Witnesses being questioned at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry have been told by their lawyers that they will not have to answer questions which could incriminate them in any future prosecution.
Under the Inquiries Act 2005, people giving evidence at an inquiry have the right to withhold information which might incriminate them.
Architects Studio E, current and former staff at the main contractor, Rydon, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation and Harley Facades, which erected the cladding, all requested this right.
Their lawyers said: “The scope of self-incrimination is broad and extends not only to refusing to answer questions or give information that may directly incriminate the witness but also to answer or provide information which ‘might lead to a line of inquiry which would or might form a significant step in the chain of evidence required for a prosecution’.
“Witnesses will legitimately and reasonably be entitled to refuse to answer questions.”
Michael Mansfield QC, who is representing victims, told the inquiry the timing of the application was “highly questionable and highly reprehensible”.
“It has caused immense anxiety, distress and anger at a time which has come throughout a much longer period of waiting after this disaster, of waiting to get to the point of accountability, as it were, to be almost thwarted at the doors of the court,” he said.
Scotland Yard is conducting its own investigation into gross negligence manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences.