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New appeal on first anniversary of Brixton tragedy

Detectives investigating the deadly crowd crush at O2 Academy Brixton have made a fresh appeal on the first anniversary of the tragedy.

The Academy Music Group (AMG)-operated London venue has remained closed since the 15 December 2022 incident during a concert by Afrobeats artists Asake in which two people lost their lives. Concertgoer Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and security contractor Gaby Hutchinson, 23, both suffered fatal injuries, while a 22-year-old woman remains in hospital in a “very serious” condition.

Over the last 12 months, the Metropolitan Police has examined hundreds of hours of CCTV, taken more than 500 witness statements and seized over 5,000 pieces of evidence, and the detective leading the investigation, DCI Nigel Penney, has now released images of 13 people he would like to speak to.

“We remain focused on establishing exactly what happened that tragic evening, how Rebecca and Gaby came to lose their lives and why a young woman remains in hospital in a very serious condition a year later,” says DCI Penney.

“We owe it to the families who have been left heartbroken and with many unanswered questions to establish the truth about what happened to their loved ones, and continue to follow the evidence where it takes us – without fear or favour. There were thousands of people at the venue that evening, and today I am releasing images of 13 I would like to speak to as I believe they have vital information. I urge them to get in touch as soon as possible.”

AMG says it will announce a timeline for the 5,000-cap venue’s reopening “in due course”

He continues: “I would again ask that if you were at the Asake concert at the 02 Academy Brixton on 15 December 2022, and you were filming – we know from CCTV that many people were – please come forward and share that footage with the investigation, please help the heartbroken families get the answers they need.”

O2 Academy Brixton’s licence, which was revoked in the wake of the tragedy, was reinstated this past September – subject to 77 new safety conditions – following a two-day licensing review.

The revised measures include stronger doors that cannot be forced open by a crowd, the replacement of the divisional manager and venue manager who were in position on the night, enhanced risk management, an Event Management Plan for each show, and closer liaison with police and the licensing authority.

Additional conditions include employment of a new security team provided by Showsec (replacing AP Security), a new medical personnel contractor, upgraded CCTV inside and outside the venue, a new phased queue outside the venue, enhanced radio systems for personnel and bodyworn cameras, more external lighting and an external emergency tannoy system.

AMG says it will announce a timeline for the 5,000-cap venue’s reopening “in due course”.

“Over the past year, we have been driven by determination to learn all appropriate lessons from that night to ensure it can never be repeated”

“AMG continues to be devastated by the events of 15 December 2022 and our heartfelt condolences remain with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson,” an AMG spokesperson tells the BBC. “What happened was and is a tragedy

“Over the past year, we have been driven by determination to learn all appropriate lessons from that night to ensure it can never be repeated. We are pleased that the comprehensive plan for reopening the venue met with the approval of Lambeth licensing sub-committee.

“AMG is working hard to implement the new conditions before welcoming fans back to O2 Academy Brixton. There will be an announcement for the reopening timeline in due course.”

Meanwhile, the leadership of Lambeth Council has marked the first anniversary of the tragedy by laying flowers outside the venue and encouraging people to support the ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who lost their lives, as well as with the person who is still in hospital, and all those suffering the trauma of witnessing such distressing scenes at one of our borough’s live music venues,” says Cllr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s cabinet member for safer communities.

“Lambeth Council has worked incredibly hard over the last year to play our role in finding out what went wrong that tragic night and ensuring that we never see a tragedy like this in our borough again.”

 


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NTIA launches campaign to save Brixton Academy

The UK’s Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) has launched a campaign to save O2 Academy Brixton from closure.

The future of the 5,000-cap Academy Music Group (AMG) venue is under threat after police applied to Lambeth Council seeking the revocation of the venue’s licence, having “lost confidence in the premises licence holder” following the events of 15 December 2022, when two people died in a crush at a show by singer/songwriter Asake.

An online petition launched to save the London venue by concert-goer Stuart O’Brien has attracted almost 100,000 signatures, and the NTIA is now urging people to show the importance of the Academy by submitting representations of support to the council by midnight on Monday 15 May.

It has formulated a letter for representation on its system for supporters to sign and submit to the authority.

“Without this venue in London, we would see a huge void in our cultural economy, a considerable gap in touring capability, loss of jobs and one less platform for headline domestic and international artists to perform, losing out to our international counterparts,” reads the letter.

“The potential impact of this closure would have huge ramification within the local economy”

“This venue is a huge talent bed for new artists, and for many performing within this space, it has been a turning point within their career, with many artists today citing this space as one of their pinnacle career moments.

“The potential impact of this closure would have huge ramification within the local economy, recent research has shown that we are already seeing an estimated 1/2 million pounds worth of lost revenue being suffered by local businesses every week since its temporary closure, with some unable to weather the suspension period.”

It continues: “I have not lost sight of the tragic incident that occurred in December , but would respectfully ask you to consider working with AMG and the venue to learn from what has happened and enhance the licence to ensure that this could never happens again.

“At this moment I would urge all involved to step forward and engage in productive and meaningful discussions, with an aim to resolve the current challenges and present a unified position on delivering the safe and effective management of this space in the future.”

 


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Save Brixton Academy petition launched

A petition has been launched to save O2 Academy Brixton after the Met Police called for the venue’s licence to be revoked.

The 5,000-cap Academy Music Group (AMG) venue has been closed since two people died in a crush at a show by singer/songwriter Asake on 15 December 2022, amid reports that “a large number of people breached the entrance doors and gained entry to the venue”.

Concert attendee Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and security operative Gaby Hutchinson, 23, both suffered fatal injuries in the incident, while a third person was left in a critical condition.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that police have applied to Lambeth Council seeking the revocation of the venue’s licence, having “lost confidence in the premises licence holder”. AMG, meanwhile, said it had “presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely” following discussions with the authorities, with the council set to consider both parties’ applications “in due course”.

“Brixton Academy is an iconic London music venue and should this cease to be so, another part of the musical landscape and history is lost forever”

More than 15,000 people have already signed the petition launched by concert-goer Stuart O’Brien, which is appealing for new security and crowd control measures to be implemented at the venue in the wake of the tragedy, rather than outright closure.

“Brixton Academy is an iconic London music venue and should this cease to be so, another part of the musical landscape and history is lost forever,” it says. “Let’s not turn this venue into soulless flats as would more than likely happen in the event of permanent closure.

“I personally have been to hundreds of gigs in my lifetime, many of them here and I have never once felt like safety was an issue. The loss of this venue would also have a devastating affect on the local economy. So please, let’s help keep music live and Save Brixton Academy.”

Lambeth Council has already initiated an independent health and safety review of the venue, led by former council chief Paul Martin.

 


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Police want O2 Academy Brixton licence revoked

O2 Academy Brixton faces the threat of having its licence revoked following an application from the Metropolitan Police.

The Academy Music Group (AMG) venue had its premises licence suspended in the wake of the tragedy at a sold-out, 5,000-cap show by Afrobeats singer/songwriter Asake on 15 December 2022, which was abandoned following reports that “a large number of people breached the entrance doors and gained entry to the venue”.

Two people – concert attendee Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and security operative Gaby Hutchinson, 23, both suffered fatal injuries in the incident, while a third person was left in a critical condition.

In its submission to Lambeth Council, the Met says it has “lost confidence in the premises licence holder”.

“On Monday 16 January, the licence of the Brixton O2 Academy was suspended for three months,” says a police statement. “On 14 April, the Met Police submitted an application for a review of premises licence to Lambeth Council and will be seeking a revocation of the licence. This matter will be decided at a future council sub-committee hearing on a date to be confirmed.”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council, which has initiated an independent health and safety review of the venue led by former council chief Paul Martin, confirms it has received applications from both the police and the Academy for a licence review and variation, respectively.

“There are currently there are two outstanding applications in relation to the venue, the licence variation and the licence review”

“In January the sub-committee imposed a condition requiring the venue to cease all licensable activities pending it submitting a variation application – and the council granting that application,” the spokesperson tells the Standard. “The operators of the O2 Academy Brixton were required at that last meeting to come up with workable changes to their licence in a way that fully addresses police concerns about the venue’s operations, and ensure no repeat of the tragic events of 15 December, via that variation application.

“The variation application has been made, and will be considered at a licensing sub-committee on a date that will be confirmed shortly. The O2 Academy Brixton will not be able to carry out any licensable activities until after that meeting at the earliest.

“On April 14 an application to review the O2 Academy Brixton’s licence was submitted by the Met Police. That application is now subject to a statutory consultation period. As a result there are currently there are two outstanding applications in relation to the venue, the licence variation and the licence review. Lambeth Council will consider both in due course.”

AMG says that it has “co-operated fully” with both the police and the council since the tragedy took place.

“We have had regular meetings and discussions with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council at which we have presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely,” it says. “AMG has been awaiting feedback on those proposals for several weeks and looks forward to hearing from the police as soon as possible in constructive terms. The review of our licence will take place through the formal process with Lambeth Council in due course.”

 


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Health and safety review for O2 Academy Brixton

Lambeth Council is to undertake a thorough health and safety review of O2 Academy Brixton following the deadly crowd crush at the venue last December.

The Academy Music Group venue had its premises licence suspended by the council following the show by Afrobeats singer/songwriter Asake, which was abandoned following reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry. Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and 23-year-old Gaby Hutchinson both suffered fatal injuries in the incident, while a third person was left in a critical condition.

The authority has appointed former council chief Paul Martin to independently lead its investigation, and is also reviewing licensable activities at the 4,921-cap venue. A separate criminal investigation is also being carried out by the Metropolitan police to examine the events of the night and surrounding issues.

“We are very mindful of the profound impact this incident has had on many people who were present at the O2 Academy on that night and on the family and loved ones of the two people who tragically lost their lives that evening, and the person that remains in a critical condition,” says Lambeth Council CEO Bayo Dosunmu.

“We are acutely aware of our fundamental health and safety responsibility, and that this consideration overrides all others”

“In order that Lambeth Council rigorously and independently investigates what happened on that evening, I have asked one of London’s most experienced former chief executives to lead on the health and safety investigation on behalf of the council, working closely with the Metropolitan police. My commitment is to ensure that this is investigated thoroughly.”

Following an initial 28-day temporary closure of the Academy in the wake of the 15 December 2022 tragedy, Lambeth Council suspended the venue’s licence for an additional three months until 16 April 2023, leading a number of shows to be moved to other London venues.

“I appreciate that the O2 Academy Brixton is an iconic and much loved venue, and the impact of the current closure will be felt keenly by many people in Brixton and further afield,” adds Dosunmu. “However, we are acutely aware of our fundamental health and safety responsibility, and that this consideration overrides all others.

“We will provide updates on the situation as this develops.”

 


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O2 Academy Brixton to remain shut for three months

London’s O2 Academy Brixton will remain closed for a further three months as investigations continue into the deadly crowd surge at the venue that resulted in two people losing their lives.

The venue had its premises licence suspended by Lambeth Council last month following the 15 December show by Afrobeats singer/songwriter Asake, which was abandoned following reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry to the 4,921-cap venue.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and 23-year-old Gaby Hutchinson both suffered fatal injuries in the incident, while a third person was left in a critical condition.

The initial 28-day temporary closure of the venue applied until today (16 January), when Lambeth Council suspended its licence for an additional three months. The suspension will apply until 16 April.

The authority also imposed a condition requiring the venue to cease all licensable activities pending it submitting a variation application – and it granting that application.

“The families and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson have suffered an incredibly painful bereavement and other people have suffered serious injury in this incident,” says Cllr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s cabinet member for safer communities.

“I thank the sub-committee for their efforts today to ensure that we see no repeat of December’s shocking scenes. They have carefully considered all the issues and listened to all parties before coming to this considered and important decision.”

“It is now up to the O2 Academy Brixton to work with the authorities and come up with workable changes to their licence, to deal with these matters, and to make a variation application”

Cllr Hashi continues: “It is now up to the O2 Academy Brixton to work with the authorities and come up with workable changes to their licence, to deal with these matters, and to make a variation application. Lambeth Council will continue to support the Met Police’s separate investigation into the tragic events of December 15 and support those in our community who have been traumatised by the shocking scenes at one of our borough’s most famous venues.”

A separate criminal investigation is also being carried out by detectives to examine the events of the night and surrounding issues.

Venue operator Academy Music Group had already announced O2 Academy Brixton would remain shut for an additional three months prior to today’s council meeting. Wallows’ scheduled 18 January date at the venue has been switched to Eventim Apollo, with announcements pending on other shows.

“O2 Academy Brixton recognises the gravity of the events which occurred on the night of 15 December 2022 and expresses its sincere condolences to the families of those who died during the tragic incident and its genuine concerns for anyone affected by it,” says an AMG statement.

“[AMG] is committed to understanding what happened and co-operating with the various investigations that are under way including providing full cooperation to the police in the conduct of their inquiries.”

 


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O2 Academy Brixton licence suspended

London’s O2 Academy Brixton had its premises licence suspended following the crowd surge at the venue that resulted in two people losing their lives.

The temporary closure, imposed by Lambeth Council, will apply until 16 January when a full review will take place. It follows the 15 December show by Afrobeats singer/songwriter Asake, which was abandoned following reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry to the 4,921-cap venue.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, of Newham, passed away in hospital on 17 December, while 23-year-old Gaby Hutchinson, who was working as a contracted security provider for the event, died in the early hours of 19 December.

“A tragic incident has happened in our borough and we are dealing with its devastating impact on our communities”

“A tragic incident has happened in our borough and we are dealing with its devastating impact on our communities,” ays Cllr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s cabinet member for safer communities. “Our thoughts are with those who have suffered, especially the families and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who have tragically lost their lives.

“I wish to thank my colleagues on the sub-committee for their careful and rigorous work in looking at this issue at this first stage of the process. We will now continue with our work to reassure our communities about safety at the venue, get the answers needed about how this happened and support the Met police investigations into these tragic events.”

Lambeth Council’s licensing Sub-Committee took the decision at a meeting on Wednesday (21 December) after the Metropolitan Police submitted an application for a summary license review the previous day. Representatives of the venue and the police attended and made representations at the meeting.

A separate criminal investigation is also being carried out by detectives reviewing CCTV, phone footage, speaking to witnesses and carrying out forensic examinations.

Planned concerts at O2 Academy Brixton by 2ManyDJs (15 December), Pusha T (19 December) and DnB Allstars presents New Year’s Eve show (31 December) had already been postponed in the wake of the tragedy.

A social media post by venue operator Academy Music Group earlier in the week says it is “devastated by this tragic situation and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation”.

 


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Two people die after Brixton concert tragedy

Two people who were critically injured in the suspected crowd crush at O2 Academy Brixton have died, police have confirmed.

The show by Afrobeats singer/songwriter Asake last Thursday (15 December) was abandoned following reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry to the 4,921-cap venue. Emergency services attended and found a number of people with injuries believed to have been caused by crushing.

Mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, of Newham, London, passed away in hospital on Saturday (17 December), while 23-year-old Gaby Hutchinson, who was working as one of the contracted security providers for the event, died in the early hours of this morning. A 21-year-old woman remains in hospital in a critical condition.

Officers, who are reviewing CCTV, phone footage, speaking to witnesses and conducting forensic examinations, have established that the two women and one man were all in the foyer of the building. While the police cordons outside the venue have been removed, cordons remain in place inside the building while officers continue to examine the scene.

“I’d like to extend my sympathies to all those who have been affected,” says chief supt Colin Wingrove, policing commander for Lambeth and Southwark. “An urgent investigation is currently under way led by detectives from our specialist crime command. This is still a fast moving and evolving picture and we are working to establish the events that led up to the incident.”

Video footage circulated on social media shows a large crowd built up outside the venue and apparent clashes with police.

“We are determined, along with our partners, to do everything we can to establish exactly what happened”

“We are also aware of a vast amount of footage on social media and of course this will be examined as part of the investigation along with footage from officers’ body worn video cameras,” adds chief supt Wingrove. “We have set up an online page for the submission of photos and videos.

“There were around 4,000 potential witnesses present at the time of this incident and we want to urge any members of the public with information to come forward. We need your information as we try to establish what happened as quickly as we can.

“We are determined, along with our partners, to do everything we can to establish exactly what happened on Thursday night.”

Planned concerts at O2 Academy Brixton by 2ManyDJs (15 December), Pusha T (19 December) and DnB Allstars presents New Year’s Eve show (31 December) have all been postponed in the wake of the tragedy.

A social media post by the Academy Music Group venue says its “thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating news at this extremely difficult time”.

 


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Four critical after Brixton concert incident

Investigations are ongoing after four people were critically injured in an apparent crowd crush during a concert by Afrobeats singer Asake at O2 Academy Brixton.

Police were called to the 4,921-cap London venue at 9.35pm last night (15 December) following reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry to the venue. The concert – the third of three sold-out shows at the venue by the Nigerian artist – was curtailed as a result.

Officers, London Ambulance Service (LAS) and London Fire Brigade attended and found a number of people with injuries believed to have been caused by crushing. Eight people were taken by ambulance to hospital, four of whom remain in a critical condition, with LAS treating two other less seriously injured people at the scene.

No arrests have been made, but cordons remain in place.

“This is an extremely upsetting incident which has left four people critically ill in hospital”

“This is an extremely upsetting incident which has left four people critically ill in hospital,” says Met Police gold commander Ade Adelekan. “My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.

“A police investigation has been launched, and it will be as thorough and as forensic as necessary to establish exactly what happened last night. The scene will be examined by specialist officers, CCTV will be viewed, every witness that we can make contact with will be spoken to and all other lines of enquiry will be followed.

“Officers are remaining in the area to provide reassurance to the local community in and around Brixton. If you have any information or concerns, please speak with them.”

“My heart is with those who were injured last night and caused any form of discomfort”

Video footage has circulated on social media showing a large crowd built up outside the venue and apparent clashes with police.

“I am aware of video being shared on social media,” adds Adelekan. “I would ask people to be sensible about what they share, and not to post material that will be upsetting to those affected by this incident. Where force has been used by police officers, those officers know they have to be accountable for their actions.

“The Met’s directorate of professional standards will view all material, including body worn video footage from the officers at the scene. In relation to a clip being widely shared, I can confirm that no police dogs were deployed to the location.”

IQ has reached out to O2 Academy Brixton for comment.

In an Instagram post, Asake writes: “My heart is with those who were injured last night and caused any form of discomfort. I pray you get well soonest. I am also in the process of reaching out to individuals.

“I still do not have the full brief from the venue management themselves as to what led to the disruption at the entrance of the Brixton Academy, but we are thankful that all was peaceful at the end. For my people who enjoyed the beginning of my performance, I am sorry that it was cut short.”

 


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Memorial events planned for the late Steve Strange

A trio of events have been planned to commemorate the life of Steve Strange, the X-ray Touring director and co-founder, who passed away recently following a short illness.

The London event takes place at O2 Academy Brixton, and friends of Steve and colleagues who knew and worked with him are invited to email [email protected] to RSVP.

Dubbed ‘The Farewell Tour’, celebrations are also planned in Los Angeles on 17 November and Belfast on 19 December.

Born in Lisburn near Belfast, Strange worked with an eclectic roster of artists including Coldplay, Eminem, Queens of the Stone Age, Phoebe Bridgers, Ash, Snow Patrol, The Charlatans and Jimmy Eat World, many booked with longtime colleague Josh Javor.

The X-ray team remembered a “universally known, hugely respected and loved character”, as tributes poured in from across the industry upon Strange’s death aged 53 in September.

Strange was a longstanding ILMC member, and in March had picked up the top agent award (‘second least offensive agent’) in a special decade showdown at the Arthur Awards. Strange had topped the category twice before. He appeared in person to collect the gong at the Royal Albert Hall, thanking his clients, and “all the people at Team Strange and Xray Touring who’ve all had a very difficult year but we’re getting through it”.

IQ published a surprise feature article in May 2018, to celebrate Strange’s 50th birthday.

 


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