Grenfell Tour: Gove joins condemnation of Lewis Hamilton F1 deal | Grenfell Tower fire

Anger over the sponsorship of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 car by a company that made combustible insulation used on the Grenfell Tower escalated after a cabinet minister demanded a U-turn from Mercedes.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Leveling, Housing and Communities, spoke after Grenfell survivors called the deal “really shocking.” He said he was “deeply disappointed that Mercedes is accepting sponsorship from the Kingspan coating company … while the Grenfell investigation is ongoing.”

Hamilton, a seven-time Formula One champion, faces protests from Grenfell survivors over the deal that will see his car sport the Kingspan logo from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.

Kingspan fabricated some of the insulation used in the renovation of the Grenfell Tower, which caught fire on June 14, 2017, killing 72 people. Disaster survivors and family members of those in mourning have called on the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team to drop the sponsorship deal, with one calling it “disgusting.”

After the Guardian revealed his anger, Gove tweeted Thursday night: “The Grenfell community deserves better.”

Survivor group Grenfell United said in a letter to team boss Toto Wolff on Thursday: “Kingspan has played a pivotal role in inflicting the pain and suffering we feel today, and there must be some public censorship for carelessness for human life He called on her to “immediately sever your relationship” with Kingspan.

The public inquiry into the disaster learned that prior to Grenfell, Kingspan had altered the composition of its foam plastic panels, and tests showed they were burning “like hell unleashed.”

But the company continued to use a previous test and sold them for use on buildings across the UK, including Grenfell, where a small amount was used. The public inquiry learned that Kingspan executives also dismissed customer concerns about the panels’ fire safety, with an official saying in one case: “[They] confuses me with someone who gives a dam [sic]. “

The British driver, currently second in the world championship standings, has already supported the Grenfell community. On the third anniversary of the fire, he posted on Instagram: “Today marks the third anniversary of the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in London. Remember the 72 souls we lost and their loved ones, and all those affected by this tragedy. #justiceforgrenfell.

Mercedes’ decision to take the sponsorship, with the logo on the noses of the cars, was called “disgusting” by Nabil Choucair, who lost six of his family to the blaze.

“I am very disappointed that someone who says they support us wants to advertise Kingspan, which has contributed to the loss of innocent lives,” he said. “He shouldn’t accept it. You cannot support the community and say that you respect the deceased and their families and still accept a sponsorship like this. “

The Mercedes team stressed that drivers were not involved in sponsorship decisions and said in a statement: “Our partner Kingspan has supported and continues to support the vitally important work of the investigation to determine this who went wrong and why in the Grenfell Tower tragedy Our new partnership announced this week is focused on sustainability and will help us meet our goals in this area.

In 2020, the public inquiry into the disaster revealed emails from a Kingspan technical manager after being asked by potential customers about the fire safety of the signs in which he said the customer “can go and be done. fuck it, and if he’s not careful we’ll go on with it [off ] them”.

Other emails revealed how members of the tech team joked in 2016 that the product’s safety claims were “all lies” and that it should be dropped.

Plastic-filled aluminum siding panels made by another company, Arconic, were the main cause of the Grenfell Tower fire’s rapid spread, the investigation has already revealed. Foam board made primarily by Celotex and a small amount of Kingspan board used as insulation “contributed to the speed and extent of the vertical spread of the flames,” according to Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chairman of the survey. .

Kingspan Managing Director Gene Murtagh this year admitted “unacceptable conduct and shortcomings in historical processes, involving a small number of employees,” but said that “did not reflect the high standards of integrity and security which are Kingspan’s core values ​​”.

He said: “We have already implemented several important changes that demonstrate our commitment to product compliance and good governance. Our goals are clear: to reassure that safety takes precedence over all other considerations and to ensure that this never happens again. “

In a statement announcing the sponsorship agreement, the Mercedes team said: “Kingspan’s products, systems and technologies address critical challenges in the built environment, including improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon incorporated, circularity and water conservation. They have been used to help create high performance buildings around the world for the team’s parent company, Mercedes-Benz.

Wolff said he was “delighted to welcome Kingspan to our team”.

In a statement, Kingspan told The Guardian: “Kingspan played no role in the design of the Grenfell Tower cladding system, where its K15 product made up about 5% of the insulation and was used as a substitute. unbeknownst to Kingspan in a system that did not meet construction standards. The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team reflects the ambitious sustainability goals of both organizations. ”

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