Closing statements to inquiry continue throughout this week.

Lawyers for Grenfell bereaved families and survivors have presented the Grenfell Inquiry with a list of firms they say are “most accountable” for the disaster.

Stephanie Barwise, in closing statements to the inquiry yesterday, said: “Given the scale of the disaster and the number of those who died, it is vital the Inquiry ascertains the principal effective causes so that those most accountable are identified, and to prevent recurrence by targeted and robust recommendations.”

stephanie barwise

Stephanie Barwise giving evidence to the inquiry

She said the team representing the bereaved and survivors have sought to “identify the principle effective causes of the disaster” to arrive at a “minimalist rogues’ gallery”.

She split the “rogues category” into three: those responsible for the use of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding; those responsible for the spread of toxic smoke due to poor compartmentation; and those responsible for failure to ensure means of escape for disabled people.

In a “ranking of responsibility’” in the first category, Barwise included Arconic, the manufacturer of the ACM panel materials, architects Studio E, which “bears the ultimate responsibility for the selection of ACM”, and fire engineers Exova, which “ought to have produced a fire strategy which explained how the functional requirements for the external wall were to be met”.

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She said Arconic’s British Board of Agrément’s certificate for the ACM panels gave a “wholly misleading impression as it related to both cassette and riveted panels”.

Claude Schmidt, the president of Arconic, has previously denied deliberately concealing the fire test failure of its cassette panel product from the BBA.

Barwise also said that cladding subcontractor Harley, lead contractor Rydon and Kensington and Chelsea Council bore  “secondary liability”.

Referring to those responsible for the spread of smoke through poor compartmentation, Barwise again listed Kensington and Chelsea Council along with Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation for fire door failures. She said KCTMO had not rectified unsealed holes in walls made by gas pipes and that smoke ventilation contractor PSB had not ensured smoke did not leak out of a new ventilation system it installed in 2016.

Barwise also said Exova and Studio E failed to ensure that Grenfell was “designed in accordance with the principles of inclusive design” due to a lack of means of escape for disabled residents.

The inquiry continues throughout this week with firms including PSB, Harley, Exova and Kingspan giving their closing statements.