The maker of one of the exterior composite boards used on a London high-rise apartment building that burned in 2017, killing 79 people, has been accused of committing "a fraud on the market."
An official inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire also claimed that Celotex, a building products division of Cie. de Saint-Gobain, made misleading claims about the fire performance of its RS5000 insulation products used during a refurbishment at Grenfell.
The allegations were made by Jonathan Roper, a former assistant product manager at the company, during the official inquiry.
Roper said the company was "dishonest" and "over-engineered" a test to get approval for use. When the material was tested in February 2014, it failed at 26 minutes. Three months later, the material, with concealed magnesium oxide flame-retardant panels, passed the test.
Roper told the inquiry he was asked to produce slides for the sales team that showed the material passed, without mentioning the earlier failed test, or that magnesium oxide board had been used in the second test.
Under cross examination he said this was "downright misleading" and "intended to mislead."
He added that senior management were present at the meeting, and there was nowhere for him to take his misgivings.
Roper subsequently told the inquiry, "I went along with a lot of actions at Celotex that, looking back on reflection, were completely unethical, and one that I probably didn't potentially consider the impact of at the time. I was … 22, 23 [years old], [it was my] first job. I thought this was standard, albeit it did sit very uncomfortably with me."
Celotex has not commented about the latest actions in the inquiry, but earlier stated its support for the investigation.
"We endorse the need to find out what happened and to ensure it does not happen again," Celotex stated in early 2020. "We are committed to assisting the inquiry with its work and re-affirm our deepest sympathies to everyone who has been and continues to be affected by the fire."