Housing

'I misspoke': Lord Pickles apologises for 'indifferent' Grenfell Tower Inquiry gaffe

The former cabinet minister came under fire last week for getting the number of people who died at the 2017 Grenfell fire wrong and claiming he was short on time to give evidence at the inquiry

Lord Pickles Grenfell Inquiry

Lord Pickles angered Grenfell campaigners who accuesed him of being "disrespectful" with his comments at the Inquiry. Image: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office/Flickr

Lord Eric Pickles has apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved family members for getting the number of people who died in the fire wrong and claiming he was short on time at an inquiry into the disaster last week.

The former cabinet minister, who led the David Cameron government’s housing department between 2010 and 2015, sparked anger last week after he incorrectly referred to the “nameless victims” and the “96 people” who were killed in the 2017 fire. In total 72 people died in the fire and all have since been named.

Lord Pickles also told the senior counsel to “use your time wisely” when being quizzed at the inquiry, claiming that he had “changed schedules” to fit his appearance in.

In response, Grenfell United, a group of survivors, residents and bereaved family members, called for Lord Pickles to be removed from government, where he is the UK’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, and for his life peerage to be revoked.

A Grenfell United statement said Lord Pickles’ error and attitude showed the “same indifference and carelessness to public safety he’s always had”.

Lord Pickles emailed the inquiry to apologise for the error, insisting his “mind was also on other tragedies” citing the Hillsborough Disaster where 97 people died – though the death toll only grew from 96 last year. 

“In the last few weeks preparing for the Inquiry my mind was also on other tragedies, including Hillsborough,” said Lord Pickles in the email to Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the chairman of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

“In my final remarks I misspoke and referenced the 96 people that died in and immediately after Hillsborough.

“I apologise to the family and friends of the 72 people who died at Grenfell for this unintended mistake, which was unscripted. The dead are remembered not as a statistic but with dignity by their families, survivors and all of us.”

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is currently in its second phase and is evaluating the role of central government in establishing the legislative regime and formulating guidance before the fire.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?
Angela Rayner announces Labour new town plan
Housing

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know