Two firms behind Grenfell’s cladding and insulation scandal face being BANNED from taking Government contracts
- Ministers want two firms Arconic and Kingspan banned from all state contracts
- Bosses of the French arm of Arconic refused to give evidence to Grenfell inquiry
- Former Kingspan employee revealed that the firm rigged insulation safety tests
Two companies that caused outrage over their behaviour in the Grenfell scandal face being put on a Government blacklist as punishment.
Ministers want them banned from all state contracts on the grounds they are not fit to be trusted, the Daily Mail can reveal.
It comes amid fury over the conduct of Arconic and Kingspan, whose cladding and insulation were used in the tower block where 72 people died in a fire in 2017.
The move would represent a public humiliation for the firms and could lead to a wider boycott, costing them millions in lost sales.
Bosses of the French arm of US-based Arconic – with annual revenue of £11billion – have refused to give evidence to the Grenfell inquiry.
Two companies that caused outrage over their behaviour in the Grenfell scandal face being put on a Government blacklist as punishment. The Grenfell fire in June 2017 is seen above
The inquiry has heard one Kingspan boss said in an email that customers worried about the safety of its product could ‘go **** themselves’.
A former employee revealed the firm, with turnover of around £3billion a year, rigged safety tests. Whitehall has no direct contracts with either firm but a ban would be a powerful signal to businesses with public building contracts, from schools to hospitals, as well as the private sector, that Kingspan and Arconic products should be shunned.
The plan has the backing of Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
A housing ministry source said: ‘The shocking behaviour that has been highlighted in the Grenfell inquiry has left everyone appalled.
The inquiry has also heard the Kingspan product used on Grenfell Tower, Kooltherm K15, was fitted despite not being suitable for high-rise buildings. K15 Kingspan cladding is pictured above
‘Companies that have played the system should not be receiving taxpayers’ money and we are exploring the best way to exclude them from future contracts.’
The Cabinet Office is considering whether to approve the ban, which would be reviewed at the end of the Grenfell inquiry.
The inquiry is examining the manufacture, marketing and testing of the materials used in the 2014-2016 refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
It has established that the cladding, made by Arconic, was the primary cause of the spread of the fire through the west London block.
Now questions are being raised about whether Kingspan’s insulation inside this cladding exacerbated the blaze.
Lawyers for the bereaved and survivors have said both firms sold flammable materials they knew ‘were dangerous to life’.
Similar cladding remains on many buildings and the Mail is calling on ministers to fix them within 18 months to end the scandal. Hundreds of thousands of owners are stuck in flats they cannot sell because of the dangerous cladding on their blocks.
This paper is also demanding that leaseholders are spared hefty repair bills of up to £115,000 to replace the cladding.
Bosses working for Arconic when it supplied flammable cladding to refurbish Grenfell Tower have refused to appear at the inquiry.
Three key witnesses claim they could be prosecuted under an obscure French law that stops company data being shared in proceedings abroad.
One is technical manager Claude Wehrle, now a fireman in north-east France, who warned the cladding was dangerous six years before the blaze.
Gwenaelle Derrendinger, another witness, also lives in France while the third, Peter Froehlich, is in Germany.
All worked at manufacturing giant Alcoa, now Arconic, and were involved in selling Reynobond panels with a combustible core for use on Grenfell.
In an internal email from 2011, Mr Wehrle said the material was ‘unsuitable for use on building facades’.
The inquiry has also heard the Kingspan product used on Grenfell Tower, Kooltherm K15, was fitted despite not being suitable for high-rise buildings.
Ivor Meredith, a senior technician who was responsible for safety tests on the insulation, told how he became ‘embroiled in a deliberate and calculated deceit by Kingspan’ to ‘fabricate’ test results.
The inquiry heard how a 2007 test became a ‘raging inferno’ and in October the company withdrew test reports for Kooltherm K15 that had been used to help sell the product since 2006. By then, it had been fitted to 240 tall buildings.
Kingspan, whose materials are on most flats and houses, has apologised for ‘process shortcomings’ between 2005 and 2015, saying the version of the product it tested was not the same as those it was selling.
The Mail revealed last year that its bosses have cashed in company shares worth £123million since the inferno.
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