For­mer Grenfell chief still re­ceiv­ing full pay

Leader of man­age­ment group re­signed af­ter fire

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Robert Booth Amelia Gen­tle­man

As­sist­ing with mul­ti­ple in­quiries ‘a full-time job’

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of the or­gan­i­sa­tion that man­aged Grenfell Tower is still be­ing paid his full salary de­spite re­sign­ing from his job in the wake of the fire in west Lon­don that claimed at least 80 lives, the Guardian un­der­stands.

Robert Black re­mains on the books of the Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea Ten­ant Man­age­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (KCTMO) and is be­lieved to be re­ceiv­ing a six-fig­ure salary while he helps the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­spond to mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

A spokesman for the KCTMO con­firmed that Black was be­ing paid as be­fore the fire but said that as­sist­ing mul­ti­ple in­quiries into the causes and af­ter­math of the dis­as­ter was a full-time job.

“There’s a dual role for the TMO at the mo­ment,” the spokesman added. “One is to make sure we co­op­er­ate as fully as we can with the inquiry process, and the other is that we have an es­sen­tial ser­vice to pro­vide to ten­ants across the bor­ough.”

A sur­vivors’ group voiced its un­hap­pi­ness with Black’s pay. “It is lu­di­crous and out­ra­geous that he is be­ing paid any­thing,” said Yvette Wil­liams, cam­paign co­or­di­na­tor for the Jus­tice4Gren­fell group.

One of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions that Black is help­ing with is the pub­lic inquiry into the fire, which will be for­mally opened to­day by re­tired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

Wil­liams added: “No one else is be­ing paid a salary to par­tic­i­pate in the pub­lic inquiry. I don’t think peo­ple will be very happy about this but they have the right to know. It is the old boys’ net­work: we al­ways look af­ter our own re­gard­less of what they have done. Class and money still op­er­ates here. This is it.”

Black stepped aside from his role as chief ex­ec­u­tive in June “in or­der that he can con­cen­trate on as­sist­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and inquiry”, the or­gan­i­sa­tion said in a state­ment at the time.

His pre­cise salary is not made pub­lic, but the lat­est ac­counts filed by KCTMO with Com­pa­nies House show that “key man­age­ment per­son­nel”, led by Black, shared £760,000 in salaries.

Three other ex­ec­u­tives, de­scribed as se­nior man­age­ment in ac­counts, re­main in post. They are Sacha Je­vans, Yvonne Birch and Bar­bara Matthews.

An in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive, Elaine Elk­ing­ton, has been ap­pointed to over­see the run­ning of the KCTMO’s re­main­ing coun­cil hous­ing in the bor­ough. She pre­vi­ously spent 10 years at Birm­ing­ham city coun­cil, lat­terly as strate­gic di­rec­tor of homes and neigh­bour­hoods.

The TMO is also as­sist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Lon­don fire brigade and the Metropoli­tan po­lice, which is look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing cor­po­rate man­slaugh­ter charges. In Au­gust, Theresa May con­firmed that the TMO would be re­moved from the man­age­ment of the Lan­caster West es­tate where the Grenfell Tower stands.

KCTMO’s main source of in­come is an £11m an­nual man­age­ment fee from the Royal Bor­ough of Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea to look af­ter its hous­ing. The bor­ough de­clined to comment on the pay­ments to Black. Both the TMO and the bor­ough are set to be key play­ers in the in­de­pen­dent inquiry, which be­gins in Lon­don to­day with an open­ing state­ment from Moore-Bick.

A live tele­vised re­lay of pro­ceed­ings at the Con­naught Rooms in Covent Garden will be shown to lo­cal res­i­dents at the Not­ting Hill Methodist church, close to the burned-out hulk of Grenfell Tower. The inquiry is not ex­pected to start tak­ing ev­i­dence un­til next month at the ear­li­est.

The lat­est in­quest into vic­tims of the dis­as­ter opened yes­ter­day. Westminster coroner Dr Fiona Wil­cox heard that the re­mains of Amna Mah­mud Idris, 27, were dis­cov­ered on the 23rd floor and were iden­ti­fied through her DNA. Sixty vic­tims have so far been iden­ti­fied, rang­ing in age from a still­born baby, Lo­gan Gomes, to 77-year-old Ab­deslam Seb­bar.

The shadow hous­ing sec­re­tary, John Healey, urged the gov­ern­ment not to use the inquiry “as a fur­ther ex­cuse to de­lay ur­gent mea­sures to keep high-rise ten­ants safe” across other parts of the coun­try.

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