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Matthew Needham-Laing Talks with BBC World Business Report

Firm News | June 15, 2018

Construction partner Matthew Needham-Laing spoke with BBC Radio's World Business Report regarding the opening of the official inquiry into last year's Grenfell Tower fire and its impact building regulations. Matthew stated, "It was fairly clear to me and a lot of the professionals I spoke to, that there was more than the cladding that was wrong with that building. The leaks I've seen from the British Standards Institute suggest this is the case. I hope that they [the inquiry] would look at all of those relationships—what the contractors were doing, what their subcontractors were doing, how they were supervising work, and why it went so badly wrong in this particular instance."

Matthew disagreed with suggestions that materials were selected because the building was going to be an affordable housing development. "While there was a savings of several hundreds of thousands of dollars by using the materials they used on Grenfell, whether they would have used it particularly because it was for housing less well-off people, I doubt it. Actually the material that's been used on Grenfell is used widely on lots of buildings."

It is likely that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will continue to advocate design standards with a focus on improved fire safety. Matthew added, "It's certainly one of the recommendations from the RIBA, to install sprinklers and a secondary means of escape. … There was a lot of different problems [in Grenfell], where they breached passive fire protection, so the means of escape wasn't what it should be. And also a lot of user problems, where the fire protection doors are compromised."

Ultimately, he believes that the inquiry will result in criminal proceedings. "I think the victims are expecting criminal proceedings. There appears to be a dramatic or catastrophic failure in the whole system, and people should have known, and therefore I would expect criminal proceedings."

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