The safety of the public “continues to be threatened” by the products of Irish insulation giant Kingspan, UK housing secretary Michael Gove has said.
Kingspan’s K15 insulation was used on Grenfell Tower in London in which a fire killed 72 people in 2017. However, the Irish business maintains the product was “misused” and that it did not know it was supplied to the company that fitted the material to the building.
K15 accounted for 5 per cent of the insulation on Grenfell Tower. Celotex, a subsidiary of French giant Saint-Gobain, supplied most of the insulation.
The company’s products, including K15, are “safe when installed correctly in appropriate external wall systems,” a Kingspan spokesman said on Tuesday.
Kingspan continues to stand by its commitment “pay our share of remediation costs where we have responsibility for the inappropriate use of K15 in a high-rise residential building, and its safe retention cannot be supported by testing” as well as contributing to “an appropriate joint government and industrywide funding mechanism such as an industry levy,” the spokesman added.
Mr Gove wrote to Kingspan chief executive Gene Murtagh last week and invited him to meet with his officials to discuss remediation payments.
“I have long argued that those who manufactured flammable products and sold them have a moral and financial imperative to recognise their role in the proliferation of unsafe buildings,” he said.
“The testimony at the Grenfell Tower inquiry uncovered shameful practices and an abhorrent culture of disregard for the safety of residents in their homes.
“I was appalled by the evidence heard by the inquiry about the reckless and deceptive behaviour within your company.”
He described the pledge to pay remedial costs as “a positive step”, adding: “I sincerely hope it is a first step only, in what should be a comprehensive package of financial support from Kingspan and other construction product manufacturers.
“Your record trading profit of £382.8 million will, I presume, help to fund this commitment.
“I invite you to meet my officials to discuss how you propose to scope, identify, and pay for remediation works. This would go some way to restoring confidence in the sector in the way that we have recently seen from developers.”
Mr Gove said his department “will continue to be driven solely by our commitment to protect people in their homes: people who bought or rented homes in good faith, whose safety continues to be threatened by your products and who deserve better from the companies that have exploited their basic need for a home”.
“Those companies who do not share our commitment to righting the wrongs of the past must expect to face commercial consequences,” he added.