THE COMPANY was questioned by a Stormont committee in Northern Ireland about its products and the inquiry, while the Grenfell hearings heard from a former manager who had no idea the material burnt ‘ferociously’ in one of its failed tests.

BBC News, The Independent and ITV News reported on the company’s appearance at the Stormont finance committee and its continued witness hearings at the Grenfell inquiry, with Kingspan’s Fergal Murphy having ‘assured’ the committee in Northern Ireland of the company’s ‘dedication to fire safety’.

Kingspan is based in the Republic of Ireland, and has three sites employing 400 staff in Northern Ireland, with the committee focused on the Building (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020. It has looked at ‘the possibility of introducing small-scale testing’ on building material, including insulation, and Mr Murphy said that relying on such tests ‘should not be a substitution for large-scale testing’.

He also said that changing the regulations relating to fire testing ‘could mean that some material would need to be imported’, leading to job losses and an increase in its carbon footprint. However he was questioned by politician Maliosa McHugh, who asked him ‘if any life was meant to take less priority than a carbon footprint’ – Mr Murphy responded that fire safety was Kingspan’s ‘main concern’.

Mr McHugh added that there was an ‘inconsistency’ in Kingspan calling for greater testing ‘despite ignoring failed tests’ pre Grenfell, and in response Mr Murphy said the company had ‘acknowledged and apologised for shortcomings’; it would have not recommended the use of K15 had it been ‘consulted’. It has put changes into action post Grenfell including ‘full traceability on the K15 product... and new fire testing protocols’.

The committee also questioned Mr McHugh over the recent comments revealed at the inquiry that had come from the company’s technical manager Philip Heath, who had said builders asking questions were mistaking him for ‘someone who gives a damn’. Mr McHugh said ‘it would be inappropriate for me to comment on Mr Heath’ as ‘he is still employed by Kingspan’.

At the inquiry meanwhile, the former manager of the technical team at Kingspan – Tony Millichap – gave evidence, stating that he was unaware that K15 had ‘burnt very ferociously’ in a fire test, and ‘did not remember’ anyone at the company ‘expressing concerns’ about its safety while he was in charge from 2010 to 2015. He also said he was ‘surprised’ about Kingspan only withdrawing the test report for K15 this year, and thought the 2005 test ‘absolutely’ represented the product being sold.

He stated: ‘I was aware of old technology being used in the 2005 test. What I didn’t appreciate was that it didn’t represent, or wasn’t representative of, the product that was being sold latterly when I was in the role. I must admit the difference between old and new technology is lost on me. I worked on the assumption that the test which had been established and used in the business for over five years was representative of what was being supplied in the market.

‘Knowing what I know now, that should have been looked into in more detail at the time, but I wasn’t aware that could, should or did have an impact on its fire performance.’