London Review of Books publishes scurrilous account of Grenfell Tower fire
15 June 2018
On June 7, the London Review of Books featured The Tower, a lengthy essay on the Grenfell Tower inferno by journalist and novelist Andrew O’Hagan. The essay marked one year since the devastating fire that claimed at least 72 lives. It also coincided with the opening days of the official inquiry during which fire survivors and relatives of those who died gave moving tributes to their loved ones. O’Hagan’s piece, however, is a mockery of journalistic and social integrity.
The Tower, a 60,000-word essay, was penned by the same individual who produced a hatchet job account of Julian Assange’s life in 2011 in his book The Secret Life. In that work O’Hagan portrayed the WikiLeaks co-founder as narcissistic, paranoid and lying. In an interview with the Times, he accommodated himself to accusations that Assange was a Russian stooge because of WikiLeaks’ role in leaking documents pertaining to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 US election campaign, as well as to the bogus rape charges against Assange.
The same contempt for democratic rights and the lives of working people is abundantly present in The Tower. There are sensitive and moving portraits of those who lived in Grenfell Tower in the first part of O’Hagan’s essay, but this is overshadowed and outweighed by the subsequent six parts.
O’Hagan’s piece is characterised by vicious and dishonest misrepresentations, inaccuracies, the demonization of local activists, residents and firefighters, and hymns of praise to the local council.
Various survivors and local residents who were interviewed by O’Hagan, or have read his account, have denounced The Tower. They have condemned his apologetics for the Royal…