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.
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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.