The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire has admitted it may not publish its final report before the seventh anniversary of the industry-changing tragedy.
An update issued by the team leading the probe said the long-awaited document was being held up by the sheer volume of criticised parties needing to be notified.
Retired judge Martin Moore-Bick was appointed on 28 June 2017 to lead the public inquiry into the huge blaze that killed 72 people in west London two weeks earlier.
An initial report was published in October 2019, focusing on events during the fire itself. The second and final study, examining the causes of the tragedy, was initially expected this year, but that had already slipped to early 2024.
Now the latest update has made clear that publication remains some months off.
“As things stand, the report will not be published before April next year but the panel hopes to be able to send it to the prime minister before the next anniversary of the fire, with publication soon thereafter,” said the inquiry in a statement.
The latest delay was blamed on a rule requiring correspondence with a huge number of parties being criticised in the document.
“Not only do we have to allow recipients a reasonable time to respond to potential criticisms, but we also have to analyse their responses in order to decide whether we need to modify our provisional conclusions or the way in which we have expressed them,” said the update.
“Nonetheless, we are probably over halfway through the process, having sent out over 100 letters so far.”
Once the final report has been sent to the prime minister, it will be the government‘s decision when to publish the landmark document. However, the government is widely expected to publish the report promptly after receiving it.
Dame Judith Hackitt last month told Construction News that the industry should anticipate a “fundamental cultural shift” as the building safety overhaul prompted by her 2018 report into the lessons from the Grenfell Tower tragedy slowly clicked into place.
Meanwhile, ministers have begun the process of procuring a replacement firm to maintain the Grenfell Tower site. A contract notice said the £21.3m job would last for an initial three years, with expressions of interest required by 29 December.