Police ‘are considering manslaughter charges’ over the London tower blaze


LONDON — The Metropolitan Police are considering manslaughter charges over the devastating fire that killed at least 79 people at west London’s Grenfell Tower, Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said Friday.

“We will identify and investigate any criminal offence and, of course, given the deaths of so many people we are considering manslaughter, as well as criminal offences and breaches of legislation and regulations,” McCormack told reporters.

Both external cladding panels and insulating material used on the tower had failed safety tests, she said, and the insulation was the more flammable of the two.

Police will determine whether the use of the two materials was illegal, she said.

“Our investigation is seeking to establish how the fire started and the speed that it spread as it took hold of the building,” McCormack said.

“We have been told the speed it spread at was unexpected, so importantly we will establish why this happened.”

She confirmed detectives had established that the fire broke out in a fridge-freezer and was not started deliberately.

Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday said tests had found more tower blocks with “combustible” cladding similar to the type used on Grenfell Tower.

May’s office said later that urgent tests were being carried out on up to 600 tower blocks in England that had used various forms of external cladding.

Statements by local councils and media reports suggest that at least a dozen towers have been found so far with cladding that is considered a fire risk.

The London Borough of Camden said it would remove unsafe cladding found on five towers on its Chalcots Estate in northwest London.

Plymouth Community Homes in the south-western city of Plymouth said it plans to remove cladding from three towers.