Statement from Emma Dent Coad

Grenfell: false accusations factcheck

12.11.19

My usual response to trolling on social media is ‘one factual rebuttal and walk away’. However, the false accusations linking me to the decision on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has returned once again.  A good friend of mine was once physically attacked for defending me on this.

So here are some checkable facts which I hope will end this libel.

I joined the Board of the TMO in June 2008 and left in October 2012. Here is a link to the Board of Directors, also showing which Councillors were on it and when. Council Leader Cllr Elizabeth Campbell was on the Board at the same time as me:

https://companycheck.co.uk/company/03048135/THE-ROYAL-BOROUGH-OF-KENSINGTON-AND-CHELSEA-TENANT-MANAGEMENT-ORGANISATION-LIMITED/companies-house-data

During my tenure there had been numerous complaints from residents about the condition of Grenfell Tower: broken lifts, draughty windows, poor insulation, and the heating and hot water system regularly breaking down.

In October 2012 (around the time I left the TMO) the then Cabinet Member Cllr Tim Coleridge announced that a major refurbishment would be undertaken. Residents were pleased. At the time the proposed contractor was Leadbitter. The scope of the work was agreed at the time, but the detail was to come. Link to press release:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pressrelease/pressreleasePage.aspx?id=4255

In April 2013 responsibility for the project was handed over to the new Cabinet Member, Cllr Rock Feilding-Mellen.

It was not until January 2014 that the planning application was agreed (search for Grenfell Tower via this link):

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/default.aspx#tabs-planning-2

In April 2014 it was announced by the Council and TMO that due to costs the contract had been awarded to Rydon rather than Leadbitter who had scoped the work. Note that this was AFTER the planning application was granted approval:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pressrelease/pressreleasePage.aspx?id=4714

Throughout the summer amendments were made and detailed specifications decided. Cladding materials proposed at 1 July 2014:

There were several amendments during this period. Often the details of these are done by ‘delegated decision’, which means the final details and choice of materials is decided by officers and not the Planning Committee.

Then on 30 September 2014 ‘Condition 3’ was agreed by delegated decision; this related to the final choice of cladding:

Who made those decisions, advised by whom, and why, should be thoroughly scrutinised by the agencies tasked with the job of investigating these matters and allocating accountability, responsibility, blame and – we hope ultimately – guilt.

To be clear, I was on the Board when the principle of refurbishing Grenfell Tower was discussed, but I was nowhere near the decision-making process for the detailed specifications for refurbishing Grenfell which started when I left. Board members agreed the contract but do not specify cladding or indeed any other technical details. Neither should they.

However, on 16 June a report in the Standard said: ‘She (EDC) was on the board of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation when the tower’s refurbishment was discussed. Kensington’s ex-Tory MP, Victoria Borwick, said Ms Dent Coad shared “collective responsibility” for the work.’

In the following weeks I received countless death threats.

As you can see clearly from the dates when decisions were made above, the accusation is incorrect. I have asked Victoria Borwick three times to accept that her accusation was mistaken. She has refused.

Now Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate Sam Gyimah has repeated this very dangerous fiction. He has been asked to apologise for his mistake. At the time of writing he has not apologised.  

Emma Dent Coad

Statement from the RBKC Labour Opposition Group

Statement from Councillor Pat Mason, Leader of the RBKC Labour Opposition Group,

about the comments made by Sam Gyimah to the Independent on 11th November 2019

Commenting in an Independent newspaper report on 11th November 2019 about who may be responsible for the Grenfell Tower Fire, Sam Gyimah is quoted saying, “The Council is responsible and there are Labour councillors on there that could have stopped some of the decisions and didn’t”.

Commenting on who may have been responsible for the decisions made about the cladding, he is reported saying, “Emma Dent Coad(who was a member of the RBKC Labour Group before the Grenfell Tower Fire and still is a member) was on the Council and was part of all the discussions that went on in terms of the cladding”.

Unless Mr Gyimah can provide the evidence to support his allegation that RBKC Labour councillors had some responsibility for decisions that led to the Fire, we will expect an apology and a retraction of these allegations in writing. If he does not either provide the evidence or retract and apologise, we will instruct John Cooper QC, who represents the RBKC Labour Opposition Group in all matters regarding the Grenfell Tower Fire Public Inquiry, to advise on what legal action should be taken.

As a former Conservative government minister whom we would have expected to be familiar with the rules and procedures of public inquiries, Mr Gyimah should have recognised that it is the duty of Sir Martin Moore-Bick and the second phase of the Grenfell Tower Fire Public Inquiry that begins in 2020, to decide who is responsible for this atrocity, and that it is improper and irresponsible for him to have prejudged what the Inquiry may decide.

When, in January 2018, Sir Martin Moore-Bick refused the Labour Group’s application for Core Participant status at the Inquiry for a second time, he said, “At the moment I have seen nothing to suggest that any of your clients (Labour councillors)is likely to be subject to personal criticism……I do not think it likely that the Labour Group on the Council, or any of its members, is likely to be criticised for not having opposed more vigorously the polices and decisions of the majority party”.

Ends

For further information contact: Cllr Pat Mason -Email:cllr.pat.mason@rbkc.gov.uk Tel: 07496 538 101