Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
January 6, 2021

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The Video Surveillance Report 2021

Grenfell Tower

Building Safety Minister calls on cladding executives to “step up” and face Grenfell inquiry

The UK’s Building Safety Minister, Stephen Greenhalgh, has added pressure to the calls for cladding executives who supplied materials for the Grenfell Tower to face the ongoing inquiry.

In a tweet made on Sunday 3rd January on Twitter, Mr Greenhalgh said it was “Time for these @arconic executives to step up to the plate” and appear before the inquiry.

GreenhalghTweet-Arconic-20The comment was made in relation to the ongoing legal dispute over three current and former Arconic executives based in the French division of the US firm that supplied combustible cladding to the Grenfell Tower. The witnesses – Claude Wehrle, Peter Froehlich and Gwenaëlle Derrendinger – are being called upon to provide evidence and account for their role in the manufacturing, testing and marketing of the materials, but are citing a French blocking law from 1968 as a reason to refuse attendance.

The French Blocking Statute was originally enacted in 1968 in response to US antitrust investigations into French shipping companies, and is designed to protect French citizens and corporations. As law firm, Bryan Cave LLP, explains: “In essence, the French Blocking Statute prohibits any communication of economic, commercial, industrial, financial, or technical documents or information to be used in evidence in legal proceedings outside of France…”

However, The Guardian reported in December that a French official source has said that its government’s position was that the inquiry’s requests “do not appear to fall under the scope of…the French blocking statute”, and it does not share the views of the Arconic executives.

Two UK-based executives are expected to give evidence, while another, Claude Schmidt, is holding out for “certain conditions” to be met before attending.

The dispute has been ongoing since November, when the refusals to appear were made public by the inquiry.

Keep up to date with the latest from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

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Iain Milne
Iain Milne
January 24, 2021 8:51 pm

Are the people called to give evidence in this enquiry, the correct ones? Surely it is not just Senior Executives who should be called, but the purchaser of the materials to prove their competency at purchasing the correct materials. With evidence then to be provided that proves due diligence in the Manufacturer/ Supplier of the materials having carried out ALL necessary investigations into whether the materials that had been supplied were the correct ones for the tasks they would be expected to face in their lifetime in use on the buildings concerned. It is all too easy for purchasers to… Read more »