Lobbying firms employed by Grenfell insulation firm following deadly fire, inquiry hears

Portland and Grayling carried out lobbying work on behalf of an insulation firm that supplied materials used in the Grenfell Tower cladding, a public inquiry into the fire, which killed 72 people, heard yesterday.

Grenfell insulation firm Kingspan used two lobbying firms in the wake of the fire (pic credit: Getty)
Grenfell insulation firm Kingspan used two lobbying firms in the wake of the fire (pic credit: Getty)

Kingspan used Portland in the summer of 2017, in the weeks following the blaze, to convince “key decision-makers” that combustible materials were safe if properly installed, PA reported from the inquiry.

The firm created a ‘Political Engagement Plan’ for internal use, which listed as its ideal targets for engagement former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and former housing secretary Sajid Javid.

The company was the manufacturer of Kooltherm K15, a flammable material that was in the cladding put on Grenfell Tower when it was refurbished.

The engagement plan listed other MPs it wanted to target and stated: “Some people will not want to meet you and they will not want to be lobbied. But there is still immeasurable value in getting Kingspan’s manifesto in front of these decision-makers. We want them to read it.”

The document said messaging from Kingspan had to be “punchy, memorable and easy to understand”.

The engagement plan was shown yesterday during Kingspan head of technical and marketing Adrian Pargeter’s third day of evidence to the inquiry.

It said: “There is still a lot of discussion to be had about approaching the public inquiry. We don't know the inquiry's terms of reference and we don't know if Kingspan will be asked to give evidence.”

The Portland document was created after the fire, but before the terms of the subsequent inquiry were laid out in August 2017.

Rigged tests

Grayling was also hired by Kingspan, following the Grenfell fire, to lobby politicians that combustible materials were “no more dangerous than non-combustible materials when properly installed”, according to internal emails shown to the inquiry.

The inquiry heard that Kingspan set up rigged tests in the spring of 2018, designed “to perform poorly”, to show that non-combustible insulation made by a rival supplier would also fail.

The purpose of these tests was to “generate evidence for use in both the political arena and with the Hackitt review team”, emails sent to Kingspan’s senior leadership revealed.

Grayling was contacted but had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Portland declined to comment.

The inquiry continues.

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