Hearing was shut early last month because of covid positive
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is expected to make a statement tomorrow on whether it can resume as planned next Monday, in the wake of new coronavirus lockdown announced by prime minister Boris Johnson last night.
The team leading the inquiry into the 2017 fire, which killed 72 people, is understood to be considering options for restarting sessions, which were paused a week early on 9 December because of an individual testing positive for coronavirus. Chairman Martin Moore-Bick said it would start up again on 11 January.
It was suspended during the first lockdown from mid-March until early July – but it is not clear whether the inquiry team may will look at options for running it virtually.
The decision comes amid growing pressure on three current and former employees of Arconic, the US-owned firm which manufactured the flammable ACM panels used to clad the Grenfell, to give evidence.
The French citizens, former executives Claude Wehrle and Peter Froehlich, and current employee Gwenaëlle Derrendinger, are using a previously little-known French “blocking” statute which they say prevents them from giving evidence at a foreign tribunal.
Over the weekend, building safety minister Stephen Greenhalgh called on the individuals to testify at the Inquiry in a post on Twitter.
Arconic itself has said it is co-operating with the inquiry and that the witnesses resisting appearing are doing so after seeking their own legal advice.
The inquiry team is also due to make decisions over which ministers and government officials will be called to give evidence in later phases.
A letter from inquiry secretary Mark Fisher to councillors at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, seen by the Guardian, says “the inquiry is currently in the process of deciding which of them should be called to give evidence in person”.
In it, Fisher said both ministers and officials in relevant government departments had been “asked to provide statements to the inquiry relating to their involvement in the matters under investigation and have done so”.