The building firm which installed the cladding system on Grenfell Tower was paid £880 to spend a day pretending to work, the inquiry into the fire heard today.
Appearing before the inquiry, Grahame Berry, director at cladding installer Osborne Berry, admitted that he and colleagues received the fee for a day in which they did no work on the building.
Counsel to the inquiry, Kate Grange QC, presented an invoice from Osborne Berry to contractors Harley Facades which read “8 men no work for 1 day, machines up in air to look like working” – the bill for which was £880.
Asked to explain the invoice, Mr Berry said: “I think that was a time when we had no material on site for that day or so and Rydon [contractors] had a client meeting with potential clients for another building.
“So Harley asked us to be up in the air to look like we were working, to look like a normal building site, rather than people sat downstairs just doing nothing.”
The invoice also revealed further charges for days where the Osborne Berry directors, Mike Osborne (also known as Taff) and Mr Berry (Bez), had no work.
It read: “Bez and Taff no work for 1 day… £360”. Mr Berry also charged £142 for another half day.
Mr Berry confirmed that at Harley’s request, eight workers spent an entire day up the mast-climbers around the building to appear busy.
As with his partner Mr Osborne who appeared before the inquiry yesterday, Mr Berry was shown images of poorly installed cavity barriers and described the workmanship as “unacceptable”. He admitted that he had never installed cavity barriers around windows before.
Cavity barriers were required around windows, but were not installed on Grenfell Tower. Experts have said this made it easier for the fire to break out of the flat where it started and back in to flats higher up the building as it ripped through the combustible cladding.
Mr Berry also denied allegations that he indulged in inappropriate behaviour including banging on windows to scare animals inside flats, telling residents the cladding was installed incorrectly and displaying a disregard for health and safety.
These allegations were made in an email to Harley from Rydon’s project manager Simon O’Connor.
Following Mr Berry was Mark Dixon, director of SD Plastering (SDP), the firm that installed the windows on Grenfell Tower, who said that he expected other contractors working on the tower to have checked compliance, as SDP had joined the project late.
Mr Dixon said the guidance on refurbishment projects is “quite hazy” and he assumed that the chain of command, including Harley and Rydon, had satisfied themselves that they were compliant with various regulations.
He told the inquiry: “What I actually assumed that the process had already been done, that the strategy was achieved, which means everybody knew exactly what was required, where it was required and the safety to ensure that nothing is missed is that site management team, building control officer and Studio E [architects on the project] have the ability to sign those off and say, ‘we are happy with what’s being done.’”
He subsequently admitted he had not considered the fire performance of insulation materials installed around the windows and that he was unaware of guidance which required insulation to be of ‘limited combustibility’.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues.
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Week one: A vivid picture of a broken industry
After a week of damning revelations at the opening of phase two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Peter Apps recaps the key points
Week two: What is the significance of the immunity application?
Sir Martin Moore-Bick has written to the attorney general requesting protection for those set to give evidence at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Peter Apps explains what the move means
Week three: Architects of misfortune
This week saw the lead architects for the Grenfell Tower refurbishment give evidence to the inquiry. Peter Apps runs through the key points
Week four: ‘I didn’t have any perception that it was the monster it’s become’
The architects continued to give evidence this week, outlining a lack of understanding of the fire risk posed by the cladding materials and its design. Nathaniel Barker reports
Week five: ‘No adverse effect in relation to external fire spread’
As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry returns from its long absence, Peter Apps recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the fire consultants to the refurbishment
Week six: ‘I can’t recall any instance where I discussed the materials with building control’
Nathaniel Barker summarises what we learned from fire engineers Exova, architects Studio E and the early evidence from contractor Rydon
Week seven: ‘I do not think I have ever worked with a contractor operating with this level of nonchalance’
Two key witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Peter Apps recaps some of the key points from a revealing week of evidence
Week eight: ‘It haunts me that it wasn't challenged’
Four witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Lucie Heath recaps what we learned on the last week of evidence before the inquiry breaks for five weeks
Week nine: ‘All I can say is you will be taken out for a very nice meal very soon’
This week the inquiry heard evidence from witnesses at Harley Facades, the sub-contractor responsible for Grenfell Tower’s cladding. Peter Apps recaps the key points
Week 10: ‘As we all know, ACM will be gone rather quickly in a fire!’
As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry entered its 10th week, Jack Simpson recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the refurbishment’s cladding contractor
Week 11: ‘Did you get the impression Grenfell Tower was a guinea pig for this insulation?’
With witnesses from the cladding subcontractor, the firm which cut the deadly panels to shape and the clerk of works which inspected the job giving evidence this was week full of revelations. Peter Apps recaps the key points
Week 12: ‘Would you accept that was a serious failing on your part?’
With the surveyor who inspected Grenfell Tower for compliance giving evidence, this was a crucial week from the inquiry. Dominic Brady and Peter Apps report
Week 13: ‘Value for money is to be regarded as the key driver for this project’
With consultants to Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) giving evidence, attention at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry turned for this first time to the actions of the TMO and the council. Peter Apps reports
Week 14: ‘Did it not occur to you at this point that your budget was simply too low?’
This week, for the first time in phase two, the inquiry heard from Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, the landlord that oversaw the fatal refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Lucie Heath reports
Week 15: ‘Have you ever informed the police that you destroyed documents relevant to their investigation?’
Witnesses from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) gave evidence for a second week, which began with a shocking revelation about withheld and destroyed evidence. Pete Apps recaps
Week 16: ‘I conclude this was very serious evidence of professional negligence’
This week saw members of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation finish giving evidence, before the inquiry’s expert witnesses took the stand to make some highly critical assessments of the work they had seen before and during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Jack Simpson recaps
Week 17: ‘It’s hard to make a note about this because we are not clean’
The start of the second module of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two came with some huge revelations about the companies that sold the products used in the cladding system. Peter Apps reports
Week 18: 'It was just reckless optimism wasn't it?'
As the inquiry began cross-examining witnesses for the second module of its phase two work, the picture surrounding just how Grenfell Tower ended up wrapped in such dangerous materials became a little clearer. Nathaniel Barker was keeping an eye on proceedings
Week 19: 'And that was intentional, deliberate, dishonest?'
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry this week heard the shocking story of how the insulation manufacturer "manipulated" official testing and marketed its product "dishonestly". Pete Apps tells the story.