Justice and the Law

Grenfell Inquiry: failed cladding, ‘if customers didn’t ask, they didn’t get told’

Photo: Grenfell Tower, source: File: Grenfell Tower fire (wider view).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Ms Deborah French,a former UK sales executive for Arconic sold Reynobond PE panels to construction projects in the UK which have a flammable plastic core.

These PE Panels which were used on Grenfell tower are only suitable to be used on buildings up to ten metres in height, which was stated in in a 2016 Arconic brochure for Reynobond panels.

Although Grenfell Tower is more than 60 metres tall, in the inquiry today, Ms French explained that she did not “consider that the height of a building was relevant”.

Ms. French told the inquiry that she did not recall being made aware of the changes to the products classification and that it may “not have been relevant to the UK market”.

When asked what type of information she usually provided customers, she said she was more concerned with aesthetics and questions usually arose of different colours and panels, they were more general questions about the product and not necessarily about the EU fire classifications.

Ms French agreed that it was unlikely for her customers to find out about the updated classification and said that “if I would have been asked that they needed to know I would have made sure the information went to them.”

Email evidence was shown that Ms French received information regarding how flammable the material was, stating how the “PE core [burnt] like paper” which could “transport fire up a building like a chimney”.

When provided with examples of fires in other buildings which used the same cladding as Ms French was selling, she admitted that she was “too heavy on the sales side” when dealing with customers concerns.

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