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Rydon auditor quits Grenfell inquiry

8 January 2018 | By James Kenny

Image: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

The Grenfell Tower inquiry has ceased its contract with auditor KPMG after concerns were raised over potential conflicts of interest.

It comes after concerns were raised about the government’s appointment of the professional services firm. Last week dozens of campaigners and academics signed an open letter calling on the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister Theresa May to reverse the decision to appoint KPMG.

The main crux of the concerns is the fact that KPMG audits the parent company of Celotex, which produced the insulation on the building, alongside its role as auditor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Rydon Group, the contractor that refurbished Grenfell Tower.

In the open letter, campaigners, said: “The government’s Grenfell Tower inquiry is already facing criticism from Grenfell survivors and victims for a lack of inclusivity and diversity, failure to consider the deregulatory background via a series of reckless political decisions, made by governments of various colours in the decades leading up to the Grenfell disaster.

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

In a statement released on Sunday evening, a KPMG spokesperson said: “Whilst we are confident that no conflicts exist between our role advising the inquiry and our work for other clients, we recognise that strength of opinion 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.

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

“We were appointed to advise on structuring a project management office for the Grenfell Tower public inquiry. Our role was purely operational and advised on project management best practice and had no role advising on the substance of the inquiry. We will waive our fees for our work undertaken to date.”

A spokeswoman for the Grenfell Tower inquiry said: “KPMG was appointed to provide the inquiry with limited planning and programme management during its start up phase, helping the inquiry to make rapid progress in the production of a project plan and related tasks.

“The company has had no role in the inquiry’s investigations or decision-making processes and its contract contained strict confidentiality clauses to ensure that there could be no conflicts of interest.

“Following concerns expressed by some core participants, the inquiry team has discussed the contract with KPMG which has agreed that its work should now cease. The support and confidence of all core participants is integral to the work of the inquiry.”

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