Fire safety consultant ‘ignored’ Grenfell cladding email
A fire safety consultant “ignored” an email containing proposals to clad Grenfell Tower with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding because he was not specifically asked to look at it, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has heard.
Terry Ashton, a senior associate at Exova, was questioned about his involvement in the refurbishment of the building by Kate Grange QC, counsel to the Inquiry, yesterday.
Grange asked Ashton if he remembered seeing emails sent in late October 2012 by architect Studio E, detailing draft work packages for the refurbishment, sent to a number of members of the design team. Ashton was also included on the list of recipients.
Ashton said: “No, I don’t. I probably wouldn’t have looked at them if I’m honest, unless they had a fire dimension.”
Grange highlighted the fact that there were a number of items in the documents about overcladding and insulation. “That’s making clear that overcladding is definitely still a big part of this project, isn’t it?”
Ashton replied: “As I say, I didn’t look at any of these packages, if we had been asked to look at these then that would have been somewhat different…The whole tenor of the email was: ‘We are having a meeting to discuss the various workshops’; it didn’t say: ‘Would you, Exova, look at all of these work packages and give us your comments.’”
Ashton added that he would have expected to see something specific in the email “to go on”, and that Exova would not expect to look at a whole series of building packages “just because we were part of the design team”.
Grange highlighted another email dated 31 October 2012 from Adrian Jess at architect Studio E with the subject line “Stage C report” in which he attached an FTP link for the report itself. Ashton was again copied in.
But Ashton countered: “But we weren’t the primary recipients of that, were we? We were just copied in. And that happens a lot on projects, you get copied in. It’s a sort of scattergun approach.”
Asked if he looked at the stage C report, he replied: “No, I didn’t. I didn’t see that I needed to.”
He added: “If I can broaden this out, we don’t routinely look at RIBA stage C or D reports unless we’re specifically asked to do so. I mean, on a current project I was specifically asked to look at a section of a stage 3, which is the same as stage C, report which had fire safety implications and the architect sent me an extract from the stage C report which enabled me to comment on that.
“Now, to just send me a link to an FTP site without any instruction as to what I should do with it, then I would ignore it, which is what I did.”
Ashton is due to give further evidence to the Inquiry at a hearing scheduled for today (9 July).