Global management consultancy and audit firm KPMG has quit its role as project management advisor to the United Kingdom investigation into deadly fire at the Grenfell Tower housing complex following calls for it to stand down.
The Jan. 7 announcement came amid pressure by members of Parliament and campaigners who urged Prime Minister Theresa May to reverse the decision to appoint KPMG as advisors “without competition.”
In an open letter to the PM, the campaigners said KPMG had failed to disclose “a clear conflict of interest.”
KPMG audits Celotex, the parent company which produced cladding used at Grenfell Tower, which has been identified as being flammable, and is also the auditor of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the area of London that was home to Grenfell, and Rydon Group, the principal contractor of the project to refurbish Grenfell Tower in 2014.
In its statement, a KPMG spokesperson said, however, the company was “confident” that no conflicts existed between its role advising the inquiry and its work for other clients.
“[But] we recognize that strength of opinion about our role risks undermining confidence in the inquiry,” the spokesperson added. "We share the view that nothing should distract from the important work it is undertaking to better understand the causes of the tragedy at Grenfell tower.”
KPMG has stressed that its role was “purely operational” in that it advised on project management best practice and had no role in advising on the substance of the inquiry.
The inquiry is investigating the disastrous fire that killed at least 79 and virtually destroyed Grenfell Tower in June 2017.
External cladding and insulation have been blamed for the quick spreading of the fire from a single flat to the entire building.