Michael Gove admits ‘faulty and ambiguous’ guidance allowed Grenfell tragedy to happen as Housing Secretary sets deadline for developers to fix unsafe towers
- Michael Gove admits ‘faulty and ambiguous’ guidance let Grenfell fire happen
- He accepts cladding rules were wrong before blaze engulfed west London tower
- June 2017 tragedy killed 72 people and public inquiry yet to deliver final report
Michael Gove has admitted ‘faulty and ambiguous’ Government guidance allowed the Grenfell Tower tragedy to happen.
The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary accepted the rules on flammable cladding were wrong before fire engulfed the west London tower block in June 2017, which killed 72 people.
A public inquiry into the disaster, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is yet to deliver its final report.
But Mr Gove acknowledged evidence to the inquiry that showed official guidance was widely seen to allow highly flammable cladding on tall buildings.
It comes as he prepares to set a six-week deadline for developers to sign a Government contract to fix their unsafe towers – or be banned from the market.
Asked in an interview with the Sunday Times whether he accepted the rules were wrong ahead of Grenfell, the Cabinet minister replied: ‘Yes. There was a system of regulation that was faulty.
‘The Government did not think hard enough, or police effectively enough, the whole system of building safety. Undoubtedly.’
He added: ‘I believe that [the guidance] was so faulty and ambiguous that it allowed unscrupulous people to exploit a broken system in a way that led to tragedy.’
Michael Gove has admitted ‘faulty and ambiguous’ Government guidance allowed the Grenfell Tower tragedy to happen
The Housing Secretary accepted the rules on flammable cladding were wrong before fire engulfed the west London tower block in June 2017, which killed 72 people
A public inquiry into the disaster, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is yet to deliver its final report
Mr Gove forecast that the inquiry would ‘allocate responsibility appropriately’ between regulators, manufacturers and developers.
‘There’s neglect and a failure to effectively get the system in place, which is one thing,’ he told the newspaper.
‘And then there is an active willingness to put people in danger in order to make a profit, which to my mind is a significantly greater sin.’
Mr Gove will tomorrow announce the six-week deadline for developers.
‘Those who haven’t (signed) will face consequences. They will not be able to build new homes,’ he said.
The Sunday Times said he would use a new ‘responsible actor scheme’ to block developers from getting planning or building control approval for new developments.
The Grenfell inquiry’s final hearing in November heard that firms appeared to have used the inquiry to ‘position themselves for any legal proceedings’ that may follow it, instead of showing remorse.
In closing submissions, lead counsel Richard Millett KC accused companies of a ‘merry go round of buck-passing’ in order to protect their own interests.
The inquiry also heard from Jason Beer KC, for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who said the department ‘apologises unreservedly’ for its failure to recognise weaknesses in the regulatory system.