Open letter re KPMG and the Grenfell Tower inquiry

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I have co-signed the following letter, which has been reported by the Guardian:

We the undersigned, call upon the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister Theresa May to reverse the decision to appoint KPMG as advisors to the Grenfell Tower inquiry, without competition.

The failure of KPMG to disclose a clear conflict of interest – that KPMG audit Celotex, the parent company which produced the flammable cladding, alongside its role as auditors of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Rydon Group, the principal contractor, raises serious questions about the professionalism of KPMG and its ability to define and serve the public interest.

KPMG’s reputation has already been seriously tarnished by the failed HBOS and Cooperative Bank audits in the UK, as well as its flawed auditing of overseas banks including Wachovia, New Century FinancialWells Fargo, Countrywide and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (for which it has paid out millions of dollars in fines and settlements). KPMG failures are also closely associated with the developing Gupta political scandal in South Africa.

The Government’s Grenfell Tower inquiry is already facing criticism from Grenfell survivors and victims for a lack of inclusivity and diversity, failure to consider the deregulatory background via a series of reckless political decisions, made by Government’s of various colours in the decades leading up to the Grenfell disaster.

Government must recognise that appointing advisors so closely associated with firms under inquiry can only further fuel rumours of a deliberate cover-up and erode public trust.

Big 4 accounting firms actively lobbied the Conservative Party in the lead up to the 2010 General Election to close the Audit Commission, which audited and investigated public bodies like The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO).

The Audit Commission was shut by Government in April 2015, leaving an accountability vacuum in local government audit and fraud investigation, into which cases like Grenfell ultimately fall.

KPMG and other audit firms have directly profited from Government austerity, via the “bonfire of quangos” and related boom in consultancy and outsourcing work, while governance and scrutiny standards in public bodies have fallen.

We question why the Cabinet Office only chose to announce the appointment of KPMG to the controversial Grenfell advisory role in December, when the decision was made in August?

How does the Government’s covert, fast-track appointment of KPMG as Grenfell advisor chime with public statements about the need to repair trust with the Grenfell Tower Community?

It is entirely inappropriate to reward RBKC auditors KPMG with Grenfell Tower inquiry work and we urge Government to reverse the decision and to cancel the KPMG contract.

Surname Name Organisation Title
Allen Lily
Anderson Samiah New School Economics- Goldsmiths Founder
Apps Peter Journalist
Baker Elly National Education Union
Bartley Jonathan The Green Party Co-Leader
Bellows Anita Disabled People Against Cuts
Benjamin Joel Research for Action
Berry Sian Green Party member of the London Assembly
Binder Miriam Disabled People Against Cuts
Boait Fran Positive Money Director
Burnip Linda Disabled People Against Cuts
Caller Hannah Focus E15
Chute Richard Earls Court Residents Association
Clifford Ellen Disabled People Against Cuts
Clifton Sarah-Jayne Jubilee Debt Campaign - Director
Cobham Alex Tax Justice Network Director
Colvin Naomi Campaigner
Cooper Dr Vickie Open University
Daniel Rhonda London School of Economics
Dearden Nick Global Justice Now Director
Dent-Coad Emma MP for Kensignton
Duckworth Sam
Edwards Michael Bartlett School - UCL Professor
El-Gingihy Youssef Author of "How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps" GP
Ellard Bob Disabled People Against Cuts
Fraser Ian Financial journalist & author of Shredded: Inside RBS The Bank That Broke Britain
Gilbert Paul University of Sussex Lecturer in International Development -
Gill Dr Bob GP and Producer ‘The Great NHS Heist’ Doctor
Graeber David London School of Economics Professor
Gray John LB Newham Cllr
Greene Andy Disabled People Against Cuts
Hamilton John Lewisham People Before Profit
Hilder Paul Campaigner
Hodkinson Dr Stuart University of Leeds Doctor, Associate Professor
Hodson Ian British Food and Allied Workers Union National President
Jasper Lee Blacksox
Jeffrey Nicola Disabled People Against Cuts
Jenkins Ian Merthyr Rising Festival Organiser
Jones Dr Paul University of Liverpool
Keats Andy Serious Banking Complaints Bureau Director
Keen Steve Economist and Author
Kelly John Disabled People Against Cuts
Kennedy Seraphima Goldsmiths University of London
Laws Vince Disabled People Against Cuts
Lewis Clive MP
Lines Tom Economics Consultant
MacFarlane Laurie Open Democracy -
Madden David London School of Economics
Mahmoud Sarah New Economics Foundation Senior Economist
Matthews Cerys MBE
McGowan Mark The Artist Taxi Driver
McKenna Denise Disabled People Against Cuts
McKenzie Lisa London School of Economics Professor
McNeil Jo University of Liverpool UCU President
McNulty Mike B.A.C.A
Miller David University of Bath Professor
Minton Anna University of East London Reader in Architecture & Author ‘Big Capital: Who is London For?’
Mitchell Neil Businessman & Anti-Corruption Campaigner
Moore Paul HBOS Whistleblower
Murphy Richard City University of London FCA Professor of Practice in International Political Economy
Muverengwi Faith Tapepuka
Nightingale John Reverend
O’Neil Dr Martin Cardiff University Dr
Oswald Michael Documentary Filmmaker: The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire
Palmer Hilda Hazards Campaign/ Families Against Corporate Killers
Paton Dr Kirsteen University of Liverpool
Peoples Audit - - -
Peters Paula Disabled People Against Cuts
Pettifor Ann PRIME Director
Pinto-Duschinsky Nendie ‘On the Ground at Grenfell’ Director
Quentin David Barrister
Rogers Ludovica Debt Resistance UK
Runswick Alexandra Unlock Democracy
Russell Lucie Communications Professional
Ryan-Collins Josh UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose -
Samuels Jane
Shah Atul University of Suffolk Professor of Accounting and Finance
Shaheen Faiza CLASS Think Tank Director
Sikka Prem University of Essex Emeritus Professor of Accounting
Snell Will Tax Justice UK
Sng Paul Director ‘Dispossession: The Great Housing Swindle’
Stepanovic Lisa Social Ark CIC
Stephanou Georgie Potent Whisper
Tarry Sam President of CLASS Think Tank and Cllr LB Barking and Dagenham -
The People vs PFI - - -
Thorpe Doug Left Unity -
Tombs Steve The Open University Professor of Criminology
Topple Steve Independent Journalist
Tucker Pilgrim Community Organiser -
Tyler Imogen Lancaster University Professor
Wainright Hilary Red Pepper Editor
Waugh Megan University of Leeds -
Whyte David University of Liverpool Professor
Wilson Nicholas Independent anti-corruption campaigner. -
Womack Amelia The Green Party Deputy Leader
Wray Ben Commonweal Head of Policy -
Wynne-Jones Ros Journalist -
Zlotowitz Sally Housing and Mental Health Network Clinical and Community Psychologist