside Edgware Road KFC, Westminster, at about 14:00 BST on 10 September.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested on Sunday in connection with the murder. He remains in custody.
Two 16-year-old boys were charged with murder on Saturday. An 18-year-old arrested over the murder has been bailed pending further inquiries.