Former fire safety chief breaks down in tearful apology at Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Brian Martin - who was the civil servant in charge of fire safety for 17 years before the fire - told the inquiry “there were a number of occasions where I could have, potentially, prevented this happening”.

A civil servant who was in charge of fire safety before the Grenfell fire has made a teary apology for failing to listen to warnings.

Brian Martin was brought to tears as he gave evidence for the seventh day straight at the Grenfell Inquiry.

The senior civil servant was in charge of fire safety across the country for nearly 17 years before the Grenfell fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017 after flammable cladding caught fire and turned the tower block into an inferno.

Mr Martin admitted in his closing statement that “there were a number of occasions where I could have potentially prevented” the fire from happening.

Brian Martin was brought to tears as he gave evidence for the seventh day straight at the Grenfell Inquiry.

Between tears, he told the Inquiry: “I find it difficult to express how sorry I am for what’s happened to the people of Grenfell Tower.

“Over the last few months, I’ve been looking through the evidence and the documents and when you line them up in the way that we’ve done over the last seven days, it became clear to me that there were a number of occasions where I could have, potentially, prevented this happening.

“I think over time I’d become entrenched in a position where I was focused on what I could do to improve the Approved Documents and didn’t realise just how big the problem was.

He added: “I think as a result of that, I ended up being the single point of failure in the department.”

“That’s why I think we failed to stop [The Grenfell Fire] from happening and for that, I am bitterly sorry.”

Grenfell Tower disaster (Getty Images)

On the previous day of the Inquiry, evidence showed Mr Martin thought a previous fire that killed six people was not ‘severe’ enough for further safety checks.

Mr Martin said the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell was not severe enough to warrant new checks.

In documents seen by ITV news, Mr Martin said he did not need to “kiss the backside” of a coroner after she suggested sprinklers be installed to make tower blocks safer.

The Lakanal House fire killed six people in 2009 after an electrical fault from a TV turned into an inferno.

The senior civil servant was the person in the housing department that everyone would go to for advice, according to Inside Housing.

The Grenfell Inquiry continues.