Grenfell designer: ‘Not my place’ to check designs for cavity barriers

A project designer for Harley Facades said it wasn’t his place to check if cavity barriers, a fire prevention detail, were included in the Grenfell Tower refurbishment plans, despite telling the inquiry it was his role to translate architects plans for the firm.

Kevin Lamb, who worked as a freelancer and didn’t know what his job title for the project would be until his business cards were printed, was shown plans drawn by architect Studio E during the inquiry today.

Counsel for the inquiry Kate Grange said that the drawings were unclear about whether cavity barriers were meant to be fitted around the building’s windows. She said: “When our expert looked at this drawing, he was not clear whether a cavity barrier was marked there. Did you ever think to go back to the architect and check and ask whether, at that window jamb position, there ought to be a cavity barrier?”

Lamb replied that there had been a discussion at a meeting around March 2015.

When Grange questioned why nobody at the meeting suggested checking with Studio E about whether cavity barriers were meant to be included, Lamb said: “Harley was my client and I was taking instructions from Harley. I don’t recall what was said, but it wouldn’t have been my place to actually do that anyway.”

Chair of the inquiry Sir Martin Moore-Bick interrupted the QC’s questioning to press the project designer more. He asked: “You say that, but you were translating the architect’s drawings into fabrication drawings, so you needed to understand yourself what was shown on the architect’s drawings didn’t you?”

Lamb said that was correct, but added: “Obviously everything that Harley told me to do would supersede that.”

The chair continued to question why Lamb didn’t raise the issue with the architect, to which he replied: “I was happy with advice from Harley. They were the cladding specialists, they obviously felt that it wasn’t necessary, or they had discussions, I don’t know.”

The freelancer also insisted he knew how important cavity barriers were in terms of preventing unseen fire spread, when asked by Grange.

Earlier this week, Harley design manager Daniel Anketell-Jones told the inquiry he erased his work computer of all files when he left the company, causing some of the Grenfell documents to be lost forever.

The inquiry continues.

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