Grenfell: Insulation firm blames cladding firm for ‘misrepresentation’

Kingspan, the firm that provided some of the insulation for the facade of Grenfell Tower, has blamed the firm that supplied the building’s cladding for a “misrepresentation” of expert advice.

The Irish firm’s lawyer, Geraint Webb KC, when making final statements in the Grenfell Inquiry yesterday, claimed that Arconic – which was responsible for the polyethylene Aluminium Composite Material (PE ACM) cladding – had not accurately relayed the advice.

Webb cited Arconic’s submission to the inquiry, which stated that the specific type of panels used were “not in themselves unsafe”.

He contrasted it with the statement made by Edinburgh University professor Luke Bisby, a fire-safety expert, who described ACM cladding as “uniquely hazardous” and “a product that should not be used ever”.

“Professor Bisby could not, in our submission, have been clearer about the dangers posed by PE ACM,” Webb said.

He added: “It’s not clear as to what basis Arconic are inviting the panel to conclude that ‘uniquely hazardous’ or any of those other descriptors should be construed as meaning not unsafe.”

US-owned firm Arconic has previously said that it was the combination of ACM cladding with unsafe components such as combustible insulation that made it hazardous.

However, Kingspan claimed that “extensive modelling” had proved that using combustible or non-combustible insulation to envelope Grenfell Tower would have made no difference.

The ability to retain heat or insulation, rather than combustibility, was the problem, Kingspan said, as it pointed the finger once again at the cladding firm.

The specialist also blamed the government for not taking action after ACM cladding failed flammability tests in 2001, as well as the designers, builders and architects for not doing enough to make sure that building regulations were adhered to.

Webb was speaking following a statement to the inquiry made by Arconic yesterday that it was being unfairly blamed by other firms that were shirking responsibility for the building fire that killed 72 people in 2017.

The firm’s lawyer said that the primary responsibility for any misuse of product had been the responsibility of the designers, architects and builders.

Earlier this week, lawyers representing the bereaved said that product manufacturers had, together with certifying bodies, allowed unsafe products to go on the market.

The inquiry is still underway.

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