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Police consider manslaughter charges over Grenfell Tower fire

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The Metropolitan Police has said it is considering manslaughter charges against all the companies involved in building or refurbishing Grenfell Tower 

In a statement released earlier today (23 June) Metropolitan Police detective superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is overseeing the investigation, also said the cladding and insulation on Grenfell Tower had failed the police’s own initial safety tests, carried out on its behalf by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

‘Preliminary tests on the insultation samples collected from Grenfell Tower show that they combusted soon after the test started,’ she said. ‘The initial tests on the cladding tiles also failed the safety tests.’

She added that the force had shared its data with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and with every council.

McCormack said the Metropolitan Police was ‘looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards’. She said these also included health and safety, and fire safety offences following the blaze last week, which has claimed at least 79 lives. 

‘We are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower,’ she added. 

Studio E Architects, which completed a £10 million refurbishment of the west London tower block in 2016, declined to comment on McCormack’s statement.

The AJ has contacted two other companies involved in the refurbishment – contractor Rydon and cladding installer Harley Facades – as well as original architect of the tower Nigel Whitbread. 

Meanwhile, the DCLG is continuing to reveal the tests of cladding on all 600 high-rise buildings with cladding in the UK. So far, it has confirmed that 11 tower blocks in eight local authorities have combustible cladding, as was the case with Grenfell Tower.

Yesterday, Camden Council announced that it would ‘immediately’ prepare to remove the cladding from five tower blocks on Chalcots Estate, which were refurbished by HTA Design, following tests that did not satisfy its fire safety concerns. 

As well as investigating the cladding and insulation materials, McCormack said the force was examining ‘how the tiles were fixed to the building and how they were installed’.

McCormack confirmed that a fridge-freezer started the fire at Grenfell Tower, and that it was not deliberate.

She said that there were 79 people presumed or officially confirmed dead in the disaster, but feared there were more victims. 

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