'Faulty and ambiguous' government guidance partially to blame for Grenfell Tower tragedy, Michael Gove admits
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30 January 2023
The government is partially to blame for the Grenfell Tower tragedy because of "faulty and ambiguous" government guidance, Michael Gove has said.
The housing secretary added the guidance allowed "unscrupulous people to exploit a broken system in a way that led to tragedy".
He made the admission in an interview with The Sunday Times as he placed a deadline on unsafe blocks.
The fire at the residental tower block in North Kensington, west London, in June 2017 killed 72 people and triggered a public inquiry.
The inquiry, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is yet to deliver its final report,
Evidence to the inquiry showed official guidance was widely seen to allow highly flammable cladding on tall buildings.
When asked if accepted the rules were wrong Mr Gove replied: "Yes.
"There was a system of regulation that was faulty. The government did not think hard enough, or police effectively enough, the whole system of building safety. Undoubtedly."
"I believe that (the guidance) was so faulty and ambiguous that it allowed unscrupulous people to exploit a broken system in a way that led to tragedy," Mr Gove added.
It comes after the inquiry's final hearing in November heard that firms appeared to have used the inquiry to "position themselves for any legal proceedings" that may follow it, instead of showing remorse.
In closing submissions, lead counsel Richard Millett KC accused companies of a "merry go round of buck-passing" in order to protect their own interests.
On Monday, the housing secretary will announce a six-week deadline for developers to sign a government contract to fix their unsafe towers - or be banned from the market.
"Those who haven't (signed) will face consequences. They will not be able to build new homes," Mr Gove added.
The minister will use the so-called "responsible actor scheme", to be established in the spring, to block such companies from getting planning or building control approval.
Sky News learnt that major companies including Barratt Developments and Persimmon are preparing for the imminent signing of a legally binding contract with the government that could ultimately cost the industry £5bn or more.
One executive said they expected the final contract to be signed and unveiled as soon as next week, although they cautioned that the timing remained fluid.
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