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KPMG steps down from Grenfell council inquiry over 'conflict of interest' row

Auditing giant KPMG has stepped down from its project management role in the Grenfell Tower inquiry after campaigners raised concerns that the appointment created a conflict of interest.

Although the firm said it was confident there was no conflict of interest present in the situation, it conceded its position because of fears that criticism “risks undermining confidence in the inquiry.”

The issue was revealed after a group of campaigners last week sent an open letter claiming that KPMG had been responsible for auditing Celotex – the company that created the cladding which caught fire during the tragedy – as well as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and Rydon Group, the principal contractor reportedly in charge of the refurbishment.

In a statement released after stepping down, the auditor said: “Whilst we are confident that no conflicts exist between our role advising the inquiry and our work for other clients, we recognise that 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.”

KPMG also confirmed that it was only involved in an advisory role in the inquiry and would waive its fees for all work undertaken to date.

Last week, the RBKC announced that it had taken control of the borough’s tenant management organisation (TMO) following an order from prime minister Theresa May.

The decision leaves the council fully responsible for the housing needs of residents in the area after the TMO was heavily criticised for its actions surrounding the tragedy, in June last year.

The Inquiry was set up to look at the circumstances surrounding the fire and will attempt to establish the facts and make recommendations as to what action should be taken by other authorities to stop such a tragedy happening again.

Top image: Rick Findler PA Wire

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