From Bhatt Murply Solicitors
Bhatt Murphy clients issue High Court challenge to government failure to implement Grenfell Inquiry recommendations on personal emergency evacuation plans (‘PEEPs’) for disabled people
Bhatt Murphy Solicitors have issued an application for judicial review against the Secretary of State for the Home Department on behalf of Sarah Rennie, Georgie Hulme and CLADDAG, an organisation founded by Ms Rennie and Ms Hulme which campaigns for disabled leaseholders and tenants in residential buildings impacted by the building safety crisis.
The Claimants are seeking permission to bring judicial review proceedings challenging the Government’s refusal to implement October 2019 recommendations made by the Chair of the Grenfell Inquiry mandating PEEPs for all residents whose ability to self-evacuate in an emergency may be compromised.
Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report: recommendations at paragraphs 33.22 (e) & (f):
“…the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law…to prepare personal emergency evacuation plans for all residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised (such as persons with reduced mobility or cognition)” and
“…the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to include up-to-date information about persons with reduced mobility and their associated PEEPs in the premises information box” (“the PEEPs recommendations”)
The The Claimants argue that the outcome of the PEEPs consultation (i.e. the Government decision not to implement the PEEPs recommendations) is unlawful, including because:
a. The failure to implement PEEPs constitutes a breach of disabled residents’ right to life and to freedom from discrimination under Articles 2 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as a breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty, under which the Home Secretary must have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination against disabled people;
b. The consultation process was unfair, including because the Home Office held follow-up meetings with representatives of local authorities and housing associations after the consultation responses had been received, allowing concerns to be raised to which the Claimants and others had no opportunity to respond;
c. The government has failed to understand the rationale behind the PEEPs recommendations: evidence heard by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry concerning the need for all residents to be able to evacuate in certain situations, even in buildings with a ‘stay-put’ strategy.
The Claimants have made an application for the court to consider the case urgently. They expect to hear in around September 2022 whether permission has been granted to proceed.
72 people died in the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. A disproportionate number of those who died were disabled persons whose ability to evacuate via the sole means of escape, the single staircase, was compromised. There were no plans or arrangements in place to assist these residents to evacuate in the event of a fire