Grenfell Tower: 'Cladding reportedly used on building was banned in US over fire concerns'

Grenfell Tower: 'Alleged cladding was banned in the US over concerns of fire and smoke spread', says Times reporter

Sean O'Neil spoke to Julia Hartley-Brewer about the type of material which was reported to have covered the building

Friday, June 16, 2017

A leading journalist has made damning claims about the cladding which was reportedly used to coat the outside of Grenfell Tower. 

The tower went up in flames in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and there are now 30 confirmed deaths. 

Questions are now being asked about the safety of the tower, as well as the cladding which was placed upon it in its recent refurbishment which may have helped the spread of the flames.

Sean O'Neill, chief reporter for The Times, said his paper had found that the type of cladding reportedly used in the overhaul of the tower block was banned in the United States. 

He said: "We contacted a US salesman about the cladding we believe was attached to Grenfell Tower.

"The core material in the cladding is called polyethylene, effectively a plastic. In the US, this particular brand with this particular material is banned from use in buildings over 40 feet tall.

"What the salesman told us was it was banned because of the fire and smoke spread.

"There were concerns that should it catch alight, it would spread quickly and create thick black smoke, which is what we saw."

When asked by Julia why he thought this type of material might have been used, despite the risks, O'Neill admitted he thought money was a factor.

He replied: “I think it’s always about money, ultimately.

"I find it staggering they spent £8.6 million on Grenfell Tower and how they were debating the colour of the outside. The sprinklers would have cost £200,000.

"Why was it more important to discuss the colour scheme than to protect the rooms?

"I have to say, I’m cynical. 25 years as a reporter, I’m most sick of the phrase ‘lessons will be learned’.

"There is a resistance to regulations, but it’s designed to save lives."

Listen above.