Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed two new experts to the independent inquiry panel that is probing the causes of 2017’s Grenfell Tower tragedy, which claimed 72 lives.
A statement from May’s office confirmed that architect Thouria Istephan and housing expert Prof Nabeel Hamdi will join the inquiry panel chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick for its second phase.
The inquiry’s first phase concluded in December last year after taking evidence on how events unfolded on the night of 14 June 2017, when fire broke out and rapidly enfulfed the building’s upper storeys. The second phase will examine “critical circumstances and decisions” that enabled the devastating fire to spread so quickly.
A core element of the work will be examining the “design and execution” of the 24-storey block’s refurbishment, including its cladding with aluminium composite material – widely linked to the spread of the fire.
A recent update from Moore-Bick said the inquiry’s phase two hearings were currently planned to start in January 2020.
Announcing the appointment of Istephan and Hamdi to the inquiry panel, May said she was confident they would bring the “diversity of skills and experience necessary” for the scope and complexity of issues the second phase of investigation would require.
“This will help get to the truth of what happened, deliver justice and ensure that a tragedy like the fire in Grenfell Tower can never happen again,” she said.
Thouria Istephan is a partner and construction design management leader at Foster + Partners, and has previously worked as an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive.
Hamdi is currently professor emeritus of housing and urban development at the Oxford Brookes University’s School of Architecture. He worked for the Greater London Council between 1969 and 1978, where his award-winning housing projects established his reputation in participatory design and planning.