Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Two-year wait for Lakanal House inquest

The burnt tower block in Camberwell
Six people including three children died in Lakanal House

The inquest into the death of six people in the Camberwell tower block fire will not be complete for two years, BBC London has been told.

A pre-inquest hearing into the fire that tore through Lakanal House in south London last July was held at Southwark Coroner's Court on Monday.

But it heard initial police reports will not be ready until June.

And cabinet minister Harriet Harman MP warned the "informal suggestion" is the inquest will only conclude in 2011.

Ms Harman, the Leader of the House of Commons who was attending the hearing in her role as local MP, told BBC London after the hearing: "The report pace is not good enough. They have got to get a move on."

Harriet Harman
The informal suggestion that it will be the year after next is very worrying
Harriet Harman MP

The court heard that even pathologists reports - usually completed within days of unexpected deaths - are not yet finished and are now expected this Friday.

Ms Harman continued: "The informal suggestion that it [the conclusion of the inquest] will be the year after next is very worrying.

"There are explanations that need to be made. They [fire brigade and police investigators] need to account for what they are doing day by day."

The pre-inquest hearing was intended to introduce the coroner in the case, Mr Justice Thayne Forbes, and all the interested parties.

Opening the hearing, Mr Forbes called it a "complex inquiry the importance of which simply cannot be exaggerated".

Detective Inspector Rick Murphy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We are very much still in the fact-finding period of the investigation, conducting research and experiments.

"That forensic work is not going to be complete until at least June next year."

John Hendy QC represents Lakanal victims' families, including Rafael Cervi, whose wife Dayana died in the fire.

Mr Hendy said: "Today is a particularly sad day for him as it would have been his wife's birthday."



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RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian.co.uk Harman hits out at delays to Lakanal House blaze report - 21 hrs ago
Southwark News PRE-ENQUIRY INTO FIRE TO START - 11 Dec 2009



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