Brixton O2 Academy has licence suspended for three months after fatal crowd crush left two dead

The O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)
The O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)

Brixton’s O2 Academy has had its licence suspended for three months after a fatal crowd crush killed two people.

Lambeth councillors voted on Monday afternoon to suspend the venue’s licence after the deaths of security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and concert-goer Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, at an Asake gig in December.

They were both fatally hurt when fans without tickets tried to enter the show on December 15.

Police had applied for a summary review of the venue’s licence, telling councillors it believed the venue was associated with “serious crime and serious disorder” in the wake of the crush.

The O2’s owner had earlier said it would shut for three months in any event while officers carried out their investigations into the circumstances of the fatal incident.

Announcing the decision on Monday afternoon, Cllr Fred Cowell said: “Both the police and the licence holder have expressed the view that the ongoing investigations are at too early a stage to clearly identify the cause or causes of the fatal incident on the 15th December 2022 and the extent of any remedial steps required to prevent any repetition of a serious incident.

“As a consequence the licensing sub-committee is not presently satisfied that the venue can reopen at this stage without undermining the licensing objectives.”

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following a crowd crush outside an Asake concert at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)
Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following a crowd crush outside an Asake concert at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)

In addition, a condition will be added to the venue’s licence that any licensable activity cannot take place and until steps have been taken to address lessons learned from the crush.

Academy Music Group (AMG), which owns the O2, said last week that it had “reflected deeply” on the incident, and its Brixton venue would remain closed regardless of the licensing decision.

In an earlier statement, it said: “O2 Academy Brixton recognises the gravity of the events which occurred on the night of December 15 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.

“The licence holder, Academy Music Group, is committed to understanding what happened and co-operating with the various investigations that are under way, including providing full co-operation to the police in the conduct of their inquiries.

“AMG has reflected deeply and has come to its own decision to close the premises for three months while the investigations take place and, at the same time, to work in partnership with the responsible authorities, which will include a review of the licence conditions and proposed amendments.

“The company’s decision to close for this period will be the case whether or not the licence is suspended but AMG agrees to the suspension as an enforceable measure.”

Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi welcomed the decision and said: “Venues like the Brixton 02 make a huge cultural and economic contribution to our area, and nobody wants to lose that.

“However, public safety is paramount, and the gravity of December's incident must be recognised. I look forward to maintaining dialogue with all parties on the way forward as this situation evolves.”

An appeal for the young sons of one of the victims, Rebecca Ikumelo, from Newham, has raised nearly £50,000 in donations.

A Gofundme appeal launched by her family to raise money to support her sons has now reached more than £46,000 in donations.