UK: Corporations seek to evade responsibility for role in Grenfell Tower fire

 

UK: Corporations seek to evade responsibility for role in Grenfell Tower fire

By
Trevor Johnson

27 June 2018

The companies that bear joint responsibility for Grenfell Tower’s lack of compliance with building regulations and basic safety standards—resulting in the inferno that cost 72 lives—are doing their utmost to evade responsibility and pass the buck at the public inquiry into the fire.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC), the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), which managed Grenfell Tower on behalf of the council, and the Rydon construction firm, which oversaw the refurbishment that surrounded the building in highly flammable cladding, addressed the inquiry during its first evidential sessions. Arconic, the manufacturer of the cladding, and Celotex, the manufacturer of the flammable insulation—that emitted vast quantities of poisonous cyanide gas as it burnt—also addressed the inquiry.

The companies prefaced their initial statements by shedding crocodile tears for the bereaved and survivors, but then went on to explain reasons why they should not be held responsible for what happened. They all stated they would not respond fully until seeing all the evidence.

Rydon won the £8.6 million contract to refurbish Grenfell Tower from the KCTMO. The company made a profit of £14.3 million in 2016, on a turnover of £271 million.

Rydon’s main concern in its opening statement was to insist that no discussion should be held on what happened before the fire, saying the first phase of the inquiry was not scheduled to cover that period. This was to prevent any examination of its role and responsibility in the critical events prior to the fire.

Rydon referred to the widespread use of cladding that was just as dangerous as…

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