Calls for justice as Grenfell Tower tragedy victims are remembered two years on

Stormzy joined thousands of people on a silent walk on the anniversary of the fire.
Stormzy joined thousands of people on a silent walk on the anniversary of the fire.

Stormzy joined thousands of people at a silent walk to remember Grenfell victims, after a defiant call for accountability was applauded at a memorial vigil two years on from the disaster.

Survivors, bereaved and supporters stood in the shadow of the tower block for a multi-faith event in commemoration of the 72 men, women and children killed in the blaze.

Wearing a green scarf, like many others who gathered in west London near the burned-out building, rapper Stormzy walked among the huge crowd, many of whom were carrying Justice For Grenfell placards.

The silent march, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also joined, came after the vigil at which another rapper Lowkey delivered an impassioned speech calling on the Government to take urgent action to get to the truth of what happened and prevent another similar disaster.

Drawing cheers and applause throughout, the performer name-checked a number of firms many survivors and bereaved blame for contributing to the tragedy, and said Grenfell must be a “never again moment”.

He said: “This is a message to the Government and I hope this message breaks through, regulate them before we regulate you.”

Referencing rules around cladding he added: “Combustible and still legal, regulations feel feeble, this has to be a never again moment.”

He said the community demands “truth, justice and peace for all of the lost ones”.

The event followed a private wreath-laying event at which Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and London Mayor Sadiq Khan laid flowers alongside bereaved relatives.

A 72-second silence, one second representing each victim, was also held before the names of all of the dead were read aloud.

Grenfell Tower memorial
A banner called for justice for those who died and the survivors (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Grenfell Tower memorial
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walks with family and friends of the 72 people who lost their lives during the silent walk (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The tower, surrounded by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” emblazoned across the four highest floors, formed a striking backdrop for the sombre evening memorial event.

Applause broke out as a large community mosaic, which has been in the making since just before the first anniversary, was unveiled, featuring words including love, hope and unity.

Earlier, bereaved families, survivors and campaigners set the tone for a day of remembrance as they joined hundreds of people who gathered for a memorial service at a church service nearby.

Friday marked 24 months since a small kitchen fire in a flat on an estate in Kensington turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War, rendering scores of families homeless and triggering both a public inquiry and a criminal investigation.

A number of survivors also marked the anniversary by renewing appeals for urgent safety recommendations to be introduced now to prevent a future tragedy.

Latest figures show some 328 high-rise residential and public buildings are still to complete the replacement of unsafe cladding amid fears over its contribution to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Grenfell Tower memorial
A list of names of the 72 people who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire is carried by marchers (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Grenfell Tower memorial
The mosaic was a site for the community to lay flowers (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The inquiry’s first report, which focuses on what happened on the night the fire broke out, was due to be published in spring but has been delayed until October.

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick has previously said he does not consider it appropriate to make interim recommendations ahead of the report and any recommendations he makes will be limited to the first phase.

But some survivors have become frustrated that safety recommendations, such as abandoning the “stay-put” policy for buildings more than 10 storeys high, are yet to be implemented.

Now lawyers for some of the affected families are calling again for urgent steps to be taken on “basic fire safety measures” to prevent a similar disaster.