A criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower tragedy is looking into manslaughter charges, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The shadow Brexit Secretary, who is also the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), revealed prosecutors were currently part of the investigation.

He said they would be looking at whether anyone could be charged with manslaughter following a litany of failings that led to the disaster - in which at least at least 58 people are now feared to have been killed.

A firefighter stands outside of the Grenfell Tower after fire engulfed the 24-storey building, in London. Photo / AP
A firefighter stands outside of the Grenfell Tower after fire engulfed the 24-storey building, in London. Photo / AP

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show he said: "I spoke to the DPP yesterday and there are prosecutors already in advising the police. So the criminal investigation really has to come first.

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"Normally an inquest will only take place at the end of the criminal investigation, so the idea of an inquiry is important because that can, in some circumstances, happen much more quickly and I think speed is of the essence here."

Asked if they would be looking specifically into manslaughter charges, he said: "Yes."

Adding: "When we were looking at this when I was DPP in relation to other fires, we were looking at manslaughter charges.

"There are wider regulatory offences but I think manslaughter is the most serious and that's the one that needs to be looked at first.

"So a public inquiry allows things to happen more quickly and allows a broader range of questions and inquests come usually at the end of the exercise."

He added that all political parties "need to ask serious questions about why recommendations in the past have not been implemented".

It came as Philip Hammond said the criminal investigation would examine whether building regulations had been breached when the block was overhauled.

Hammond said the public inquiry set up by the Government following the tragedy would also examine if rules had been broken.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham who lost his friend Khadija Saye in the fire, has said the "very best senior officers" in the force should undertake the criminal investigation into the blaze.

He has also demanded confirmation that the scope of the police investigation into the tragedy would not be hampered by the public inquiry announced on Friday.

Theresa May admitted last night that the official response to the Grenfell Tower catastrophe "was not good enough".

TOWER CLADDING WAS BANNED

The new exterior cladding used in a renovation on London's Grenfell Tower may have been banned under UK building regulations, two British ministers have revealed.

As police continued their investigation into the inferno that killed at least 58 people, Trade Minister Greg Hands said the Government was carrying out an "urgent inspection" of the roughly 2500 similar tower blocks across Britain to assess their safety.

Experts believe the exterior cladding, which contained insulation, helped spread the flames quickly up the outside of the public housing tower early Wednesday morning.

Some said they had never seen a building fire advance so quickly. The 24-storey tower that once housed up to 600 people in 120 apartments is now a charred ruin.

Hands and Treasury chief Philip Hammond said in separate TV appearances that the cladding used on Grenfell seems to be prohibited by British regulations. Hands cautioned that officials don't yet have exact details about the renovation that ended just last year.

"My understanding is that the cladding that was reported wasn't in accordance with UK building regulations," Hands told Sky News. "We need to find out precisely what cladding was used and how it was attached."

Labour Party politician David Lammy demanded the Government and police immediately seize all documents relating to Grenfell's renovation to prevent the destruction of evidence that could show criminal wrongdoing.

"The Prime Minister needs to act immediately to ensure that all evidence is protected so that everyone culpable for what happened at Grenfell Tower is held to account and feels the full force of the law," Lammy said.

He said all records - including emails, minutes of meetings, correspondence with contractors, safety assessments, specifications and reports - must be kept intact.

"When the truth comes out about this tragedy, we may find that there is blood on the hands of a number of organisations," Lammy said.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy says police will seek criminal prosecutions if the evidence warrants.

BLAZE PAYOUT

Homeless Grenfell Tower victims will receive at least £5500 ($9670) in a Government payout, the Sun reports.

Downing Street said desperate families got £500 ($879) in cash on Sunday to be followed by a £5000 ($8791) bank transfer tomorrow - after victims told of getting just £10 ($17) a day so far.

Friends and relatives of Zainab Dean, one of the people still missing after a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower, a 24 storey building gather, near the building, in west London. Photo / AP
Friends and relatives of Zainab Dean, one of the people still missing after a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower, a 24 storey building gather, near the building, in west London. Photo / AP

No. 10 officials said support workers would ensure people could access the cash - including those who may not have a bank account.

A £5 million ($8.79m) fund has been set up for emergency supplies, food and clothing.

- Daily Telegraph, news.com.au