In Brief

Grenfell fire ‘scammer’ refuses to reveal which flat number he lived in

Moses Ettienne is accused of claiming £47,000 in food and accommodation meant for the survivors of the blaze

A man is on trial for allegedly cashing in on the Grenfell Tower tragedy in West London by pretending to be a survivor of the tragic fire and claiming £47,000 in food and board allowances.

Prosecutors say that Moses Ettienne of Southall wasn’t living in the tower block on 14 June 2017 when one of the deadliest fires in modern history broke out. The fire went on to destroy the building and kill a total of 72 people.

The money Ettienne allegedly defrauded is said to have been spent on a room at the Park Plaza Hotel and other luxuries.

The alleged fraudster says he was subletting a flat in Grenfell when the fire started. He has refused to tell the authorities which flat number it was, arguing he was “bound to secrecy” over the “sensitive nature” of his work on renewable energy, reports the Daily Mail.

“Giving evidence at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday, Etienne said he had worked on and off with the US government,” says the newspaper.

Ettienne told the court: “Some of the files I stored were in the flat and because I can't confirm whether they have been destroyed or not I am not able to disclose the flat, the location of that flat, the people I lived with, or anything about that.”

He told the court that he paid £150 a week to stay in the Grenfell flat when he could afford it and slept in stairwells when he couldn’t.

During the 11-month period for which Ettienne has been charged, the council has spent a total of £256.7m on reparations for residents.

The 49-year-old is not the only person accused of fraudulently receiving payouts in connection with the fire. As of November, the BBC found 13 separate false Grenfell victim convictions connected to more than £630,000 in fraud.

Detective Superintendent Matt Bonner, a senior investigating officer for the Metropolitan Police, called the proven exploitations of fire reparations “truly appalling”.

“Not only have their actions exploited the aid and support intended for those most affected, but they also risk misrepresenting the Grenfell community as they continue to try and come to terms with their grief,” he said. 

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