KPMG has stepped down from its role as an adviser to the Grenfell Tower inquiry after MPs, academics and campaigners raised “serious questions” about potential conflicts of interest
The decision comes after an open letter claimed the firm had failed to disclose that it acts as auditor to Celotex, the parent company that produced the flammable cladding used at Grenfell, as well as being auditor to both the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Rydon Group, the contractor that carried out the refurbishment of the tower.
The letter, which was signed by more than 70 individuals and organisations including Kensington MP Emma Dent Coat, campaign group Defend Council Housing and academics from a number of universities and the London School of Economics, said there are “serious questions about the professionalism of KPMG and its ability to define and serve the public interest”.
The accountancy firm said it is confident there is no conflict but recognised that the “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” a statement from KPMG read.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the Grenfell Tower inquiry said: “The company had no role in the inquiry’s investigations or decision-making processes and its contract contained strict confidentiality clauses to ensure that there could be no conflicts of interest.
“Following concerns expressed by some core participants, the inquiry team had discussed the contract with KPMG, which has agreed that its work should now cease. The support and confidence of all core participants is integral to the work of the inquiry.”
The Grenfell Tower fire in June last year killed 71 people.
The public inquiry, which was set up in August, is being led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.