Michael Gove accused of hypocrisy over Grenfell comments

Communities secretary had criticised Lewis Hamilton’s F1 team over sponsorship deal

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 03 December 2021 12:54
<p>Michael Gove</p>

Michael Gove

Labour has accused Michael Gove of hypocrisy after he criticised a Formula One team for accepting sponsorship from a company linked to the Grenfell tower disaster.

The communities secretary said he was "deeply disappointed" in Lewis Hamilton's F1 team Mercedes for doing a deal with the firm that made combustible insulation used in the tower.

But in a letter sent on Thursday Labour Mr Gove's opposite number Lisa Nandy said the Tories should examine their own financial links to cladding firms and developers.

Mr Gove spoke out after Grenfell survivors branded the deal with Kingspan, which made some of the inflation used in the tower refurbishment, "truly shocking". The tower caught fire on 14 June 2017 killing 72 people.

The Cabinet minister said he would be "writing to Mercedes to ask them to reconsider" their decision, adding that "the Grenfell community deserves better".

But in a letter to Mr Gove, Ms Nandy said: "I am writing to ask that you take the same principled stance in relation to the decision by the Conservative Party to take millions of pounds in donations from property developers responsible for flats that have been covered in the same dangerous ACM cladding since the fire in 2017.

"This includes European Land and Property which put Grenfell style ACM cladding on the Paddington Walk development in London, and donated 200,000 to your party in 2019. The development was supported by investors the Reuben brothers.

"Jamie Reuben, son of David Reuben, personally donated £628,000, as well as another £294,000 via Investors in Private Capital. It also includes personal donations to the Prime Minister, including a donation of nearly £25,000 from a major shareholder in Arconic, the company that made Grenfell Tower's combustible cladding in 2017 - the year the fire took place."

In a statement announcing the sponsorship deal, the Mercedes F1 team said: “Kingspan’s products, systems and technologies address critical challenges in the built environment, including improving energy efficiency, reducing embodied carbon, driving circularity and conserving water.

"They have been used to help create high-performance buildings around the world for the team’s parent company, Mercedes-Benz.”

Kingspan said in a staement: “Kingspan played no role in the design of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, where its K15 product constituted approximately 5 per cent of the insulation and was used as a substitute product without Kingspan’s knowledge in a system that was not compliant with the building regulations.

"The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team reflects the ambitious sustainability targets of both organisations.”

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