The council boss who resigned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire is now offering his services as a consultant advising on ‘financial austerity’ and a ‘green agenda’ – the very issues feared to be to blame for the deaths of at least 80 residents in the disaster.
Nicholas Paget-Brown quit as leader of the Kensington and Chelsea authority after a storm of criticism over the decision to use cut-price energy-saving cladding on the 24-storey building.
He had drawn widespread condemnation over the failure to support survivors of the fire in June as councillors attempted to hide from the public in closed-door meetings.
Nicholas Paget-Brown quit as leader of the Kensington and Chelsea authority because of the criticism when cut-price cladding was used
But now he has been accused of insulting residents by touting his services as an expert on cost cutting and supporting green issues.
Mr Paget-Brown set himself up on business networking website LinkedIn last month, offering his services as MD of NPB Consulting.
Since the disaster it has emerged that Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which managed Grenfell Tower on the council’s behalf, downgraded fireproof cladding to save cash.
The decision to use cheaper cladding on the tower saved £293,000 as part of a £9.2 million refurbishment. But the cladding’s highly inflammable foam panels are alleged to have helped the fire spread more quickly and trapped residents inside the block on June 14.
His LinkedIn page advertising his consultancy specialisms. The move has drawn fury from residents
Kensington and Chelsea’s bid to enhance its green credentials may also have contributed to the fire – because the cladding was fitted in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
When approached by The Mail on Sunday about his consulting company, Mr Paget-Brown said: ‘Great, isn’t it?’ He then marched off to avoid being asked further questions by a reporter.
Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, said: ‘Paget-Brown’s attempt to whitewash his career by becoming a cost-cutting consultant is the final insult to those so shamefully betrayed at Grenfell. He must be deluded if he thinks he has any credibility whatever after his resignation as council leader.’
The role of the cladding in the Grenfell Tower fire is being probed by police as part of a corporate manslaughter investigation
NPB Consulting also boasts that it will help clients hold ‘seminars and briefings’ – even though Mr Paget-Brown’s eventual undoing as council leader was his bid to prevent survivors attending the first cabinet meeting after the tragedy. A judge overturned his bid for the council’s cabinet to sit in private.
But when the meeting began Mr Paget-Brown adjourned it, claiming media reports of what was said could prejudice an official inquiry into the tragedy.
The move provoked outrage that locals were being kept in the dark. Downing Street also slammed his decision and Mr Paget-Brown resigned on June 30. Last night, Moyra Samuels, a local teacher and co-founder of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign hit out at Mr Paget Brown over his latest venture, saying: ‘I think it is a complete and utter disgrace and just shows his arrogance. How does it make sense? Is he going to be being rewarded for doing a bad job? Most ordinary people just get the sack. To effectively say, “I’m moving on swiftly to my next project” shows complete disdain for this community and the decisions that he made. Of course residents will be upset by this – we think it is disgraceful.’
The role of the cladding in the Grenfell Tower fire is being probed by police as part of a corporate manslaughter investigation.
It has been widely reported that Kensington and Chelsea Council and its tenant management organisation have been formally notified that its senior executives, including Mr Paget-Brown, could be interviewed under caution by police.
At the time of his resignation Mr Paget-Brown acknowledged that many questions about why the fire spread so quickly, including the role of the cladding, would need to be answered by the public inquiry.
He said: ‘As council leader I have to accept my share of responsibility for these perceived failings. In particular, my decision to accept legal advice that I should not compromise the public inquiry by having an open discussion in public yesterday, has itself become a political story. And it cannot be right that this should have become the focus of attention when so many are dead or still unaccounted for.’
Additional reporting: Charlotte Wace