Grenfell insulation firm committed ‘a fraud on the market’

A product manager for insulation firm Celotex agreed that his company committed “a fraud on the market” by making misleading claims about its insulation’s fire safety at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Jonathan Roper was tasked with leading a rebrand of Celotex’s FR5000 insulation product, which was not suitable for use on buildings above 18 metres in height, to become one called RS5000.

The product failed a combustibility test in February 2014 and the firm added non-combustible magnesium oxide boards around the product, the inquiry heard.

In sales material on the product, the use of the non-combustible boards to contain the spread of fire was not mentioned. Roper admitted this was a deliberate means of misleading customers.

Asked by

Ex-Celotex product manager Jonathan Roper

if he agreed that this was “wrong” and a “fraud on the market”, Roper said that he did. He added: “I felt incredibly uncomfortable with it. I recall going home that evening, and I still lived with my parents at the time, and mentioned that to them, and I felt incredibly uncomfortable with what I was being asked to do.”

He said that all of Celotex’s senior management had been in meetings about this so there was no one with whom he could have raised concerns.

Roper added: “I went along with a lot of actions at Celotex that, on reflection, were completely unethical, and one that I probably didn’t potentially consider the impact of at the time. I was, as we’ve said, I was 22, 23, [in my] first job. I thought this was standard practice, albeit it did sit very uncomfortably with me.”

Last week, the inquiry heard that Roper was promoted to product manager the year after joining the company in a marketing role. He said he had no training on building safety or fire regulations.

Celotex has previously said that its product was not marketed for use in buildings over 18 metres in height, and did not have any knowledge that the product was to be used in the Grenfell refurbishment. It argued that cladding panels, produced by Arconic, were dangerous and misrepresented their fire rating.

The inquiry continues.


Source: Construction News

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