During a recent public inquiry hearing, Jonathan Roper – former assistant product manager for Celotex, the firm responsible for making the combustible insulation used on Grenfell Tower – admitted to knowing that the company had fraudulently fixed the results of a fire test conducted on the cladding used at Grenfell Tower.
When asked if he was aware at the time of testing that Celotex was committing “marketplace fraud” by misrepresenting the largely plastic cladding material as fire safe, Roper responded, “Yes, I did, I felt incredibly uncomfortable with what I was being asked to do”.
Mr Roper informed the inquiry that the way in which Celotex presented the results of its fire test was “misleading” as the company was “dishonest” by “over-engineering” a cladding fire safety test to achieve a pass.
The reason behind the devastatingly rapid spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower was due to a series of recently installed plastic panels that skirted the outside of the entire building. These panels contained a highly flammable cladding that had been flagged to local officials as being dangerous to residents over a year in advance of the fire.
The flammable cladding had been installed behind a water resistant “rain screen”, meaning the fire service were unable to target any of the cladding from the ground.
In response to the claims of Mr Roper, Celotex has stated that “the combustible nature of [the insulation] was, or should have been, known to construction professionals”.
Despite not accepting any blame or repercussion for the disaster, Celotex has admitted that some of their employees had acted with “unacceptable conduct” and assured the inquiry that they have taken “concerted steps” to prevent such an incident ever happening again. These empty words do little to lift the hearts of those grieving relatives already lost due to the systemic negligence and purposeful deceit of Celotex.
Today, thousands of Londoners continue to live in tower blocks clad in the same flammable material. Despite continual campaigning by the survivors of Grenfell and numerous charities, there are over 300 buildings across the UK with Celotex cladding.
Nonetheless, the UK government has refused to shoulder the cost of replacing the cladding, arguing that they shouldn’t have to as half of the remaining buildings are currently under private ownership. Whilst parliament continues to debate splitting the bill, the fate of thousands of Brits remains in jeopardy.
The inquiry continues.
To hear more of what Mr Roper had to say, watch the video below.