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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Josh Salisbury

Grenfell survivor says wait for justice is 'torturous' as London marks seventh anniversary of tragedy

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire on Friday spoke of their “torturous” wait for justice on the seventh anniversary of the tragedy.

The blaze in the 23-storey North Kensington tower block on June 14, 2017 killed 72 people and shocked the nation.

But survivors and bereaved are still waiting for anyone to be held accountable, said Edward Daffarn, who lived on the 16th floor of the tower.

“It’s torturous, frustrating and almost unbearable. It should be shocking for everyone, but for us, our lives are still on pause,” he told the Standard from his home.

“There hasn’t been a single click of handcuffs on a single perpetrator of the Grenfell Tower fire.

“It’s impossible to move on from Grenfell, but we do need a resolution, and we need these criminal prosecutions.”

Edward Daffarn (Channel 4 News)

Last month, the Met Police announced there would be no charges brought until late 2026 at the earliest, meaning it will be at least a decade after the tragedy before potential criminal trials can begin.

A total of 58 people and 19 companies have been identified as suspects who could face charges, the Met said.

The second stage report of the Grenfell Tower inquiry will be published on September 4, with Mr Daffarn saying he hoped it will “name and shame the corporates that basically perpetrated the death of 72 people.”

The 61-year-old, who had lived in the tower since 2001, recalled the horror of that evening, saying he initially thought the early morning fire alarm may have been simply someone burning toast.

“But as I opened my front door this black smoke just came billowing into my flat,” he said.

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, left, and Gareth Beeton London Regional Chair of the Fire Brigades Union (AP)

Initially, he planned to follow the ‘stay put’ advice, but he was rung by his friend Willie Thompson, who told him to get out “so powerfully that I didn’t even argue.”

He recounted how he wrapped a wet towel over his face and went out into the smoke-filled hallway, attempting to make his way to safety.

“Rather than getting to the door, I got to the wall just before it and I started pawing at the wall. I just started panicking, and then I let go of my towel and then I started inhaling the smoke,” he said.

“And then literally, at that moment, a firefighter had come through the emergency door, they stood up and they grabbed me, him and his colleague, and pulled me out into the emergency stairwell.

“If I’d been there another minute, I wouldn’t have made it out.”

A street artist works in the Hope Gardens near Grenfell Tower (AP)

Two of Mr Daffarn’s neighbours on the floor, Joseph Daniels, 65, and Sheila, 84, tragically did not survive the blaze.

Mr Daffarn is part of Grenfell United, the community-led group of survivors and bereaved.

It is calling for an independent body to ensure that inquiry recommendations are actually followed, and for a ‘duty of candour’ to be placed on public officials to be transparent when giving evidence.

“Whenever we come to an anniversary, the very first thing we have to remember is for 72 people who have lost their lives,” he said.

“That needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s consciousness on that day.

“For many people, Grenfell was something that happened in 2017. It’s not really in the press that much more at the moment, and many people think that the issues have been resolved.

“And as we sit here today, so few of those issues have actually been dealt with.”

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