Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Grenfell: Minister tells cladding execs to ‘step up to the plate’

4 January 2021
Image: Dreamstime/Alex Danila

Building safety minister Stephen Greenhalgh has urged executives of cladding firm Arconic, who claim they are banned by French law from appearing in front of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, to “step up to the plate”.

Greenhalgh’s comment, made on social network Twitter, came after reports that the Inquiry would “empty chair” key witnesses who failed to appear.

Three witnesses who are either present of former employees of Arconic, which made the rainscreen cladding panels used on Grenfell Tower, argue that the 1968 French Blocking Statute prevents them from giving evidence at a tribunal.

Claude Wehrle, a former employee of the business, was called to give evidence after he wrote emails warning that the cladding panels were dangerous. Gwenaëlle Derrendinger, a present employee, and Peter Froelich, a former employee are also reported to be resisting the Inquiry.

Commenting on the news, Greenhalgh said: “Time for these Arconic executives to step up to the plate and appear before the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, rather than hide behind the 1968 French Blocking Statute.”


I can’t help feeling Greenhaigh has gone for the easier target of the Arconic employees rather than reflect on changes his party made to tried and tested systems for building control, fire testing, building management and procurement.

John Drake, 4 January 2021

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