In 2014, Wehrle sent colleagues a test result showing that PE panels had the lowest fire safety rating and said it could no longer be used in certain cladding systems.
Nevertheless, two months later, Deborah French, Arconic’s UK sales manager, sent the old BBA certificate to the cladding subcontractors working on Grenfell, suggesting that the PE panels were safe. When asked if she was “just fed up” with the new information, French told the investigation, “Yeah, I don’t remember what action I took at the time.”
Celotex, which supplied most of Grenfell’s insulation, initially struggled to get the material to pass fire testing. In a 2013 email, an employee asked, “Do we believe that realistically our product should not be used behind most cladding panels as it would burn in a fire?”
Jamie Hayes, a former technical services employee at Celotex, told the inquiry that he had devised a plan to increase the chances of RS500 insulation boards passing fire tests in 2014 by adding fire-resistant boards to a test rig. However, he denied knowing that Celotex would hide this detail in its official report and subsequent marketing materials.
It was, he said, “a failure of moral fiber” that kept him from challenging the company when he finally became aware of it.
Kingspan, which provided some of the insulation for the project, found that its Kooltherm K15 product erupted into a “raging inferno” when tested in 2007.
When a facade engineering firm, Wintech, questioned whether Kingspan’s insulation was suitable for high-rise buildings, Philip Heath, a technical manager, wrote to colleagues in an email: “Wintech can go f—and if they’re not careful, they will we will sue the a— [off] them.”
In a poignant text exchange, Arron Chalmers, technical project lead at Kingspan, joked with a colleague about K15 being marketed as safe when it failed fire tests. “All we do is lie here,” the message read.
Five years later, Anderson is still grieving. “You still feel the anger, the dismay, especially the sadness. It doesn’t diminish because you know it shouldn’t have happened. We haven’t been able to get closure,” she says.
Anderson, 49, a mother of two young children, was working at a charity just over two miles from Grenfell on June 13. She got a call from an uncle who said her father’s block was on fire. She turned on the TV, called a helpline and was picked up by her husband and driven to the scene of the accident. Standing about 100 yards from the tower, next to the police cordon, Anderson saw it smoldering, knowing her father was on the top floor of a flat where he had lived for more than 30 years.
“It was really chaotic. We were there for hours just to get information, but it was just impossible,” Anderson says, tears streaming down her cheeks.
The family put up posters begging for information about Moses’ whereabouts. The cheerful, ever-smiling 63-year-old – born in Trinidad but who has been home to the UK since 1969 – was a well-known local figure. Family and friends frantically called hospitals and community centers. “I said ‘he’ll be fine’ and ‘he will be saved,'” Anderson says.
It would take about 12 days for the police to confirm that her father remained missing and she should fear the worst. It was August before she received official confirmation of his death. He was the last of the funerals.
In the investigation, Ray Bernard was described as a ‘modern Moses’. “My father kept those children calm as they took refuge in his flat. It was just his nature. He had the personality to leave himself without and give it to everyone,” says Anderson.
Biruk Haftom, 12, and his mother Berkti Haftom, 29, who was 10 weeks pregnant, had fled their 18th-floor flat and sought shelter with Moses. Both perished.
The boy’s father, Hayelom Abriha Woldegabir, 50, lived in Italy; the couple divorced, but remained friends. He remains inconsolable. “It’s really hard to find the words to express how it feels, let alone think about the horrible way they passed away,” he says. “Even if a hot thing touches my skin, it feels awful, let alone being in a fire and dying in a fire. I can’t feel anything. I don’t feel happiness.”
Like the other relatives, Abriha is angry that those responsible still have to be punished. “Unless you get justice, you cannot find peace within,” he adds.
More than 180 ‘dedicated investigators’ are working on the Grenfell investigation with 9,000 witness statements and 130 million documents to examine.
Moore-Bick has to write an investigative report and only when that is complete will Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution service begin the process of filing charges – far from the convictions the victims are demanding. Forty people have been interrogated under police supervision.
This week, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy, the police officer overseeing the investigation, the largest investigation outside of all terrorist investigations, said he “recognized the frustrations of some at the considerable length of this complex criminal investigation”.
For the families, it seems that justice is still a long way off.