LONDON (REUTERS) – A man who claimed he had lost his wife and son in the London tower block blaze that killed at least 80 people has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, police said on Thursday (June 29).
The 52-year-old came forward after Grenfell Tower was gutted on June 14 to say he had lost his family and all his property in the inferno at the 24-storey social housing block in west London.
Policed assigned him specialist family liaison officers to help bereaved families but began investigating his claims after finding inconsistencies in his story.
Residents from neighbouring apartments in the block said he did not live in the tower and officers traced his home to an address in southeast London. They also established he had no wife or child.
He was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of fraudulently attempting to gain money and housing.
Police have said it will be months until the final death toll from the blaze, Britain’s deadliest since World War II, is known, but they believe there were no survivors from 23 of the 129 apartments.
“The distress and suffering caused to so many families and loved ones that night is harrowing,” said Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack who is leading the police inquiry into the fire.
“...The focus of all of us should be on supporting victims and families, recovering loved ones from Grenfell Tower and investigating the fire. However, we will robustly investigate any information about anyone who seeks to capitalise on the suffering of so many.”
On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a retired judge would head an inquiry into the disaster and why the fire spread so quickly.