Firm’s UK boss tells housing secretary it is ‘very open to working with your department’

Kingspan has met the pre-Easter deadline set by Michael Gove to get in touch with his department to discuss how the firm would pay towards the cost of cladding repairs.

The housing secretary’s letter last month was prompted by a Sunday newspaper report suggesting Kingspan was willing to pay where its products were inappropriately used on buildings.

Gove said he wanted to hear from the products firm “before Easter” and added: “I hope they will urgently meet with my officials following their record profits.”

gove (2)

Source: Shutterstock

Housing secretary Michael Gove said he wanted to hear from Kingspan before Easter about how it would contribute to cladding repair costs

A small amount of Kingspan’s K15 insulation was used in Grenfell Tower, which caught fire in 2017 killing 72 people.

Last Tuesday, the firm’s managing director for its insulation business in Great Britain and Ireland, Aiveen Kearney, wrote back to Gove, saying that it would pay its share of remediation costs “in circumstances where we have responsibility for the inappropriate use of K15 in buildings, and its safe retention cannot be supported by testing”.

She said the principal reason for the rapid spread of fire at Grenfell was due to polyethylene-cored ACM cladding not made by Kingspan.

Kearney also claimed that Kingspan had been the first and so far only product manufacturer to have publicly committed to an industry-wide scheme “to support the wider fire safety issues on buildings where those responsible can’t or won’t pay”.

> Also read: Shocking Grenfell evidence sees Kingspan announce root and branch reform

> Also read: “Common knowledge” Grenfell insulation used old test report, says sacked Kingspan manager

> Also read: Products firms not backing down on cladding costs, CPA says

In his letter, Gove said he had been “appalled” by evidence about “reckless and deceptive behaviour” within Kingspan heard at the inquiry into the disaster at Grenfell Tower.

In response, Kearney said: “The historical actions of a small number of individuals in our organisation, to which you refer, have been comprehensively addressed within the business and further governance and compliance measures have since been implemented consistent with the recommendations from the Hackitt Review.

“It is important however to clarify that these historical actions were not causative of the Grenfell tragedy.”

She added: “I and others on my UK senior team remain very open to engaging and working with your department, together with the Construction Products Association and other relevant stakeholders, to find the best industry-wide solution.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it had no further comment to make at this time.

In the year to 31 December 2022, Kingspan’s revenue increased to €8.3bn (£7.4bn) from €6.5bn (£5.8bn), while pre-tax profit was up 8% to €747m (£664m).