A convicted cannabis farmer, a crash-for-cash conman and a family suspected of a £1million fraud are among those given special status at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
It revealed its ‘core participants’ yesterday, comprising 504 bereaved relatives, survivors and local residents.
They will receive legal funding, the opportunity to review evidence in advance, make opening and closing statements and question witnesses.
One of the Naqshbandi family members granted core participant status is Masi Naqshbandi, 33 – one of Britain’s most notorious crash-for-cash scammers
But among them are seven members of the Naqshbandi family, which is at the centre of a £1million fraud probe over claims that 15 of them lived in a flat in the tower before it was destroyed by fire last summer.
The list also includes Eamon Zada, 35, who avoided jail this month after the remains of a cannabis oil factory were found in his burnt-out flat.
One of the Naqshbandi family members granted core participant status is Masi Naqshbandi, 33 – one of Britain’s most notorious crash-for-cash scammers.
He was jailed for more than seven years in 2012 after he and his gang were convicted of staging 250 crashes to make insurance claims worth £6.5million.
Last September Naqshbandi, who was released in 2015, met Prince William at a support centre for survivors of the fire on June 14, which killed 72 people.
The list also includes Eamon Zada, 35, who avoided jail this month after the remains of a cannabis oil factory were found in his burnt-out flat
Fifteen members of his family, who are from Afghanistan, claim a three-bedroom flat on the third floor of the tower was their main residence before the fire. They have been rehoused in at least three new luxury homes furnished by John Lewis, prior to which they would been up put up in hotels and entitled to £300 a week to cover expenses. But only four of their names are believed to appear on the original tenancy agreement.
The surprisingly large number of claimants listing the flat as their address led the council to begin a fraud investigation and pass evidence to police.
The family denies any wrongdoing, and officials accept some of the relatives have legitimately benefited from assistance.
However it is believed that if the fraud investigation finds the members listed as core participants guilty of fraud they would be removed from the inquiry.
Because the inquiry automatically gives core participant status to blaze survivors who lived in the flats, Zada also qualifies. Last month he admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis, receiving a 12-week suspended sentence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court after the remains of a cannabis oil factory were found in his flat.
He has been housed at a £150-a-night hotel since the fire, which exposed his drugs operation. It also emerged in court that he once operated a credit card factory out of the flat, swindling banks out of £1.6million.
He was jailed for five years in 2009 for the cloning operation, which intercepted credit card details from phones.
He spent the cash on a £4,000 Rolex, a £4,900 mobile phone and sprees at exclusive restaurants, spending £140,000 on champagne in one night.
After completing his sentence, Zada began making cannabis oil in the two-bed flat.
But during his trial, he failed to stop his identity being revealed in court, having claimed he feared being blamed for the deadly blaze because of butane gas canisters he kept at home to make the oil.
Labour councillors and local MP Emma Dent Coad claim they have been excluded from the inquiry. The councillors said their request for core participant status was turned down three times by the inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
A spokesman for the inquiry said it would not comment on individual applications.