“Job done,” tweeted Stormzy this morning after a petition calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower inquiry reached over 100,000 signatures – meaning that the issue could be debated in the House of Commons. The artist had been sharing the petition on his Twitter feed and encouraging his fans to sign it.
This comes days after his historic BRITs performance where he rapped: “Yo, Theresa May, where's the money for Grenfell?” and called the government “criminals” for their actions around a tragedy which is intrinsically connected to race and class.
The petition wants the Prime Minister to overhaul the current inquiry and exercise her powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 to appoint additional panel members with decision-making power. At present, there is a singular chairperson, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, rather than a panel.
The hope is that by switching to a panel format, those affected by Grenfell will have more confidence in the process and will be happy to fully participate.
Grenfell United, the official organisation for bereaved, survivors and community of Grenfell Tower, said in a statement that having spoken to families of the Hillsborough disaster, who went through a similar inquiry process, they are determined that the inquiry must be set up “with an impartial, independent decision making panel with the experience and expertise needed to sit alongside and assist Sir Martin Moore-Bick”.
Theresa May first responded to these calls in December, by saying that Moore-Bick had already appointed a number of advisors. But Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said as far back as July 2017 that local residents had “no confidence” in Moore-Bick's ability to lead an inquiry which has no formal role for any local residents.
Although Stormzy's involvement in the Grenfell Tower tragedy has been widely applauded, yesterday Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell wrote a thinly-veiled racist attack on the “bile and ignorance” of the grime artist, who she said should be grateful for the opportunities growing up in Britain has afforded him and his family.
“Is it asking too much that he show a scintilla of gratitude to the country that offered his mother and him so much? Instead of trashing it,” she wrote. It seems unlikely the same criticism would have been levelled at a white artist whose family weren't immigrants.
The next procedural hearing of the Grenfell Tower inquiry, which will review its own first phase, will take place on 21 and 22 March. Live screenings of the hearing will be available to access from the Grenfell inquiry website.