CONCERNS have been raised that flammable insulation material used in Grenfell Tower remains in place at Scotland's flagship super-hospital three-and-a-half years after the horrifying blaze that claimed the lives of around 80 people.

Evidence stating there was "deceit" over the marketing of the safety of the Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation used at the 197ft-high Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow has been revealed to the disaster inquiry.

K15 has never been replaced at the hospital after NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said three years ago that Multiplex, the main contractor for the construction provided assurances the material was properly installed and met "Scotland's stringent building and fire safety regulations".

As concerns rose after Grenfell the health board said it was "one of the safest buildings in the UK in terms of fire engineering".

The Scottish Government also said it had been assured the insulation on the hospital which officially opened in July, 2015 was fitted correctly and met fire regulations.

But evidence provided to the Grenfell inquiry has heard that Kingspan marketed its K15 insulation with fire test certificates which did not represent the product being sold.

It has heard current and former staff of insulation manufacturer Kingspan tell about efforts they went to in order to convince the construction industry K15 was safe to use on buildings above 18m – despite a lack of genuine test data.

READ MORE: Cladding to be removed from Glasgow hospital as a precaution

And the health board told the Herald on Sunday this week that K15 remains in place at the QUEH and is safe.

One former executive said that the firm was involved in a “deliberate and calculated deceit”, which involved marketing the product without solid test evidence.

Kingspan technical manager Ivor Meredith said he was uncomfortable with how the company’s K15 insulation was being marketed, and that he was "under pressure" to get test results that proved it was safe.

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He said that "we were struggling to get the technology to pass, to justify our lie", and had been fired for gross misconduct in 2015.

K15 was one of two types of insulation used on Grenfell that turned out to be combustible.

Kingspan has denied wrongdoing and said it did not know its material was being used on Grenfell.

Mr Meredith said it was “common knowledge” that Kingspan was relying on a fire safety test certificate from “old technology” for the materials used on Grenfell Tower.

A newer version of combustible K15 sold from 2006 onwards was observed by Mr Meredith as having “burnt very ferociously” in one failed cladding test, but the firm persisted in using a 2005 test pass from an older version of the product to sell the newer one, the inquiry has heard.

Evidence to the Grenfell inquiry revealed that that fire-test results were secured using a “trial” version of the product that was also different to the version actually being sold to the construction industry.

Government officials responsible for fire safety in buildings became aware of the use of combustible insulation being used as part of cladding systems on high-rise blocks as far back as 2014, with K15 identified as the principal product, the inquiry has been told.

Kingspan technical manager Philip Heath has admitted in evidence that "with hindsight" it should have withdrawn K15 from the market as a product suitable for use on buildings above 18m after a revised version of the product dramatically failed a 2007 Building Research Establishment fire test.

In October, this year, it was confirmed that test certificates for K15 from the 2005 tests had been withdrawn.

Kingspan said: “It became apparent that the K15 manufactured in 2005 would not be representative of the product currently sold on the market from 2006 to today.”

The firm has acknowledged “process shortcomings during the period of 2005 to 2014 for which it sincerely apologises”.

But it said building regulations at the time permitted K15’s use on tall buildings providing the overall cladding system was compliant.

Evidence also emerged that the Kingspan threatened to injunct an industry insurer which wanted to tell its members the product was unsafe to use on high-rise buildings.

Kingspan called in solicitors after housing insurers NHBC (National House Building Council) suggested they would not cover high-rise buildings using Kingspan’s K15 insulation, as the manufacturers could not prove it was fire safe.

After more than 12 months of back and forth, by early-2015, a matter of months before the Glasgow super-hospital opened, the NHBC had placed ultimatums on Kingspan to provide test data to prove that Kooltherm K15 insulation was safe for use in buildings more than 18 metres tall.

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The horrifying Grenfell Tower blaze is the subject of an inquiry

A letter from NHBC to the insulators in 2015 said: “The absence of evidence from Kingspan means we will soon be faced with having to decline to accept buildings currently under construction with K15 products” without further evidence to support it could be used in tall buildings.

A response from Kingspan’s solicitors, Fenwick Elliott, requesting more time to prove they can be compliant, promised further action.

It said: “Given the seriousness of this matter, in particular the significant impact on our client’s business in terms of damage to its reputation and serious financial loss that would clearly be suffered […] our client considered it will be left with no alternative but to protect its position by applying to the court for an injunction preventing the NHBC from making the statements you propose in relation to the K15 boards.”

READ MORE: Architect warns of fire safety flaws in design for Glasgow superhospital

Tony Millichap, Kingspan’s head of technical between 2010 and 2015, has also provided evidence to the inquiry stating he was also oblivious that the K15 insulation was being sold with an unrepresentative fire test certificate.

And it emerged that a fire expert had warned the national construction body that the increasing use of flammable materials on high-rise buildings was “an accident waiting to happen” around three years before the Grenfell blaze.

Dr Barbara Lane’s comments were made to the NHBC in October 2014 following concerns about the fire test data.

Dr Lane, of engineering consultants Arup, had been engaged by Kingspan to ratify its test data but she was unable to “positively review" it.

The fire expert warned the NHBC: “Arup are actually deeply concerned about the lack of understanding of assemblies and the ongoing incorrect use of test reports for individual materials being applied to more complex building envelope forms.

“The use of highly combustible materials in residential buildings is now simply an accident waiting to happen.”

According to Kingspan's own literature from four years ago, its K15 material including pipe insulation covering at least 166,000 square foot of the hospital.

It states that the hospital's unusual design "created additional challenges" for specialist contractors who discussed how K15 "helped them to meet requirements".

The contractor said: “The shape of the building with many curves, angles and land locked areas made the need for lightweight, flexible and robust material imperative. Kingspan Kooltherm K15 Rainscreen Board provided the necessary thermal performance, ease of site installation and, most importantly, resilience to the West of Scotland weather until such time the overcladding was completed.”

It was installed on a range of façade systems on the external walls of the hospital.

According to Kingspan: "Insulating the building with Kingspan Kooltherm provided the necessary thermal performance needed to assist in the award of credits in the Energy section of the BREEAM assessment."

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Environmental Assessment Method, first launched in the UK in 1990 and sets best practice standards for the environmental performance of buildings through design, specification, construction and operation.

In August, 2017, it emerged that fire safety audits within the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, were found to be satisfactory.

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But further discussion led the health board to remove sections of unidentified (Aluminium Composite Material) cladding similar to what was found at Grenfell was found on parts of the hospital as a "precautionary" measure.

Then health secretary Shona Robison said she was "reassured" by the move.

But the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety was advised that K15 "is classified as an acceptable product under our building regulations and that it has been appropriately installed to ensure it met building and fire safety regulations".

Glasgow-based housing campaigner, Sean Clerkin, said: "There must be a thorough investigation of the Queen Elizabeth hospital. This flammable material has to be stripped out of the Queen Elizabeth to make it safe, and this has to be done as soon as possible."

The campaign co-ordinator for the Scottish Tenants Organisation added: "We are calling on the Scottish Government to give additional monies to the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board to take this highly flammable material down from immediately and make the hospital safe for all patients, workers and visitors."

A spokesman for NHSGGC said: "There are various external wall cladding and insulation systems used on the QUEH building and these were subject to stringent examination and testing following the Grenfell incident. As a result, on specific identified areas both external wall cladding and insulation were removed and replaced with non-combustible materials.

"The insulation material you refer to, K15, does form part of the cladding systems and was not replaced as it does not pose a risk.

"NHSGGC is satisfied that the cladding systems throughout the hospital are of a high standard in terms of safety and will not contribute to fire spread in the event of an incident.

"NHSGGC consulted with, and satisfied the enforcing authorities i.e. Building Standards and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, in regard to this matter.

"The cladding and insulation was installed in accordance with stringent building regulations.

"The hospital itself is designed and equipped to the highest standards for fire safety. It has heat and smoke fire alarm systems combined with automatic fire suppression sprinkler systems fitted in all areas, is equipped with designated fire-fighting apparatus and has fire evacuation lifts."

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NHSGCC were asked further questions on the nature of the cladding that was removed and exactly how much of the K15 remains this week, which remained unanswered as the Herald on Sunday went to press.