Lord Pickles stuns Grenfell inquiry as he says he’s ‘extremely busy’

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Surprising moment Ex-minister Eric Pixar tells Grenfell inquiry he is ‘very busy’ and stop ‘wasting his time’ as lawyers question him over death of 72 in Tower Hell

Former cabinet minister Lord Pickles sparked a backlash after telling the Grenfell inquiry he was “very busy” as he urged the panel to use their time “wisely”.

The Conservative colleague has also been heavily criticised for falsely referring to the “Unknown 96” who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

There are 72 victims in the tragedy, all of whom have been named.

On the day after he gave evidence for the Grenfell inquiry, Lord Pixar appeared to be visibly frustrated by questions about his time in government on all fronts.

The 69-year-old As community and local government secretary from 2010 to 2015, during which time ministers engaged in a “red tape challenge” to cut the Whitehall bureaucracy.

Questions have subsequently been raised about the focus on cutting regulations in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, when combustible cladding helped spread a fire at a tower in west London.

As part of the Grenfell investigation, Lord Pickles appeared to become visibly frustrated in every way as he faced the next day’s questioning

Lord Pixar became furious when asked about documents from his tenure at the evidence meeting today.

He pressed lead lawyer Richard Millett QC to speed up their questions: “In any case, sir, feel free to ask me many questions – but may I respectfully remind you that you did promise that we would leave this morning.

‘And I’ve changed my schedule to accommodate this. I do have a very busy day meeting people.

“It’s more important than anything, but I would urge you to use your time wisely.”

Mr Millett, visibly stunned, replied: “Yes… can I answer my question?”

Lord Pickles said: “I’ve answered, I’m exhausted, this document has no status.”

Lead lawyer Richard Millett QC appeared shocked by Lord Pixar’s remarks before he went on to press Conservative colleagues for answers

Conservative colleagues did later apologise to Mr Millett and the inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick for being “disrespectful” after the proceedings were adjourned.

“As soon as I left the room, I decided to cancel everything,” said Lord Pixar.

“It’s more important than anything I’ve done, and I apologise to you, especially Mr Millett, if I look as if I’m being rude in any way.

“I totally understand what you’re doing well.”

In 2017, Grenfell Tower fires killed a total of 72 people – not ‘anonymous 96’ as Lord Pixar told the inquiry

However, when Lord Pixar got the number of Grenfell victims wrong, he risked further controversy.

As he concluded his evidence session, Lord Pixar referred to the “unknown 96 who were killed”.

“When we’re arguing about throws, it’s them that we should be thinking about,” he added.

“Ultimately, as I think I’ve said before, the dead deserve to be remembered with dignity and the dead deserve a solution.

“I believe you will come.”

Grenfell United, a group of survivors of the tragedy and bereaved families, said they were “speechless” about Lord Pickles’ comments.

“How dare he call the loved ones we lost that night ’96 Nameless’,” they tweeted.

“72 people died in Grenfell, none of them nameless.”

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