A project manager on the Grenfell Tower refurbishment has admitted ‘binning’ her notebooks relating to the revamp despite knowing a public inquiry and police investigation were under way.
Claire Williams, who worked for Grenfell landlords the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), said she got rid of her records when she cleared her desk and left her job almost a year after the fire.
She was questioned after it emerged that her former colleague, Peter Maddison, disclosed notebooks containing ‘material of the utmost relevance’ to the inquiry only at the end of last week.
Ms Williams told the inquiry on Monday: ‘I left the TMO in May 2018 and I binned all of them but the last one, and Kennedys (the TMO’s solicitors) have possession of the last one which covered probably 2017 and 2018.’
Claire Williams, who was a project manager for Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, said she got rid of her records on Grenfell Tower when she cleared her desk and left her job almost a year after the fire
She said she may have thrown out ‘two or three notebooks’ containing records dating back to 2013 when she joined the TMO, which ran Grenfell Tower, adding: ‘If the police didn’t take them, I binned them.’
Chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick asked: ‘You binned them even though you knew, by that time, there was already on foot a public inquiry?’
Ms Williams replied: ‘Everything that was in there I would have thought is actually documented elsewhere.
‘I think I just tidied up the desk. I would have looked at them and thought “There’s nothing here that isn’t in formal evidence”, and so I got rid of them.’
Chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick asked: ‘You binned them even though you knew, by that time, there was already on foot a public inquiry?’ Ms Williams responded by saying she believed the records she had would have been ‘documented elsewhere’
Grenfell United, a group representing bereaved families and survivors, said in a statement: ‘We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the indifference these people have shown us and our loved ones never fails to shock and enrage.
‘That they didn’t care enough to hand over anything and everything that could lead to the truth of what happened to our loved ones is devastating. What else is being hidden?
‘We want to know why the police didn’t discover these notebooks before and whether they will investigate the potentially criminal admission of destroying evidence.’
Inquiry lawyer Richard Millett QC asked Ms Williams: ‘Have you ever informed the Metropolitan Police you had destroyed documents which were relevant to their investigation?’
The tragedy claimed 72 lives (pictured) on June 14, 2017
Ms Williams said: ‘No, I didn’t. Because it’s not occurred to me. Today’s the first time I’ve ever really had a conversation about this.’
She told the inquiry: ‘There was nothing underhand about it. I was clearing my desk, I looked and decided that everything that was in there was formally represented in minutes or other paperwork and it was of little value.
‘It wasn’t a conscious, hiding anything decision, it was ‘I’m clearing my desk’. I put them in the bin.’
Earlier on Monday morning, the inquiry heard that Mr Maddison will need to give a ‘clear and convincing’ explanation as to why he failed to disclose ‘material of the utmost relevance’ to the inquiry into the disaster until the end of last week.
Phase 2 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is examining the causes of the events, including how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread in the way identified by Phase 1
The TMO’s former director of assets and regeneration handed over notebooks and diaries covering January 2013 to May 2017 on Friday afternoon – and is due to give evidence on Tuesday.
Mr Millett said the contents of the notebooks were scanned over the weekend and the inquiry had received hard copies of eight daybooks and five diaries ‘running to some 300 pages or so of often dense manuscript notes’.
He added: ‘They cover all of Mr Maddison’s work while he was at the TMO during that period … They plainly contain material of the utmost relevance.
‘Both Kennedys and Mr Maddison are going to have to give clear and convincing explanations of why these documents were not disclosed to the inquiry and nor, so far as we can tell, to the Metropolitan Police until now.’