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Mercedes and Wolff under growing pressure to axe sponsor involved in Grenfell Tower disaster

Mercedes and Wolff under growing pressure to axe sponsor involved in Grenfell Tower disaster

F1 News

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Mercedes and Wolff under growing pressure to axe sponsor involved in Grenfell Tower disaster

Mercedes and Wolff under growing pressure to axe sponsor involved in Grenfell Tower disaster

Mercedes and Toto Wolff have again faced a renewed call to reconsider a sponsorship deal with insulation firm Kingspan given its involvement in the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Mercedes recently announced a tie-up with Kingspan which has resulted in the logo of the company featuring on the nose of the W12 cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

But Mercedes has faced a cross-parliamentary outcry in the United Kingdom for the agreement due to Kingspan manufacturing insulation that was used on the Grenfell Tower prior to the fire that claimed the lives of 72 people on June 14, 2017.

Wolff acknowledged the criticisms by writing a letter to Grenfell United, a group that consists of survivors, the bereaved and members of the wider community.

Although apologising for the "hurt" caused by the announcement, Wolff went on to defend Kingspan's involvement in the disaster, and by implication, the deal would remain in place.

The Mercedes team principal has at least agreed to meet with members of Grenfell United at a later date to "learn and understand better" their situation.

In a letter in response, British MP Michael Gove, who is Secretary of State of the department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has expressed "deep disappointment" with Mercedes' decision to accept sponsorship from Kingspan.

In his letter, Gove wrote that "the Grenfell bereaved, survivors and wider community have been failed in the past by both the state and the private sector.

"They are right to feel deeply hurt and aggrieved by your decision to sign this sponsorship deal whilst the public inquiry continues."

Gove then refutes Wolff's defence of Kingspan, highlighting evidence from employees from an ongoing inquiry.

Those employees "knew their products were more combustible than they were advertising them to be".

He added: "In written and verbal testimony, former Kingspan staff have accepted that their approach to the certification of materials was 'fundamentally misleading', that they 'definitely' knew it was more combustible than they portrayed, and that their approach was 'to get away with as much as possible'.

"One employee admitted that he had been "embroiled in a deliberate and calculated deceit by Kingspan" in relation to fire-safety tests."

Gove has highlighted the questions being faced by Kingspan in the inquiry are "of the utmost gravity".

He has further indicated his concern with regards to such advertising which he says will "come under constant and close review [by his Government colleagues] to ensure that [it] remains fit for purpose and reflects the public interest.

“I am conscious that there are very real questions about whether Parliament would support a statutory regime that enabled a core participant in a public enquiry into how 72 people lost their lives to advertise its products publicly to millions of families across the country."

Gove concludes by calling on Wolff and Mercedes to think again about its agreement with Kingspan.

He wrote: “The achievements of Mercedes and Sir Lewis Hamilton in recent years represent a British success story of which we are all proud.

"I hope you will reconsider this commercial partnership, which threatens to undermine all the good work the company and the sport have done.”

A copy of Gove's letter has been sent to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Nadine Dorries MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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