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July 27, 2022

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Man charged after 88 cladding safety forms ‘fraudulently filled out’

A man has been charged with fraud after dozens of cladding safety forms were signed off by an unauthorised person, Merseyside Police has said.

Thomas Michael Clarke, 33, of Prescot, has been charged with fraud and false representation. The force said it comes as part of a 19-month investigation into fraudulently signed cladding paperwork for high-rise buildings in London and South Wales.

EWS1 forms were introduced for residents to get their building’s cladding assessed for potential fire risk after the Grenfell fire that left 72 people dead in 2017. The process is designed to deliver assurance for lenders, valuers, residents, buyers and sellers that an external wall system on residential buildings has been assessed for safety by a suitable expert.

The forms need an appropriate professional to confirm the checks have been carried out, but in November 2020 residents of the unnamed high-rise buildings reported 88 forms had been signed off by a person who was not authorised to do so.

Qualified and competent professionals who are members of a relevant body within the construction industry should conduct a fire-risk appraisal on the external wall system before signing an EWS1 form, which is valid for the entire building for five years. Relevant materials to identify and assess include external wall cladding and attachments, as well as whether fire resisting cavity barriers and firestopping have been correctly installed.

The reports, covering time between 23 June and 12 November 2020, were referred to Merseyside Police by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Without valid forms, the residents could not assess the risk to their homes and that harmed their ability to get mortgages.

The correct checks have now been carried out.

Mr Clarke is due to appear at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 3 August 2022.

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