Outraged bystanders called police after a man was suspected of pretending to be a victim of the Grenfell Tower tragedy to get money from kind-hearted strangers.
Furious crowds surrounded the man on Oxford Street in central London yesterday after he was challenged while holding a cardboard sign and appealing for money.
Photographs show the man holding a sign, reading: “I’m legend victim which didn’t get help after Grenfell Tower fire”.
One witness said he challenged him on details such as the postcode and location of Grenfell Tower but said the man became ‘belligerent’ when questioned.
Metropolitan Police confirmed the man had been spoken to by officers and ‘referred to the relevant authorities’.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Ben Keenan, 36, said he was one of those to question the man as angry crowds grew.
He said: “It was obvious he was pulling fast one.
“A big crowd formed around him. One guy was saying ‘I lost a cousin in the fire’ and told him to take the sign down.
“The reaction was a mixture of shock, disgust, and eventually anger.”
He also said a friend had claimed to have previously seen the man in Leicester Square as a street performer.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “On the afternoon of Monday 19th June in Oxford Street, local Westminster officers were made aware of a man with a placard referring to the Grenfell Tower fire.
“Police spoke to the individual and words of advice were given. No criminal offences were substantiated. The man was referred onto the relevant authorities.”
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council declined to comment.
A Grenfell Fire Response Team has been set up to improve support for victims.
The Government confirmed that every family left homeless by the fire would receive hundreds in handouts – and £5,000 sums have already been started to be distributed as part of a £5m fund.
The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council offered to quit over the handling of the Grenfell tower fire – but his colleagues rejected his resignation.
Nicholas Paget-Brown is believed to have volunteered to stand aside after deep criticisms of the response to the tower block fire last week, which has claimed the lives of at least 79 people.
It is believed Mr Paget Brown had offered up his resignation yesterday at a meeting of the council cabinet.
But it was unanimously rejected by other councillors. Yesterday he refused to say whether he would quit – and insisted that the Council’s response was “effective”.
Victims of the fire have repeatedly hit out for the uncoordinated efforts on the ground, which they say was mainly run by volunteers and not the Council.
The council – which is at the centre of a police investigation into the deadly blaze – has been sidelined from the relief effort and has been replaced with a taskforce run jointly by the boss of Southwark Council, the Government, the Met Police and the British Red Cross.
The town hall faces questions over materials used in the council’s £8.6 million refurb of Grenfell Tower – with claims that cheap cladding was to blame for spreading the fire.
Original article: The Sun