Grenfell Tower Investigation: Leading Company ‘Ignored’ Email Raising Coating Concerns


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Kirsty O’Connor

An official for the prime contractor for the Grenfell Tower renovation ignored email concerns that the coating could be combustible, the investigation learned.

Simon Lawrence of Rydon received an email from the Tenant Management Organization (TMO) which ran the tower to find out if the new coating would withstand a fire.

There is no evidence that he or anyone from Rydon responded to this email.

The first phase of the investigation revealed that the coating fueled the June 2017 fire.

Hearings for the second phase of the inquiry resumed last week after a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus.

This second phase examines the renovation of the 24-story residential block in North Kensington, West London, in which 72 people have died.

The investigation learned Tuesday that Mr. Lawrence, contract manager at Rydon, had received an email on November 12, 2014 from Claire Williams of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) responsible for the management of the tower, asking clarification on whether the new coating is fire resistant.

She told Mr Lawrence, who was involved with the project between June 2014 and October 2015, that she was experiencing a ‘Lakanal moment’ – referring to the 2009 fire at a high-rise residential building in London with siding. , which killed six people.

There is no evidence that Mr. Lawrence or anyone else from Rydon responded to the email.

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Grenfell Tower Investigation


Simon Lawrence de Rydon

Investigating lawyer Richard Millett QC asked him what he thought Ms Williams meant by ‘Lakanal moment’.

Mr Lawrence said he knew there had been a fire in Lakanal a few years ago, but did not know “the specific details” or was linked to the fire in the context of the fireproofing of the new coating.

He added that he believed Ms. Williams’ concerns were “specifically” about the fire resistance of the siding on the lower floors of the residential building, “but not the siding as a whole.”

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David Gibson, another TMO member, said in a witness statement that he asked Mr. Lawrence if there would be a “Lakanal-type problem”, due to the risk of flames being trapped in the space between the external insulation and the rainscreen covering on the outside of the building.

Mr. Lawrence said he had no recollection of Mr. Gibson raising this issue with him in a meeting, at Mr. Millett’s request.

Mr Gibson said Mr Lawrence assured him the materials used were “inert” and would not burn – which Mr Lawrence denies saying.

Asked again by Mr. Millet if he ever assured Mr. Gibson that the materials used were “inert”, Mr. Lawrence said he “would not give technical assurances” unless he had this. information of “designers or specialists”.


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