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Ten charged in fraud squad probe into Grenfell Tower fire alarms firm

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Ten people have been charged with offences following a four-year investigation by the Met’s complex fraud team into the contractor responsible for fire alarms at Grenfell Tower.

Housing services company Lakehouse was being probed after accusations it installed defective safety equipment in hundreds of London properties. 

An Evening Standard investigation last year revealed the inquiry relating to a £184 million government grant to renovate council properties and install alarms and emergency lighting.

Hackney council had received allegations of “fraud and overcharging” from whistleblowers.

Police released images showing the inside of the burnt-out building (Met Police)

A council investigation found some fire safety work was “defective, including incorrectly installed alarms and emergency lighting systems”. Lakehouse denied any wrongdoing.

The council wrote to 166 town hall chief executives warning them to check work done by Lakehouse and subcontractor Polyteck. 

Today police revealed 10 people have been charged. Andrew Langston, 40, and Lee David Wylie, 46 — among five people charged with bribery and theft — are understood to have been contract managers at Lakehouse.

The other three are understood to have worked for a variety of contractors on behalf of Lakehouse. 

Langston and Wylie’s partners Josephine Ashley-Russell, 37, and Sarah Kipping, 46, were charged with money laundering, as was Leslie Ratty, 67. Costantinos Polycarpou, 40, Polyteck’s managing director, and his father, Yiannakis, 63, the company chairman, were charged with bribery. 

A Met spokesman said: “In 2014 the Borough of Hackney referred an allegation of fraud to the Met. A total of 10 people have now been charged.” 

The allegedly defective works were signed off by staff at Hackney Homes, the arms-length management organisation set up by the council in 2006 in order to receive its allocation from the Government’s £1.6 billion Decent Homes programme, which aimed to help councils raise the standards of housing stock. 

Sources said the allegations date back to the inception of the scheme’s 2011 funding strategy. A spokeswoman for Hackney council said: “We are pleased that after a long period of investigation, this matter is finally being progressed.”

A Lakehouse spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.” Polyteck has been approached for comment.

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