Making public inquiries transformative : a human rights analysis of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Thumbnail Image
Hennessey, Tom
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Public inquiries in the United Kingdom are fact-finding mechanisms which fit within the truth pillar of transitional justice. Despite their many strengths, their legalistic nature means that (i) they tend to have carefully bounded, technocratic terms of reference which do not often extend to economic, social and cultural issues, and (ii) they offer limited opportunities for victims and survivors to participate. These same concerns, identified in the broader field of transitional justice, have led to the emerging theory of transformative justice. This approach focuses on the lived experiences of victims and survivors, encouraging their participation and addressing the structural violence they face. This thesis posits that adopting a transformative approach, in appropriate cases, would improve the outcomes of public inquiries, by making their analysis and recommendations better informed and more comprehensive, and enabling victims and survivors to contribute fully to their work. Using the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry as a case study, the thesis applies a socio-legal approach to assess a public inquiry for the first time against the analytical framework provided by transformative justice. It finds that, due to the exclusion of economic, social and cultural issues from its mandate, and the limitations of its engagement with victims and survivors, the Inquiry’s work cannot be described as transformative. This has a number of consequences, including the maintenance of forms of structural violence which will continue to affect the lives of victims and survivors, and which could contribute towards future disasters.
transitional justice, victims, participation, transformative justice, economic social and cultural rights, governmental investigations, United Kingdom