KPMG quits Grenfell Inquiry role over audit conflicts

 KPMG is standing down from its role as project management adviser to the Grenfell Inquiry with immediate effect, after concerns were raised about the Big Four firm’s auditing contracts for some of the organisations under investigation over their role in the fire in the tower block in June last year, which claimed 71 lives

The Big Four firm acts as auditor to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where the tower is located, as well as Rydon Construction, the building contractors who refurbished the tower in 2015, and Celotex, which manufactured insulation material used in the tower.

A KPMG spokesperson said: ‘Whilst we are confident that no conflicts exist between our role advising the Inquiry and our work for other clients, we recognise that strength of opinion about our role risks undermining confidence in the inquiry. We share the view that nothing should distract from the important work it is undertaking to better understand the causes of the tragedy at Grenfell tower. 

‘We have therefore mutually agreed with the Inquiry that we will step down from our role with immediate effect.

‘We were appointed to advise on structuring a project management office for the Grenfell Tower public inquiry.  Our role was purely operational and advised on project management best practice and had no role advising on the substance of the inquiry. We will waive our fees for our work undertaken to date.’

Last week more than 70 individuals and organisations, including MPs Clive Lewis and Emma Dent Coad, academics and campaigners, sent an open letter to the prime minister calling on her to cancel KPMG’s appointment to assist with the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

The letter stated: ‘Government must recognise that appointing advisors so closely associated with firms under inquiry can only further fuel rumours of a deliberate cover-up and erode public trust.’

It also claimed that the ‘covert, fast-track’ appointment of KPMG, which was made in August but not publicly announced until December, failed to chime with public statements about the need to repair trust with the Grenfell Tower community. According to Cabinet Office documents, the contract was worth £200,000 although KPMG has said it will not charge for the work conducted.

KPMG open letter on Grenfell Inquiry to the Prime Minister

Report by Pat Sweet

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