Hammond accused of making 'ill-informed' remarks that Grenfell cladding 'was banned'

Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

The Chancellor has sparked a fresh Grenfell Tower fire controversy by appearing to suggest cladding used on the tower block is banned in Britain.

Philip Hammond told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "My understanding is the cladding in question, this cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here."

The cladding panels added to the tower last year are said to be a product called Reynobond PE - a flammable hard-plastic core coated with aluminium.

CEP Architectural Facades, a company that fabricated the rainscreen panels and windows for Harley Facades Ltd, the firm that was subcontracted to install cladding to the tower block, and replace its windows rejected the Chancellor's comments.

John Cowley, managing director of CEP, which is owned by Omnis, said: "Reynobond PE is not banned in the UK."

"Current building regulations allow its use in both low-rise and high-rise structures," Mr Cowley added.

Grenfell Tower in west London has been devastated by fire. Credit: PA

"The key question now is whether the overall design of the building's complete exterior was properly tested and subsequently signed off by the relevant authorities including the fire officer, building compliance officer and architect before commencement of the project," Mr Cowley added.

He has also said the Chancellor's comments were "frivolous and ill-informed".

Mr Hammond also said a criminal investigation would examine whether building regulations had been breached when the block was overhauled.

"There are two separate questions. One, are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials? The second question is were they correctly complied with?"

External cladding was fitted to Grenfell Tower in 2016. Credit: PA

Mr Hammond also said the public inquiry set up by the Government following the tragedy would also examine if rules had been broken.

"That will be a subject that the inquiry will look at. It will also be a subject that the criminal investigation will be looking at," he said.

At least 58 people are "missing and presumed dead" following the fire at Grenfell Tower, police have confirmed.