Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the Mercedes F1 team’s sponsorship deal with a firm behind some of the cladding on Grenfell Tower
Michael Gove has written to the Mercedes F1 team asking them to drop their sponsorship deal with a firm behind some of Grenfell Tower’s cladding – despite facing accusations of hypocrisy.
The Levelling Up Secretary said he is “deeply disappointed” with the F1 team’s decision to accept the deal with cladding firm Kingspan.
He called on the team to drop the partnership with Kingspan as the deal would “undermine” the achievements Mercedes and Sir Lewis Hamilton have made in British sporting history.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff apologised to Grenfell Tower survivors and bereaved relatives who wrote to him. He said it was not their intention to cause “additional hurt” by accepting a sponsorship deal with Kingspan.
But he did not say the F1 team will drop the sponsorship deal.
AFP via Getty Images)
This is despite fresh criticism from Mr Gove’s Labour counterpart, Lisa Nandy who welcomed Mr Gove’s swift criticisms of the F1 team’s actions.
Ms Nandy, however, went a step further to criticise Mr Gove and accuse him of hypocrisy.
Kingspan’s K15 insulation was one of the products installed on Grenfell Tower during its refurbishment, although the majority of the insulation used on the west London tower block was made by another company.
Writing to Mr Gove, Ms Nandy highlighted the Tories had taken political donations from developers who use the same cladding that caused the tragedy.
She added: “For almost four and a half years, the victims of the Grenfell tragedy have fought tirelessly for justice. Michael Gove was absolutely right to call out this deeply insensitive and inappropriate decision, but if he wants to take a principled stance then he needs to look closer to home.
“To criticise others while his own Party takes hundreds of thousands in political donations from developers that use the same dangerous cladding that caused the Grenfell Tower fire is nothing short of rank hypocrisy.”
Apologising to families who had lost loved ones in the fire, Mr Wolff said: “The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire was beyond imaginable to me, and it should never have happened. On behalf of our team, I would sincerely like to apologise to you for the additional hurt that this announcement has caused. It was never our intention to do so.
“The work of the public inquiry to establish the full causes of the tragedy is crucially important. Prior to concluding our partnership, we engaged with Kingspan in depth to understand what role their products played in what happened at Grenfell.
“Kingspan have stated that they played no role in the design or construction of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, and that a small percentage of their product was used as a substitute without their knowledge in part of the system which was not compliant with building regulations and was unsafe.
“I know that this does not change in any way the awful tragedy you suffered, or the deep and ongoing pain felt in your community, and I would like to thank Grenfell United for the offer to meet in person for me to learn and understand better.”
James Moy Photography/PA Images)
But Mr Gove said in his letter to the Mercedes F1 team: “I note your defence of Kingspan’s actions in your letter to Grenfell United of 3 December.
“However the Government’s formal representations during the Grenfell Inquiry noted that Kingspan employees knew their products were more combustible than they were advertising them to be.”
He added: “The achievements of Mercedes and Sir Lewis Hamilton in recent years represent a British success story of which we are all proud. I hope you will reconsider this commercial partnership, which threatens to undermine all the good work the company and sport have done.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I haven’t spoken to the PM specifically about this issue.
“You’ve seen the tweet Michael Gove sent out on this subject. More generally I’d point to the action we are taking to improve building safety.”
An inquiry is examining how Grenfell Tower came to be coated in flammable materials which contributed to the spread of flames which shot up the tower in June 2017, killing 72 people.
Ms Nandy also called on driver Lewis Hamilton to make his views “clearly known”.
Mr Hamilton has previously written about the Grenfell Tower fire on his Instagram account.
In 2020 he posted a picture with a caption that said: “Today marks three years since the horrific Grenfell Tower fire in London.
“Remembering the 72 souls we lost and their loved ones, and everyone affected by this tragedy.”