Theresa May’s new chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, was the minister responsible for a review into fire safety in tower blocks which was delayed with fatal consequences.
Barwell was Housing Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government from June 2016 until he lost his Croydon Central seat last Thursday.
In October 2014, he told Parliament that the Government had “committed ourselves” to reviewing building regulations relating to fire safety following a fire that killed six people at the Lakanal House tower block in 2009.
But the Fire Risk Management Journal reported in March that no progress had been made with the review in the months following his promise.
When the Journal raised the delay with Barwell’s department, this is the response they received:
“A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government declined to give a date for the building regulations review, adding that it will place ‘in due course.”
It has also emerged that Barwell’s predecessor, Brandon Lewis, ignored calls from a coroner to fit all high rise blocks with sprinklers, saying it was not the “responsibility” of government.
In light of today’s tragedy at Grenfell Tower, Barwell and Lewis have some difficult questions to answer…