Grenfell campaigners 'won the argument' over inquiry panel

Campaigners who demanded changes to the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry have "won their argument", a government minister has said.

In a U-turn, Theresa May announced last week that two experts would sit with the judge investigating the fire.

It followed pressure from campaigners who warned of a "whitewash".

During a Commons debate, the government was urged to act swiftly in making the promised changes "without a battle".

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Survivors wanted "reparation and justice", not charity, Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, who represents the Grenfell constituency, said.

Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd said there was "no intention to hang around" and paid tribute to campaigners, some of whom attended the Westminster Hall debate.

"I have sat alongside the prime minister as she has listened to many of the people sitting at the back of Westminster Hall today while they have made their argument," he said.

"They have won that argument, and I congratulate them on that."

The MPs held a 72-second silence for the 71 confirmed victims of last June's west London tower block blaze and for a woman whose recent death following the fire is yet to be considered by a coroner.

There were calls for a change in the inquiry's rules, to allow routine direct questioning of witnesses by representatives of the Grenfell families, rather than the inquiry's senior counsel.

Mr Hurd said the rules allowed inquiry participants to apply to the inquiry chair to ask specific questions.

Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng, an aide to Chancellor Philip Hammond, said the government - and Conservative MPs - should show more "empathy" in their comments about the fire.

He added: "What I would say to the government and what I would say to members on my own side is that we have to be very sensitive and we have to actually not just give the impression but actually feel that we are batting for the side of the people who have been affected."

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