Hadleigh firm ‘misled’ cladding specialists, Grenfell inquiry hears
- Credit: PA
Hadleigh-based firm Celotex are alleged to have ‘misled’ a cladding specialist during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, an inquiry has heard.
Ray Bailey, boss of cladding specialists Harley Facades, said the Suffolk-based insulation supplier made a “big, big deal” about the Rs5000 product used to refurbish the tower before the tragic fire which claimed 72 lives in 2017.
Together with Reynobond ACM panels, the combustible product was found to be a key factor in the fatal fire’s rapid spread by acting as a source of fuel.
Mr Bailey claimed Celotex marketed the “special super duper” product as being “specifically designed” for tall buildings and that it was Class 0 certificated – the minimum legal requirement for external surfaces of buildings.
Speaking to the Grenfell inquiry, Mr Bailey, a civil engineering graduate with 35 years’ experience in external facade work, said: “We didn’t believe for one second that they would attempt to mislead us on this.
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“When we were asked to use Celotex on Grenfell Tower, we were of the mindset that these new special super duper insulation products were acceptable providing they met certain criteria.
“Celotex made a big, big deal about their products being suitable, specifically designed for building over 18 metres.
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“They used the term, which is very misleading now looking back, ‘Class 0 throughout’.”
In his witness statement, Mr Bailey said he was misled by trusting the fire safety ratings for both the Rs5000 and Reynobond ACM products.
He said: “If Harley, and the industry as a whole, cannot trust the manufacturers to produce accurate, reliable safety certification, how can anyone be confident that the products they are using are safe and not life endangering?”
Stephanie Barwise QC, a lawyer for a group of survivors and the bereaved, has argued Celotex used the 220ft (67-metre) west London tower as a “flagship” project for the insulation and exploited “the smoke of confusion” around building regulations.
Celotex counsel Craig Orr QC previously said its marketing literature promoted the use of Rs5000 on buildings taller than 18 metres only on a “rainscreen cladding system with the specific components” used when it passed a fire safety test.
“The rainscreen cladding system described in Celotex’s marketing literature bore no resemblance to the rainscreen cladding system installed at Grenfell Tower,” he added.
The inquiry continues.