The man advising the Government on its response to the Grenfell Tower disaster argued in favour of cuts to fire service funding and against fitting sprinklers to tower blocks.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced last night that Sir Ken Knight will chair an “independent expert advisory panel” to advise on new fire safety measures.
It has been pointed out that Knight advised the Government against retrofitting sprinklers to high rise residential buildings in his report on the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, in which six people died.
He wrote: “It is not considered as practical or economically viable to make a requirement for the retrospective fitting of fire suppression systems to all current high-rise residential buildings.”
Scrapbook has also found that Knight was the author of a 2013 report which advocated £200 million worth of cuts to the fire service.
The report’s recommendations included cutting the number of firefighters. In a BBC interview at the time, Knight said:
“The protection of services is not just about jobs, it’s about redefining what we want firefighters to do, what we want the fire service to do.
“So it is right, there will be an adjustment to numbers, of jobs, of people, of people doing different jobs, but that’s right in any business, in any industry, in any area of the public sector.”
Here’s how the report was covered by ITV news at the time:
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack warned that the report was “a fig leaf for slashing our fire and rescue service to bits”.
Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The review is effectively giving the government cover to embark on yet another round of damaging cuts to our fire service.”
The report was published at the same time as Boris Johnson was pushing through his plans to close 10 fire stations, take 14 fire engines out of service and sack 600 firefighters.
And, since its publication, former Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has frequently used the Knight report to fob off questions about fire safety.
So how can Knight credibly advise on measures to stop a repeat of the Grenfell disaster with a record like that?
And how can Sajid Javid credibly claim to be doing “everything possible” to prevent a repeat after appointing a nodding dog?
Far from doing whatever it takes to save lives, ministers have chosen one of their own to save their careers…