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Grenfell contractor ‘shocked’ by lack of cavity barriers

The contractor responsible for fitting the cladding system to Grenfell Tower has said he was “shocked” by the lack of vertical cavity barriers installed on the building, the inquiry has heard.

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Mark Osbourne gives evidence to the inquiry (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
Mark Osbourne gives evidence to the inquiry (picture: Grenfell Tower Inquiry)
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The contractor responsible for fitting the cladding system to Grenfell Tower has said he was “shocked” by the lack of vertical cavity barriers installed on the building, the Inquiry has heard #UKhousing

Grenfell contractor “shocked” by lack of cavity barriers #UKhousing

Mike Osborne, director at Osborne Berry, the firm that fitted the dangerous aluminium composite material panels to Grenfell Tower, could not explain why there were missing fire breaks on the tower and admitted that poor workmanship had led to inadequate installation.

Kate Grange, counsel to the inquiry, told the inquiry that no vertical cavity barriers, used to slow the spread of fire, were found on the tower after the fire.

Asked to explain the absence of these barriers, Mr Osborne said: “I can’t, because I know they definitely use a full fill [vertical] barrier.”


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Mr Osborne told the inquiry that he had seen vertical barriers on site. He added: “I am shocked that they weren’t installed.”

Ms Grange highlighted old procurement documents which showed that these vertical cavity barriers had been ordered, but she also noted that a BRE investigation could not find evidence that they were used.

“As far as I’m aware they were on the tower because I fitted them myself. I know they were on site because I unloaded them off the lorry,” Mr Osborne said.

Ms Grange presented Mr Osborne with photographs from the tower, which showed horizontal cavity barriers that had been installed vertically.

Asked how this happened, Mr Osborne said: “I can’t answer that question, it’s bugged me for a long time but I never saw that.”

He admitted to poor workmanship around the cavity barriers, which were found to have been installed back to front and with roughly cut edges, allowing for air – and therefore fire – to travel freely between compartments.

Asked if he had ever installed cavity barriers around windows before Grenfell Tower, Mr Osborne said: “Not that I can remember.”

Mr Osborne was also forced to answer questions about accusations of inappropriate behaviour of his colleague Grahame Berry, who had been accused of banging on windows of flats to scare pets and telling residents that the cladding had been installed the wrong way around.

“I have known Grahame for 35 years and this is not something he would do,” Mr Osborne told the inquiry.

The inquiry continues tomorrow with evidence from Mr Berry.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two: weekly diaries

Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two: weekly diaries

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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

Click here to read the full story

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