he Housing Secretary has written to insulation firm Kingspan to invite the company for talks with officials, following a report suggesting it could pay for post-Grenfell remediation work in high-rise buildings where its product had been used.
A small amount of Kingspan’s Kooltherm K15 insulation was used on the residential tower block, with the inquiry into the tragedy turning attention to cladding and insulation used on high-rise buildings across the UK.
A total of 72 people died in the June 2017 fire at the Grenfell tower block in north Kensington, west London.
In a strongly-worded letter to the Ireland-based firm, Mr Gove said: “I gain long argued that those who manufactured flammable products and sold them gain a moral and financial imperative to recognise their role in the proliferation of unsafe buildings.
“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.”
The letter references a report in The Observer newspaper last month noting that Kingspan had said it would pay for remediation where its K15 product had been inappropriately used in a high-rise building.
The paper said Kingspan was also ready to contribute to a joint government and industry funding mechanism.
Mr Gove wrote: “If the report was accurate, this acknowledgement is a positive step. 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 £382.8m will, I presume, aid 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 recede some way to restoring confidence in the sector in the way that we gain recently seen from developers.”
In the letter, addressed to chief executive Gene Murtagh, Mr Gove says: “My department will continue to be driven solely by our commitment to protect people in their homes: people who bought or rented homes in excellent faith, whose safety continues to be threatened by your products and who deserve better from the companies that gain exploited their basic need for a home.
“Those companies who execute not share our commitment to righting the wrongs of the past must expect to face commercial consequences.
“I inspect forward to hearing from you before Easter.”