CEP Architectural Facades and Rydon Maintenance say role in inquiry’s first phase will be limited
Companies at the centre of the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower have downplayed the role they will play in the first phase of the public inquiry into last year’s fire.
CEP Architectural Facades, which supplied the ACM [aluminium composite material] cladding and window frames, and Rydon Maintenance, which was the main contractor on the tower’s refurbishment, both raised questions about their involvement in the inquiry’s first phase.
They also both said a lack of disclosure from the inquiry impinged upon their ability to contribute meaningfully to the inquiry at this stage.
In an opening statement, CEP said: “There are two factors which are currently inhibiting CEP’s investigation of the issues. The first concerns disclosure. The second relates to access to the site for CEP’s own expert.
“Until disclosure is complete and CEP’s expert has been given access to the site and sufficient time to complete his investigations, CEP will not be in a position to make any substantive submissions to the Inquiry.”
The company said while it acknowledged the scale of the disclosure exercise facing the inquiry, the “very large quantity of documentation” which is still to be disclosed meant its own investigations could not progress.
It also said it was critical that its expert was given access to the site as soon as possible.
The firm said: “Put bluntly, it is impossible for experts to form their own views and to test the evidence of the inquiry’s experts without the benefit of the very access which the inquiry’s experts have had.”
Meanwhile, Rydon said it was “proceeding on the basis that Phase 1 will be an exercise which is designed principally to achieve some detailed preliminary findings as to the source/origin of the fire, and a timeline for the spread of the fire and smoke, both externally or internally, together with when and where people within Grenfell Tower moved during the course of the night.”
It said: “On that basis, as has been set out above, in the light of its review of the evidence disclosed to date, Rydon anticipates that its involvement in Phase 1 is likely to be limited.”
The first phase of the inquiry is a fact-finding stage with phase one not expected to wrap up until the end of October.
The second phase is not expected to begin until the new year and will focus on the construction, refurbishment and management of the building prior to the fire.
This week one of the QCs involved in the inquiry, Richard Millett, warned firms and government departments that had been asked to provide statements to “resist the temptation to indulge in a merry-go-round of buck-passing”.