Runner reaches Grenfell after 227 mile challenge

Runner reaches Grenfell after 227-mile challenge

A runner who completed more than a marathon a day in support of a law change to help victims of major scandals has crossed the finish line of his charity trek at Grenfell Tower with a bereaved family member by his side.

Mik Parkin completed his 227-mile journey to west London on Saturday, joined by the uncle of a 12 year-old girl who died in the 2017 Grenfell fire.

The eight-day run had begun at Anfield in Liverpool and took in the Hillsborough memorial in Sheffield on the 35th anniversary of that disaster.

The charity trek aimed to raise awareness of the Hillsborough Law, which campaigners have said could make a difference to victims who often endure long-running fights for justice in the wake of major disasters.

Manfred Ruiz, known as Manny, took part in the first and last stages of the run, in memory of his niece Jessica Urbano Ramirez, and said it was “a pleasure” to be able to support Mr Parkin, praising him for his efforts.

Mr Ruiz told the PA news agency: “What he’s done this week has just been amazing.”

The Hillsborough Law, or Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, would include a legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively co-operate with official investigations and inquiries.

In December, the Government stopped short of introducing the legislation, saying it was “not aware” of any gaps or clarifications needed that would further encourage a culture of candour among public servants in law.

Campaigners said more is needed “to stop the pattern of cover-ups” and Mr Parkin, originally from Durham but now based in Leeds, cited the treatment of victims such as those of Hillsborough, Grenfell, the Manchester Arena bombing, and the Infected Blood and Post Office Horizon scandals.

His run was also raising money to be shared between the mental health charity Mind and the Grenfell Foundation.

It has so far raised more than £3,000, surpassing its original target of £2,270 which had been set to represent £10 for each mile of the journey.

Mr Ruiz said being in the area of the tower is “always emotional” as he spoke about Jessica.

He said: “When she lost her life she was only 12 years old but she was such a bubbly lovely little girl and always put a smile on everyone’s face when she walked into the room. So it (taking part in the run) is just in her memory and keeping her memory alive.”

He said he believes passage of a Hillsborough Law could help “in leading to getting convictions much sooner” where major disasters and scandals occur.

The run comes in the same month as news that the final report from the long-running inquiry into the fire has been further delayed.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry team said the publication of the final report would now not happen until after the seventh anniversary of the fire, which takes place on June 14.

In an update on their website, the inquiry team said the “process of notifying those who may be subject to criticism in our report and considering their responses” is in its final stages but “has been significantly larger and more complex than we had originally expected”, having involved writing to some 250 people.

This means, the team said, the report will not be published before the next anniversary of the fire “as we had originally hoped”.

Asked about the delay, Mr Ruiz said: “We just want justice so hopefully the report will be in our favour and hopefully they’ve got enough to actually start holding people accountable for the actions that led to the fire.

“We’ve been waiting seven years now so obviously the sooner the better.”

Mr Parkin said he felt tired but had a feeling of accomplishment by the end of the final run and said arriving at the tower had prompted a mix of emotions.

He said: “Coming in here at the end of the run, it’s really, really conflicted.

“Yes, it’s the end to a really, really difficult personal challenge, but effectively you’re coming into a crime scene, where people who have lost friends and families are still there so it’s not a time for whooping around and celebrating.

“We’re actually here for a really, really serious reason and I wouldn’t have done this if not for a really, really serious reason.”

He praised the “warmth” of the Grenfell community for their welcome and support.

Mr Parkin laid flowers at the Grenfell memorial wall, and was presented with a heart-shaped glass award in recognition of his achievement.

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