UK minister Michael Gove seeks payment from Kingspan over Grenfell Tower fire

A fire in the Grenfell Tower in June 2017 killed 72 people. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Jon Ihle

A senior British cabinet minister has called on Kingspan to pay remediation costs arising from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and threatened “commercial consequences” if the company does not “right the wrongs of the past”.

In an excoriating letter to Kingspan CEO Gene Murtagh dated March 23 and published on Twitter, UK housing secretary Michael Gove said the inquiry into the deadly apartment tower fire “uncovered shameful practices and an abhorrent culture of disregard” for safety in the building industry.

He said companies that manufactured and sold flammable products have a “moral and financial imperative to recognise their role in the proliferation of unsafe buildings” and that he was “appalled” by evidence heard by the inquiry about Kingspan.

The letter then referenced a statement Mr Murtagh made to the Observer newspaper in February 2022, in which he said Kingspan should pay where its cladding products were inappropriately used.

“This acknowledgement is a positive step,” the letter said. “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.”

Kingspan insulation boards were used in Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London where a massive fire broke out in June 2017, killing 72 people.

The disaster was the subject of a lengthy inquiry which found shortcomings in Kingspan’s UK insulation boards business. At the time, the company acknowledged it had “rightly been criticised” for “historical behaviours” and outlined steps it was taking to improve compliance and governance.

Mr Gove said he was seeking a meeting between Mr Murtagh and officials of his department before Easter. He did not specify how much compensation he was seeking from the company, but did mention Kingspan’s “record profits”, which touched €1bn for the first time in 2022.

The Irish Independent was awaiting a statement from Kingspan at the time of going to press.