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January 9, 2018

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Grenfell: KPMG leaves inquiry, Croydon demands funding meeting

The international auditing giant KPMG has quit the Grenfell Tower inquiry, after concerns were raised over possible conflicts of interest.

The accountancy firm issued a statement on 7 January, announcing it was standing down from its role as project management advisor to the inquiry with immediate effect.

The announcement follows the publication of an open letter by campaigners and backbench MPs, which called upon the Government to cancel KPMG’s appointment to the inquiry.

The open letter claimed KPMG had failed to “disclose a clear conflict of interest”, because it also audits Celotex, the parent company, which produced the cladding used on the tower.

In addition, the letter states the firm also audits both Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Rydon Group, which refurbished Grenfell Tower.

‘Erode public trust’

“Government must recognise that appointing advisors so closely associated with firms under inquiry can only fuel rumours of a deliberate cover-up and erode public trust,” the letter adds.

In response, a spokesman for KPMG said while it was “confident no conflicts exist between our role advising the inquiry and our work for other clients”, it also recognised the “strength of option about our role risks undermining confidence in the inquiry”.

“We share the view that nothing should distract from the important work it is undertaking to better understand the causes of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower,” the spokesman added.

“We have therefore mutually agreed with the inquiry that we will step down from our role with immediate effect.”

The spokesman added the firm’s work to date was “purely operational” and had “no role advising on the substance of the inquiry”.

Croydon demands ministerial meeting over fire safety funding

Last week, the deputy leader of Croydon Council has demanded a face-to-face meeting with the-then housing minister, Alok Sharma, (since replaced by Dominic Raab) over an “unprecedented funding gap” to improve tower block fire safety.

The London borough’s cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, Alison Butler wrote to Mr Sharma, calling for a meeting to discuss the “long-term finance of burden” of implementing a £10 million sprinkler programme without help from central government.

Commitment

In the months following the Grenfell tragedy, Croydon has committed to retrofitting sprinklers in 26 of its tallest tower blocks.

But she claimed the Department for Communities and Local Government has twice refused to either contribute to this programme or relax the local authority’s borrowing powers.

“Croydon’s fire safety programme will cost £10 million from our housing revenue account, placing a significant long-term financial burden on other ring-fenced council projects,” wrote Cllr Butler.

A spokesman for the DCLG said it would respond in due course to the letter.

Click here to view the Grenfell Open Letter.

 

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Stephen
Stephen
4 years ago

I am not clear why Croyden council should expect the central government to fund their decision to fit sprinklers – If the government had mandated sprinklers that would be a different issue, but there are other ways to implement fire protection that are arguably more effective for this type of situation. Perhaps they would also cost a similar amount or more, but surely the management of council resources doesn’t represent a safety issue that the government should be obliged to fund.

Ray Rapp
Ray Rapp
4 years ago

It beggars belief that KPMG did not disclose their interests in those companies associated with the Grenfell fire. Surely, they must have submitted a disclosure document prior to being appointed?