A French managing director who has taken seven months to agree to give evidence at the Grenfell inquiry has agreed it was "false" that the combustible cladding used on the Grenfell Tower was under the same fire classification as other types of cladding.
The inquiry has begun hearing long-awaited evidence from Claude Schmidt, managing director of Arconic Architectural Products, the French firm that made the combustible cladding, after he originally refused to co-operate with the inquiry.
When asked if he agreed the type of flammable cladding never achieved the Class B fire classification published in its specification, he answered "yes".
Mr Schmidt said that until after the Grenfell fire "we were not aware of what was written within the fire test" about the type of cladding used on the tower block.
When asked if Arconic as a company accepts responsibility for selling the cladding on a "false basis", he replied "yes on incomplete information yes".
He said the information about fire classification was not false but it "didn't go into detail, it didn't mention according to European standards the different reactions to fire".
Mr Schmidt said there would be a "basic understanding" of the rules in countries that the company were selling products to, but he said "Arconic's approach is that we didn't have a detailed knowledge of the regulation".
The senior executive then accepted that as a manufacturer Arconic should know how its product would perform in a fire.
When asked why new fire classification tests that complied with English standards were not carried on the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower when it began being produced in France, Mr Schmidt said "frankly I have no idea".
Mr Schmidt then agreed fresh tests would have been a "good idea". He added: "I do think potentially some extra tests would have been merited."
Mr Schmidt said he did not accept personal responsibility as managing director and president of Arconic Architectural products for the "false sale" of the cladding.
He said: "I felt the product was suitable and in accordance with British legislation as I understood it at the time," but added he was "sorry" he "didn't know" the English legislation.
Mr Schmidt said: "What I understand now is that there were different ways of being in agreement with English legislation."
Mr Schmidt was one of four witnesses from the firm who cited a rarely-used French law designed to protect commercial secrets, to avoid giving evidence.
The other three, Claude Wehrle; Peter Froehlich and Gwenaëlle Derrendinger, have not yet agreed to co-operate with the inquiry.
The second phase of the Grenfell inquiry, which looks at how the building came to be covered in combustible cladding, resumed last week after being paused before Christmas because of COVID-19.
72 people were killed after the 24-storey building caught fire in June 2017.
Mr Schmidt is due to give evidence all week.