Former Grenfell chief still receiving full pay
Leader of management group resigned after fire
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.