Home>Fire>Enforcement>Gove targets Arconic and Kingspan over cladding remediation
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Gove targets Arconic and Kingspan over cladding remediation

07 April 2023

MICHAEL GOVE – the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – has written stern letters to Timothy Myers (CEO at Arconic) and Eugene Murtagh (founder and chair of the Kingspan Group), urging both businesses to contribute towards the funding of cladding-related building remediation work or otherwise face the “commercial consequences”.

*Image: Simon Dawson/UK Government (Source) (Creative Commons Licence)

According to Gove, those who manufactured and sold flammable cladding and insulation products have a “moral and financial obligation” to acknowledge their role in the legacy of unsafe buildings within the UK’s built environment.

In his communication to Myers, which has been published on Twitter, Gove comments: “Testimony at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry uncovered shameful practices and an abhorrent culture of disregard for the safety of residents in their homes. I was appalled by the evidence heard by the Inquiry about the extent your employees went to so as to conceal the flammable nature of your products and to avoid promoting fire-retardant products to customers because doing so would reduce your profits.”

According to the Secretary of State, to date Arconic has “failed to engage in a meaningful way” in any part of the industry-wide negotiations that have taken place since 2022. In the letter to Myers, Gove also points out: “You also incorrectly stated that you were represented by the Construction Products Association despite Arconic not being a member.”

In that same communication to Arconic’s leader, Gove continues: “I note with interest your annual reports, which reveal that, between 2017 and 2022, Arconic spent an average of £8.9 million per year on legal advice and representation in relation to Grenfell-focused matters. In stark contrast, you have not contributed any funding towards the cost of fixing dangerous buildings, despite the fact that your flammable products continue to put lives at risk in the United Kingdom.”

“Reckless and deceptive” behaviour

Writing to Murtagh (a communication also reproduced on the Secretary of State’s Twitter account), Gove observes: “I was appalled by the evidence heard at the [Grenfell Tower] Inquiry about the reckless and deceptive behaviour within your company. I recently read in The Observer that you believe Kingspan should pay where cladding products have been inappropriately used on buildings. If the report was accurate, this acknowledgement is a positive step. I sincerely hope it is a first step only in what should be a comprehensive package of financial support from Kingspan and other construction product manufacturers. Your record trading profit of £382.8 million will, I presume, help to fund this commitment.”

Gove has issued an open invitation to both Myers and Murtagh to meet with his officials and discuss how the duo of companies propose to scope, identify and subsequently pay for any necessary remediation works. “This would go some way towards restoring confidence in the sector in the way that we have recently seen from developers.”

The Secretary of State ends both communications by noting: “My Government Department will continue to be driven by its commitment to protect people in their homes. People who bought or rented homes in good faith and whose safety continues to be threatened by your products deserve better from the companies who have exploited their basic need for a home. Those companies who do not share our commitment to righting the wrongs of the past must expect to face commercial consequences.”

In parallel, the Government has issued an update on progress at the Grenfell Tower site. Watch the ten-minute video (below) for the latest information.