Grenfell fire: Retired judge to lead disaster inquiry

Martin Moore-BickImage copyright
British High Commission in Brunei

Retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been chosen to lead the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, sources say.

The government is usually likely to confirm Sir Martin’s appointment on Thursday.

A legal source who has worked with him said he was “highly respected” inside the profession in addition to “intellectually superb”.

Appointing people to lead public inquiries can be controversial – the inquiry into historical child sex abuse has had four chairwomen in three years.

Police have said 80 people are at This kind of point presumed dead inside the Grenfell disaster, which happened in west London on 14 June.

although the final death toll will not be known until at least the end of the year.

Most of those who died inside the fire were said to be in 23 of the North Kensington tower block’s 129 flats.

Victims will have state funding for legal representation at the inquiry.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick

  • Called to the Bar in 1969, became a QC in 1986, appointed to the High Court in 1995
  • Appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2005 in addition to was Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, through 2014 until his retirement in 2016
  • Born in Wales in addition to educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge
  • Married with four children, his brother is usually retired Army general John Moore-Bick
  • Who’s Who lists Sir Martin’s hobbies as early music, gardening, reading

Sir Martin retired as a Lord Justice of Appeal in December.

As a lawyer, he specialised in commercial law before spending more than 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court in addition to Court of Appeal.

The legal source told the BBC: “He (Sir Martin) had a successful practice in shipping law at the Bar in addition to might have had to deal with many technical issues in shipping cases – for example, the causes of a ship sinking.

“This kind of might have meant mastering complex technical evidence in addition to dealing which has a raft of expert engineers.

“Though different in nature, these might be engineering issues of similar complexity to those he might have to deal with inside the Grenfell inquiry.

“He might also have had to deal with heavy engineering issues while a judge inside the commercial court.”

The source added: “He is usually unfailingly courteous (in addition to) prepared to change his mind inside the light of persuasive argument in addition to evidence.”

In November 2014, Sir Martin ruled that will Westminster City Council could rehouse single mother-of-several Titina Nzolameso 50 miles away in Bletchley near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Ms Nzolameso, who had serious health problems, couldn’t afford her London flat after the government’s benefits cap.

Sir Martin said the idea was not necessary for the council to explain in detail what various other accommodation was available.

The decision overturned by the Supreme Court in April 2015.

What is usually a public inquiry?

By Brian Wheeler, BBC News

Public inquiries are set up for many reasons. Sometimes they are designed to expose the truth after a controversy, or apportion blame to individuals.

More often, they simply produce recommendations, which the government can choose to follow or not. Recent examples include Leveson, into press standards, in addition to Chilcot, into the Iraq War.

They differ through police investigations because they are conducted, in part at least, in public. They might even be televised.

They can be run by a judge, with witnesses giving evidence under oath, although there is usually no fixed product. Much depends on the “terms of reference”.

They can also drag on for years in addition to cost millions of pounds – although the government says the idea wants the Grenfell Tower inquiry to “move with speed”.

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