Government criticised for approving Grenfell cladding company

News comes after Jacob Rees-Mogg apologised for comments about the disaster

Grenfell Tower
WEDNESDAY, UK: A 'Justice for Grenfell' sign hangs on a tree near Grenfell Tower, this week marks the six month anniversary since the disaster
(Image credit: 2017 Getty Images)

The government is facing anger after it placed the builder that oversaw the catastrophic recladding of Grenfell Tower on an official list of firms recommended to build high-rise housing.

Survivors and the bereaved say that the decision to name Rydon, the lead contractor on tower’s refurbishment ahead of the fatal fire that claimed 72 lives, as one of the firms on a £30bn seven-year construction framework agreement “adds insult to injury”.

“It is totally unacceptable that Rydon, one of the companies required to answer questions for its role in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, would be put on a government list that promotes it as a reputable contractor for other high-rise towers,” said a spokesperson for Grenfell United.

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The Guardian says that the company is expected to face “intense scrutiny” in the second phase of the public inquiry into the disaster, which will begin in 2020.

The government also faced criticism yesterday when Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire did not use “common sense” and leave the burning building.

Appearing on LBC, the leader of the House of Commons said the stay-put policy issued by the fire service had limited people’s chances of survival and he would have ignored it.

The 50-year-old said: “The tragedy came about because of the cladding leading to the fire racing up the building and then was compounded by the stay put policy.

“I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building.

“It just seems the common sense thing to do and it’s such a tragedy that that didn’t happen but I don’t think it’s anything to do with race or class.”

The Justice 4 Grenfell group described his comments as “appalling,” while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said they were “crass and insensitive”.

As anger mounted, Rees-Mogg told the Evening Standard: “I profoundly apologise.”

He added: “What I meant to say is that I would have also listened to the fire brigade’s advice to stay and wait at the time.

“However, with what we know now and with hindsight I wouldn’t and I don’t think anyone else would.

“I would hate to upset the people of Grenfell if I was unclear in my comments. With hindsight and after reading the report no one would follow that advice. That’s the great tragedy.”

Last week, a report into the Grenfell Tower fire condemned the London Fire Brigade for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the blaze.

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