‘Grenfell needs a judge who can understand humans’ say campaigners
Groups have no confidence in man who wrongly ruled against mum
07 July, 2017 — By Tom Foot
Campaigners have called for Sir Martin Moore-Bick to be replaced
PRESSURE is mounting on the Grenfell Inquiry judge to be sacked after it emerged he wrongly ruled against a single mother in a landmark housing legal challenge with Westminster Council.
The BME Lawyers 4 Grenfell group, Justice4Grenfell, the Lancaster West residents’ group and Labour MP Emma Dent Coad have called for Sir Martin Moore-Bick to be replaced. Sir Martin controversially ruled in favour of Westminster in 2014 when Titina Nzolameso challenged the council’s decision to move her out to Milton Keynes. His High Court judgment was sensationally quashed three months later in the Supreme Court.
“There is no confidence in this process,” said Sue Caro, co-ordinator from Justice4Grenfell group. Ms Coad has called for Sir Martin to be replaced by “someone who can under stand humans”. And a letter to the PM from the BME lawyers group said: “Your lack of consultation has increased the mistrust of both the Grenfell community and the wider community and led to firm opposition to the appointment.”
Westminster Extra, then West End Extra, in 2014 reported how Ms Nzolameso, 50 at the time, had become unable to pay her rent because of the benefits cap, and had argued that the council should lawfully have checked whether accommodation was available in Westminster, or a nearby borough. Sir Martin said in judgment the council “cannot be criticised” for its actions and that there was a “broad range of factors” to consider.
Ms Nzolameso’s solicitor, from Hodge Jones and Allen, said after the High Court hearing that a legal precedent had been set that would have “dire consequences for vulnerable families across the country”. The Supreme Court judge ruled in her favour in April 2015. Westminster Council, because of its woeful record in providing social housing, has for several years been housing residents on its housing list in faraway areas including Milton Keynes, Barking and Newham.
Council leader Nickie Aiken, in a speech this week, said she wanted Westminster to be a place “not just for rich families”. She said: “The City of Westminster always used to contain families – not just rich families, but ordinary working families like my husband’s family – that had been here for generations. “I want to make it possible for young residents of Westminster to imagine a future where they continue to live, work, raise a family and – if they want to – retire in the city.”