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Cladding firm to miss event for Grenfell Tower bereaved

The firm which supplied the cladding on Grenfell Tower in London has failed to take up an invitation to an event where those impacted can speak directly to those many hold responsible for the deadly fire.

Arconic is understood to be the only invited organisation not planning to attend Grenfell Testimony Week later this month.

The four-day event in London is being held as part of an agreement reached last year following a court case which saw a judge approve a global settlement of compensation claims made by people affected by the fire on 14 June 2017.

Lawyers representing bereaved relatives, survivors and local residents told a hearing in May that there had been a settlement of about 900 cases and a global sum of about £150 million (€175m) compensation agreed.

The testimony week, from 23-26 January, is aimed at giving bereaved, survivors and residents an opportunity to “speak directly to representatives from the defendant organisations that many of them hold responsible for the fire, as well as for some people to a wider audience”.

Senior representatives from all the defendants involved in the settlement of the civil claim have been invited, although attendance is understood not to be compulsory.

A spokesperson for Grenfell Testimony Week confirmed that representatives from Celotex, Exova, London Fire Brigade, Kingspan, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), Rydon, and Whirlpool Corporation will attend.

Representatives from the UK Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are also attending.

Arconic has been contacted for comment.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report concluded in 2019 that cladding on the building did not comply with building regulations and was the “principal” reason for the fire’s rapid spread.

Once the blaze – in which 72 people died – had taken hold of the building’s exterior, it was “inevitable” that it would find its way inside, inquiry chairman Martin Moore-Bick said.

The judge concluded that the “principal reason” the flames shot up the building at such speed was the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”.

Arconic, which supplied the cladding on the outside of the block, has previously said a “confluence of unfortunate circumstances” rather than the “mere presence” of the panels had caused the spread of the blaze.

The final hearing took place in November 2022 and a panel and inquiry team have been working on their phase two report since then – looking at how the tower block came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread.

The inquiry’s final report is due to be published this year, but is not expected before April.

The testimony week event is separate to the inquiry.

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