Unite, which is supporting 65 core participants at the Grenfell Inquiry has written to Benita Mehra, who was appointed as an expert adviser to the inquiry by the prime minister shortly before Christmas, urging her to “recuse” herself from the hearing.
It has been revealed that while president of the Women’s Engineering Society from 2015 to 2018, Ms Mehra accepted a grant of £71,000 from the Arconic Foundation, the charitable arm of Arconic. Arconic supplied the flammable ACM cladding which was fixed to the exterior of Grenfell Tower.
Aronic will come under considerable scrutiny during phase two of the inquiry which is due to begin next Monday (January 27).
If Ms Mehra does not voluntarily withdraw from the inquiry, then Unite will directly challenge her participation when the inquiry resumes and will also consider other avenues to challenge her involvement.
In Unite’s letter to Ms Mehra, which was sent by solicitors Howe and Company, a number of the core participants, who are principally bereaved family members of loved ones who died or are survivors of the fire, gave their personal reasons why they believe Ms Mehra is unfit to act as an advisor.
They include: “I strongly disagree with her sitting on the panel and I personally, and many survivors and bereaved families, believe the inquiry should not start while she is appointed.”
“The appointment of Ms Mehra to the panel is not right. She has a clear conflict of interest. If Ms Mehra remains, the inquiry would no longer be legitimate. I would have no confidence in the inquiry or its process. If she does not stand down or is not removed I will consider boycotting the inquiry.”
“The appointment makes me feel as though we are being treated as doughnuts.”
Unite assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett, said, “Benita Mehra has a clear conflict of interest and she should play no role in the inquiry.
“Benita Mehra’s claim that there is no conflict of interest is simply not plausible,” he added.
“If she will not voluntarily stand down, then Unite, on behalf of the people we are representing who survived the fire or who lost loved ones in the tragedy, will examine all measures to ensure that Benita Mehra is forced to withdraw.
“If Benita Mehra is allowed to continue as an adviser any findings or recommendations made by the inquiry will forever be tainted.”