Fate of Brixton O2 Academy to be decided next month after crowd crush

Two people died after crowds rushed the door at an Asake gig at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)
Two people died after crowds rushed the door at an Asake gig at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)

The fate of the Brixton O2 Academy is expected to be decided next month after a fatal crowd crush killed two people and left another seriously injured.

The Metropolitan Police called for the venue to be stripped of its licence after a crush at an Asake gig in December claimed the lives of Gabrielle Hutchinson, 23, a security worker, and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33.

Eight months on from the incident, a 21-year-old woman who was seriously injured remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Scotland Yard said it had “lost confidence” in Academy Music Group in the wake of the tragedy, with the case set to be before Lambeth councillors on September 11 and 12.

The operator has said it has cooperated fully with the Met and Lambeth Council to present “detailed proposals” that it believes would “enable the venue to reopen safely.”

The venue was required to cease all licensable activities in January, pending a decision on its future.

Councillors will have to decide whether to allow the venue to stay open under changed terms or to strip it of its licence.

Cllr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said: “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.

“We are determined to use the powers we have available to us to make sure the lessons of this tragedy are learnt, and that we never see a traumatic incident like this again in Lambeth.”

The Night Time Industries Association, which is campaigning for the venue to be allowed to reopen, said it was a “critical moment” for the Brixton O2.

The crush occurred on December 15, when concertgoers - many of them thought to be ticketless - tried to force their way into the sold-out gig.

Scotland Yard has since launched a criminal investigation involving a range of potential allegations including corporate manslaughter, criminal negligence manslaughter, unlawful act manslaughter and health and safety at work offences along with violent disorder and assault.

At his first London show at the Greenwich O2 since the tragedy at Brixton, Afrobeats singer Asake last week paid tribute to the two people who lost their lives with a two-and-a-half minute video.