Scotland Yard probes French link to Grenfell fire


Scotland Yard probes French link to Grenfell fire: Bosses of company that made cladding for the tower block could face criminal charges under cross-Channel probe

  • Employees of the French arm of supplier Arconic have refused to give evidence 
  • Claude Wehrle, a fireman who was a technical manager, won’t give evidence
  • Authorities in London and Paris are ramping up efforts to gather evidence 

Bosses at the firm that made flammable cladding for Grenfell Tower could face criminal charges under a police probe extending across the Channel.

Employees of the French arm of supplier Arconic have refused to give evidence to the public inquiry into the inferno that claimed 72 lives in 2017. 

But authorities in London and Paris are ramping up efforts to gather evidence said to be ‘very useful in revealing the truth’.

Bosses at the firm that made flammable cladding for Grenfell Tower could face criminal charges under a police probe extending across the Channel 

Claude Wehrle, a fireman who was a technical manager, and Gwenaelle Derrendinger, a sales executive, are using an obscure French law they say prevents them from taking the stand. 

Mr Wehrle, who warned the cladding was dangerous in 2011, said he would not be giving evidence. Two other Arconic staff have not decided whether to appear.

‘The Met police have obtained information from the French authorities in the framework of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters,’ a French official told the Sunday Times.

Witnesses from Arconic have been summoned to appear before the inquiry when it resumes on January 11.

Scotland Yard declined to comment. 

Mr Wehrle and Miss Derrendinger, whose Linkedin profile says she works in sales, are refusing to attend the hearing while two more have not decided.

They claim they could be prosecuted under ‘the blocking statute’, a 1968 law that stops company data being shared in proceedings abroad.

Employees of the French arm of supplier Arconic have refused to give evidence to the public inquiry into the inferno that claimed 72 lives in 2017

Employees of the French arm of supplier Arconic have refused to give evidence to the public inquiry into the inferno that claimed 72 lives in 2017 

It has been used once in 52 years, and the French embassy in London has told the Foreign Office the law does not stop witnesses appearing at the inquiry.

Survivors and the bereaved say their testimony could be key to unlocking what went wrong with Grenfell’s refurbishment.

Mr Wehrle, a part-time fire brigade lieutenant in the picturesque town of Colmar, northeast France, is considered a crucial witness because he warned the cladding was dangerous six years before the tragedy.

He told the Daily Mail that he will not be giving evidence after following ‘legal advice’.

Natasha Elcock, chairman of the campaign group Grenfell United, said: ‘Our message to Claude is, ‘Come to the inquiry. Families who lost loved ones deserve to hear the truth from you. Ignore the lawyers, listen to your own morals’.’ The hearings will resume on January 11.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk