14/07/2017 Newsnight


How the fire service response to the Grenfell Tower fire compares with services across the UK, a murder trial held in secret and why acid attacks are on the increase.

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Why did it take so long for the London Fire Brigade


to deploy a tall ladder on the Grenfell fire?


It's a more awkward question for the Brigade tonight,


as most other Fire Services tell us they would have sent a tall


ladder out automatically. Vital minutes were lost before that


tall ladder arrived, but its delay appears to be a sign


of a haphazard patchwork of inconsistent policies and plans


among the Fire Services across the country.


The same fire in the same tower block elicits wildly different


responses from Fire Services across the country.


Also tonight: The killing of an elderly and reclusive man in 2006.


The conviction of a Chinese man for the murder in 2009.


I'm the first journalist to interview Wang Yam.


Over the past year, I've spent 25 hours speaking with him by telephone


And we do our bit to kick off the Proms...


Last week, we reported on the often heroic response of the fire fighters


to the Grenfell Tower blaze, and the failings in


The biggest surprise was that no tall ladder was dispatched


to Grenfell until half an hour after the initial call.


This, it turned out, was London Fire Brigade policy,


to wait and see before sending an aerial platform.


Well, we've been doing some follow-up work with the other


Fire Services of the UK, and it turns out that the bulk


London was in a minority in not sending a tall ladder automatically


London has adapted its policy since Grenfell as an interim measure,


but there are still nine other services that don't deploy.


And we've found other differences in plans of different Fire Services.


In other words, this is yet another area where, post-Grenfell,


you examine national policy closely and find it wanting.


A month after the horrifying events of the 14th of June, and a clearer


picture of how the London Fire Brigade responded to the Grenfell


Tower fire has begun to emerge. Last week, Newsnight reported that the


first high ladder, or are real, arrived 31 minutes after the first


fire engine. -- or are real. London has now changed its predetermined


attendance, what it would automatically send to a high-rise


fire, to include a high ladder as an interim measure. But how would other


Fire Services have reacted to a similar fire in a high-rise


building? We contacted every Fire Service in the country to ask what


their predetermined attendance was to a fire in a tower block. We found


that 70% of Fire Services would have sent an aerial ladder. This is


before Grenfell, remember, to any high-rise fire. However, nine Fire


Services, including Tyne Wear, Leicestershire, Kent, Lancashire and


Cambridgeshire will not send aerial ladder in the first instance. The


crux of the problem is this - the same fire in the same tower block


elicits wildly different responses from Fire Services across the


country. Now, take this building behind me. It's a high-rise building


in Essex. And if there's a fire here, the first response of the


local Fire Service won't be to send a high ladder. Whereas in


neighbouring Suffolk, they will. Lauren Irish is a community nurse


who cares for a resident inside a tower block. At the end of the day,


it's a tower block. You hear that it is on fire, why wouldn't you send


the highest ladder you've got to get them out quicker, rather than just


sending a little one? What's that going to do? You know, who is going


to reach the top floor? It's not fair. That's my opinion on it. It's


not. I wouldn't like to be on the top floor. White Essex Fire Service


say that they have inspected all of their high-rise buildings post


Grenfell, and that no changes to their response plans are needed.


Sally leaves Lee led the review to modernise Fire Services in


Queensland, Australia. And aerial ladder is now essential for all --


how are fires in this country. The response time has to be arranged so


that it is within 15 minutes. Any new policy about aerial ladders must


take account of what numbers are needed, because there may not be


enough to really adequately provide the risk that we now know is with


these buildings throughout the country. The differences in


predetermined attendances between various fire rescue services go


beyond whether they send an aerial ladder or not. For example, Kent


sends up three fire Rangers to report a tower block files. Whereas


in neighbouring summary, the same tower block fire gets six fire


engines, and aerial ladder and a command support team. A London Fire


Brigade spokesman told Newsnight... Few could have foreseen what


happened at Grenfell. But after the disaster, questions have to be asked


about whether there should be a national minimum attendance to a


high-rise fire. Can it be right that your post code dictates what kind of


a response of Fire Services will deliver?


Now, if you're interested to find out how your local Fire Service


would immediately respond to a tower block fire, then you can do


so on the BBC's website, where we've created an interactive


We asked the London Fire Brigade for an interview tonight,


as well as each of the other services whose plans don't include


sending a high ladder automatically to a tower block fire,


I'm joined instead by Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the FBU.


Good evening to you. Is there any sense in the position that says you


don't need to send one? London Fire Brigade say, actually, we deal with


these things internally and you assess the situation before you


deploy. There's a logic to what London Fire Brigade are saying,


firefighters are trained to fight tower block fires internally because


of compartmentalisation. We've discussed this before, and using


internal tri- rising mains and so on. What Grenfell Tower has


demonstrated is that the risk has clearly changed, because that is


premised on the basis that the fire will not spread externally.


Including we have a case where fire did spread externally and we now


find that other tower blocks around the country are feeling similar


tests? Should we always be sending high ladders, or now we have seen


that we have got dangerous cladding on buildings that we haven't


understood and we have seen the risk, it is time to learn from that


and sent the aerials? There are two points. The other point you have


raised, the number of fire engines, is a key issue. The number of


firefighters is crucial. In terms of high reach vehicles, aerial


appliances, we would generally have said that they should always be in


tower block fires. Your position is that they always go, but especially


after Grenfell? Yes. Why would they not send them out? Is it expensive?


Aerial ladders and high reach vehicles, the problem that we have


had is that they are very specialist. They therefore used


rarely. Sometimes people could use them and don't use them. But they


are just sitting around. If they are not being taken to a fire...


Firefighters can do lots of other things. One of the problems we have


identified in our own research is actually, it is also about speed,


how quickly do fire engines get that? The majority of aerial


appliances in the UK or not permanently crewed. There are even


further delays. If you put them on the PDA, the predetermined


attendance, you will probably have to have them always screwed up and


it might cost them more? That makes sense. The London ones are


permanently crewed. Matt, do you trust the people who are running the


Fire Services of the UK to be competent at making these decisions?


Well, we have raised concerns about this sort of issue for more than a


decade. We used to have national standards of fire cover. We now have


local so-called risk management plans. What they are in reality is


budget management plans. You see that the risk assessments over time,


as budgets are squeezed, the response is declined over the past


few years. In a way, the Government says, look, we leave this up to the


local people because they will make up their mind. Many of them visit


the individual buildings were talking about, so they know the


buildings. In Kent they said, we don't need to send the aerial


initially... At the turn-of-the-century it was


Government funded research about what firefighters do a different


types of incidents. You could map out how many firefighters you need


to fight a fire in a terraced house, a tower block and so on. I have to


say, that was Government funded, we've done similar research


ourselves. The idea... It depends how many firefighters or on the fire


engine, because the number of fire engine itself may not be an adequate


clue, how many firefighters are on each fire engine, the idea of


sending three in our view is completely inadequate to fight a


fire in a tower block. Matt Wrack, thank you. London have at least as


an interim measure it changed their policy sets the Grenfell fire. --


since the Grenfell fire. On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal


will examine whether to overturn the conviction of a man


who is in jail on a minimum 20-year It's a case that goes back


to the violent killing in 2006 of an elderly man in a leafy,


prosperous part of North London. It was unique in that


some of the subsequent Did that contribute to a potential


miscarriage of justice? Well, all such cases of course


invite the question - did the man convicted of the crime


do it or not? But this one is complicated by


an association between the Chinese It means reporting restrictions


apply in this case. But the journalist and writer


Thomas Harding, who lived in the neighbourhood of the murder,


has been intrigued by what happened. He's written a book


on it and interviewed He's authored this film for us


on the case, and there are some Alan Chappelow was bludgeoned


to death in his home in 2006. The man convicted of his killing,


a Chinese dissident who was somehow connected to the secret


intelligence service MI6. The case has always been shrouded


in mystery as the first murder trial in modern times to be held


partly in secret. The Court of Appeal is due to decide


whether the guilty verdict We've spoken exclusively


to the man behind bars, who always claimed he suffered


a miscarriage of justice. I knew the victim Alan Chappelow


as the eccentric who lived four After he was killed,


the house was knocked It's recently been on the market


for over ?14 million. I've spent the past year writing


a book about this story. I want to get to the bottom


of what happened to my neighbour. An author and photographer,


who wrote about George Bernard Shaw, Peter Tausig lived two doors down


the street from him. Alan Chappelow was part


of Downshire Hill. He was one of the


original characters. One would always see him wandering


up and down the street in his grubby raincoat with his belt tied


round his waist or on his old motorbike which he


kept in the garden. But he was so incredibly proud


of this ramshackle house. You used to see him up on the roof


repairing leaks with Sellotape. I felt terribly sad


when I heard about his death. Police found 86-year-old


Alan Chappelow's body buried under half a tonne of his own book


manuscripts after being strangled Over the past year, I've had


a number of conversations with Peter Lansdowne,


the murder inquiry's senior He is portrayed in our


film by an actor. It was a real whodunnit, it took two


days of searching his house. Lansdowne believes


Alan Chappelow had been the victim of fraud,


which led to a burglary gone wrong. You have seen a lot of murders,


have you ever seen any bungled burglary with such


a high-level of violence? Does that raise


questions in your head? I'm still supremely confident


we've got the right man. I find it hard to believe that those


brutal pictures of Alan were the result of a robbery that


had gone wrong. Keri Nixon is an expert


in criminal behaviour. This is an excessive


use of violence, if it The burglar would likely use some


violence to incapacitate the person and they would get out as quickly


as they could. What they have done here,


they've used an excessive use of violence and they've then taken


a long time to bury the body amongst all the manuscripts and rubbish


that we can see here. Just days before he was killed,


Alan called the Inland Revenue, worried he'd been a victim


of mail fraud. This is the audio


recording of that call. Within days of finding the body,


the police had identified their prime suspect,


Wang Yam, a 45-year-old Chinese dissident who lived


here on Denning Road. Less than five minutes walk


from Alan Chappelow's home. When they arrived at his flat


to arrest him they soon discovered that their suspect had


fled to Switzerland. The police went through Wang Yam's


rubbish and discovered that he had been involved with various


suspicious financial dealings. Soon after, they obtained CCTV


images of him using Alan's But they found no forensic evidence


tying Wang Yam to the crime scene. The police also had audio recordings


of a Chinese sounding man calling banks and pretending


to be Alan Chappelow. How as a police officer do


you then go to the murder, All of the transactions


on the victim's account were linked to Wang Yam or an Oriental male


with similarities to him, so circumstantially


everything adds up. And the answer has to be


very, very unlikely. There is no evidence that he'd


ever been in the house? No evidence he'd ever


touched Chappelow? No evidence full stop.


No witnesses, nothing. But no evidence that


anyone else had either. Could there be another


viable alternative? Wang Yam is currently serving a 20


year sentence and is being held He continues to maintain


that he's innocent. I'm the first journalist


to interview Wang Yam. Over the past year I've spent 25


hours speaking with him Following his arrest


in Switzerland, Wang Yam Kirsty Brimelow QC has


represented him from the beginning. So, Kirsty, why do you think your


client was innocent? There was no evidence


at all forensically that he had There was no traces of blood found


upon clothing and there were no He had no history of violence


and to beat someone to death where you have not a violent bone


in your body is unusual I've been given exclusive access


to correspondence written by Wang Yam's solicitors to the CPS


before the murder trial. It is clear from this


that his lawyers felt that crucial information was not being disclosed,


in particular Wang Yam's His lawyers also attached this


letter from the Ministry of Defence which invited Wang Yam


in for an interview and thanked him Because of a 2008 court order we're


not allowed to learn any more about Wang Yam's work for MI6 or how


it relates to his defence. I questioned Wang Yam


about whether he'd asked the police to get in touch with MI6


after being arrested. You had told them already off


the record that you were with MI6? What I can tell you,


and this was in open court, is that he was trying to get


alongside pretty serious criminals in order to gather information


as to their illegal activity. To take that information and report


to the appropriate authorities. His defence given in open court


was that he was gathering information of illegal activity


and was taking that information to report back


to appropriate authorities. I can't tell you any more


as to who those authorities were and as to why he was in that


position in the first place. Because all of that was


in camera, in secret. A few weeks after I started speaking


to Wang Yam, I received a letter from the Attorney General's Office,


letting me know that they were aware of my research and reminding me


of the court's press restrictions. It stated, "Breach of this order


is a contempt of court". Somebody murdered Alan Chappelow,


there was no other option. That is what you have to rely


on at the end of the day. There wasn't an alternative,


and almost without exception, I think it is without exception,


if it looks like a murderer, and smells like a murderer,


it probably is the murderer. If there were other people prowling


around the streets looking at mail and post beside the suspect


Wang Yam, would that begin to undermine the no


alternative concept? It begins to nibble


away, doesn't it? Yeah, it has to, yes, but there


was no intelligence information, Have there been other attempts


to defraud in this manner? Yeah, I'm absolutely confident.


Absolutely confident. What else do we know


about this case? There is very limited information


in the public domain, but one of the few sources


is the Supreme Court judgment. And it states that Wang Yam claimed


he'd been given Alan's cheque-book and credit cards by gangsters


and that he was playing along with them as a means of assembling


evidence against them But because of court restrictions,


there is little more we can And, extraordinarily, we can't even


speculate about why parts Freelance crime reporter


Duncan Campbell has been He believes the issue


at the heart of this case is whether the interests


of the British intelligence services were prioritised over Wang Yam's


right to a fair trial. The official reason for holding


the trial in secret The real reason, I think,


was to avoid embarrassment. MI6 were embarrassed that they had


been working with someone who was a little bit rackety


and as far as they were concerned could possibly be involved


in crime and even in murder. Years after Wang Yam was found


guilty, a new witness came forward. We wrote an article in The Guardian


in early 2014, and a couple of days "Dear Duncan, I read your article


today with interest. I lived a few doors down


from this back in 2006". This is after Wang Yam


was already arrested. "I opened the door and there


was a man with a knife What I'm amazed by is the fact


that the local police did not immediately pass this on to people


involved in the Chappelow case. And I think it's shocking


that Wang Yam's defence were not aware of this,


and shocking that nothing was done Do you think that Wang Yam should


have been found guilty I'm sure if a jury had known that


while he was in prison that somebody was carrying out a very similar kind


of crime, that the jury This new witnesses testimony


was sent to the Criminal Cases Review Commission who took


it under review. I asked former senior


police investigating officer Peter Lansdowne


what he thought about it. Have you heard what happened


today at the Criminal They've referred it


to the appeals court. Oh my God.


No, I didn't know that at all. It says, "The referral is based


on new evidence relating to the failure by police to reveal


to the Crown Prosecution Service and consequently to deprive Mr Yam's


defence of material which might have assisted the defence and or


undermined the prosecution case". I don't even know what


they're talking about. Sometimes you have problems


remembering things, correct? And my question is,


is it just possible, when it's late at night and you're


lying on your bed in prison, do you ever ask yourself,


maybe I did it? I believe there are strong


indications that Wang Yam suffered There were no forensics linking him


to the scene of the crime. The secret trial may have meant that


witnesses didn't come forward. And any failure to disclose


potential evidence could seriously If the Court of Appeal does overturn


Wang Yam's guilty verdict, the question then, is,


who killed Alan Chappelow? Thomas Harding with his take


on the Wang Yam case there. Newsnight contacted


the Metropolitan Police for comment on that claim that another similar


burglary in the same street was not passed by local police onto Met


officers investigating the Chappelow murder, or to Wang


Yam's defence team. The Met said it was unable


to comment given the ongoing A spate of acid attacks occurred


in East London last night - five attacks in all,


and in each case the victims Two of the victims were couriers


for food delivery services, Two teenagers have been arrested


in relation to the attacks. There had been reports of robberies


of mopeds in Hackney, at the heart of last night's


attacks, but not But even before these attacks,


there had been concern that acid was becoming a more common weapon,


with 458 reported incidents Jaf Shah runs the charity


Acid Survivors Trust International. And down the line from Brighton


is Dr Marian Fitzgerald, who is a Professor of Criminology


at the University of Kent, and was previously a researcher


at the Home Office. Start us off on the evolution of the


types of crime. As I understand it has gone from being a revenge crime,


men and women, to a gang weapon to some degree. The strange thing is,


we have returned to how acid attacks were committed 200 years ago in the


UK, where there were many more gang-related activities. That has


been the case as we have run through this century. In the 20s, 30s, Kwame


Green wrote Brighton Rock where the main protagonist carries a container


full of acid which he attacks other gangsters with -- Graham Greene. It


is not a new phenomenon, that is the first in to point out, but what is


different about what is occurring now, the trend is very different,


globally it is men attacking women. 75% of victims are women globally.


The UK is unique, what we are experiencing here, predominantly men


and men attacks. This takes you back to the gang aspect, effectively.


Should we view this as a new crime or is this old crimes and there is a


new weapon perhaps because we have clamped down on guns and knives and


this is the next thing available? Well, I think that we do need to see


it in wider terms, the danger is we will get a political knee jerk


response which targets acid, targeting the weapon, but we have


had many of these initiatives and I think you have to distinguish


between these sort of things like lethal weapons which can only be


used for that purpose, guns being the most obvious example, which


should be made illegal, other than where ownership is justified and


licensed, as opposed to a very wide range of things which are not only


readily available in most domestic circumstances but which are


absolutely necessary. Knives come into that category. Now we have


acid. You have got things like sharpened styling cones, people have


been killed with sharpened pencils. Someone was killed with a broken


bottle. You can't ban those things. If people find it too difficult


because there is a lot of focus on one particular weapon, the people


who are determined to go up there and cause damage to other people,


whether for gain or to perpetrate violence for whatever reason, they


will choose whatever weapon is available that they are most likely


to be able to get away with. You have got to target the people. Not


just keep on endlessly trying to tighten up on the use of everyday


objects which can be used for that purpose but there is an infinite


variety. Do you agree? I absolutely do. I also believe we should


introduce controls around concentrated sulphuric acid which


does enormous lifelong damage. A toilet cleaner or something, bleach,


that is completely different? It depends on the concentration of acid


in any of these household products compared to be concentrated acid


which you can purchase without a licence and which does enormous


damage was not that is for cleaning drains? It could be for cleaning


metals, treatment of some sort, but... That goes into the category


of guns? Exactly. I agree with the point that was made. We are talking


about it, is there an infection -- infectiousness about it, people will


feel this is the thing to do the more we talk about it? If someone is


looking whether in the spur of the moment, trying to do damage to a


Pardo or whatever, but something to hurt them with, in so far as acid is


now being mentioned, and is getting Barber today, it may well be that we


see any increase in these things -- is getting publicity. Because they


may not have previously thought that under the kitchen think is something


that might do damage but now they might, so I think we will see an


increase while the focus is on this but then there will be something


else. It is a question of, domestic violence is one thing, and what sort


of weapons are used and this is an extension of what is used by more


criminally minded people. They will always you something. You need the


intelligence to know who they are. You have got to target them rather


than what they are using. Thanks for joining us.


But don't go yet, because it's been the first night


It's the last night, with its raucous patriotism,


that gets much of the attention, but we thought we'd balance


things out over the summer with a Proms playout each week.


And to start us off, we bring you the vocal


ensemble I Fagiolini, who open the Proms Lunchtime


They are acclaimed Monteverdi specialists, and this is the 450th


Here they are with Anima Mea Perdona.


Good evening. The weather on Saturday isn't looking ideal across


the UK. There is a lot


A look at how the fire service response to the Grenfell Tower fire compares with services across the UK. Plus a murder trial held in secret and why acid attacks are on the increase.

Evan Davis presents.

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