Grenfell insulation marketer pressed over ‘thoroughly misleading’ material, inquiry hears

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The person in charge of marketing the flammable insulation used on Grenfell Tower has said there was “not anything in him” that thought publishing “thoroughly misleading” material was the wrong thing to do.

Documents released to the market by Celotex said its RS5000 insulation was safe for use in buildings more than 18m high, as it was in the cladding panels strapped to the outside of the Kensington block.

The inquiry has previously heard Celotex employees manipulated a key fire safety test to secure a pass for its combustible RS5000 product for use on high-rise buildings, including by falsifying technical drawings and failing to declare a fire-resisting magnesium oxide material had been included in the test.

The 6mm layer of magnesium oxide was also not mentioned in marketing materials suggesting the insulation could be used on high-rises and shown to the inquiry on Wednesday.

It was presented by lawyers during evidence given by Paul Evans, the marketing director for Celotex at the time of the fire and during the refurbishment of the tower.

He claimed his “understanding was that what we were (publishing) was what we had tested” and he was “unaware of what I was aware of”, when it came to incorrect information.

However, Mr Evans had been present at a meeting where the inclusion of the magnesium oxide in the tests was discussed.

“There was no-one coming to me saying, ‘we shouldn’t be launching this’,” he said, and added “all I can say is that when we were launching the product to the sales team and the marketing material was going there was not anything in me that thought what we were doing” was misleading.

When pushed by inquiry lawyer Richard Millett QC as to whether “you accept that this marketing literature here when describing the test was thoroughly misleading?”, Mr Evans said: “Yes.”

Mr Evans suggested that the RS5000 had not been approved for use in high-rises in isolation, but rather as part of a wider system.

He told the inquiry in his statement that the team was “keen to make it absolutely clear in the marketing literature that the product approval to the two standards had occurred as part of a system so the product was not approved in isolation for use in any particular application or system”.

There was a line in the marketing material which read: “The classification applies only to the system as tested and detailed in the classification report.”

The hearing was also shown an email from Mr Evans referring to other marketing material for the RS500 in which he told a colleague: “We always need to be careful how we validate the +18m message.

“We can’t have it in too many places as a stand alone statement.”

He said he wanted to make sure that message was “validated” and “caveated”.

Mr Evans was employed by Celotex between 2007 and 2018, when he left the company “by mutual consent”, according to his statement.

The inquiry continues.