Cladding in Lon­don build­ing un­der re­view

Main fo­cus on the ex­te­rior ma­te­rial, which of­fi­cials are say­ing may have been banned

Toronto Star - - NEWS - GREGORY KATZ

LON­DON— The new ex­te­rior cladding used in a ren­o­va­tion on Lon­don’s Gren­fell Tower may have been banned un­der U.K. build­ing reg­u­la­tions, two Bri­tish min­is­ters said Sun­day as po­lice con­tin­ued their crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ferno that killed at least 58 peo­ple.

Trade Min­is­ter Greg Hands said the gov­ern­ment is car­ry­ing out an “ur­gent in­spec­tion” of the roughly 2,500 sim­i­lar tower blocks across Bri­tain to as­sess their safety, while an op­po­si­tion law­maker urged the gov­ern­ment to quickly se­cure doc­u­ments in the Gren­fell ren­o­va­tion for the crim­i­nal probe.

Late Sun­day, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice re­leased three pho­tos from in­side Gren­fell Tower, which showed in close de­tail how the fire charred the 24-story build­ing that once housed up to 600 peo­ple in 120 apart­ments.

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.

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 U.K. build­ing reg­u­la­tions,” Hands said. “We need to find out pre­cisely what cladding was used and how it was at­tached.”

Alu­minum cladding with in­su­la­tion be­tween two pan­els has been blamed for help­ing to spread flames in ma­jor fires in many parts of the world, in­clud­ing blazes in the Mid­dle East, Europe, Asia and the U.S. Labour party law­maker David Lammy de­manded that 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, sug­gest­ing that con­trac­tors might be de­stroy­ing ev­i­dence be­fore it is sought by po­lice.

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 or­ga­ni­za­tions,” Lammy said.

He com­plained bit­terly that a friend — the young artist Khadija Saye — was still alive three hours af­ter the fire started but was un­able to get out of her apart­ment to safety.

Po­lice Com­man­der Stu­art Cundy says po­lice will seek crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions if the ev­i­dence war­rants. He has not pro­vided de­tails about the in­quiry. Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan said Sun­day af­ter at­tend­ing a church ser­vice sev­eral blocks from the tower that the fa­tal blaze was en­tirely pre­ventable.


Lon­don po­lice re­leased this view of the charred ru­ins of part of the 24-storey tower that once housed up to 600.

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