O2 Academy Brixton has licence suspended for three months after deadly crush

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

The decision was made by Lambeth council’s licensing sub-committee on Monday after security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were fatally hurt when ticketless fans tried to enter an Asake gig on December 15.

Chairman of the sub-committee, councillor Fred Cowell, said: “The decision of the licensing sub-committee is that the premises licence is suspended for a period of three months from today, expiring at one minute past midnight on April 16 2023.

Brixton O2 Academy incident
Gaby Hutchinson, 23, died after a crowd crush at the O2 Brixton Academy (PA)

He added: “No licensable activities shall take place at the premises unless and until an application to vary the premises licence has been made by the premises’ licence holder.”

The meeting was called after an application by the Metropolitan Police.

Gerald Gouriet KC, representing the force, said the full extent of the injuries caused by the crush is still unknown.

“It started at 8pm, so I understand by 9pm a large crowd of about 1,000 people had formed outside the entrance to the premises, to all intents giving the appearance of entering the building,” he said.

“Staff at the venue closed the entrance doors and called the police for support. And we have a timing for that call, it’s 9.04pm. The police arrived at 9.16pm.

“When they arrived, they found large-scale disorder, the crowd pushing against the doors, trying to force them open, which they eventually did.

“And when the doors were breached, the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium.

“A number of them fell to the floor. Several – we don’t yet know the total number and that will be found out as the inquiry proceeds – were injured as the crowd surged on and over those who had fallen.”

Brixton O2 Academy incident
Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, was also fatally hurt during the crush (PA)

Four people were taken to hospital, Mr Gouriet said.

“Tragically, as we know, two of them died as a result of their injuries,” he said.

“A third remains critically ill and the fourth has been, thankfully, discharged.”

Mr Gouriet applied for the venue to have its licence suspended for three months, for that suspension to include the initial 21-day appeal period, and for no licensed activities to take place there until it has had an application to vary its licence granted by the licensing sub-committee.

Stephen Walsh KC, representing the O2 Academy’s owner, Academy Music Group (AMG), said his client agreed to the suspension terms as set out by the police.

“But can I make it clear that AMG agrees to the suspension, as suggested by Mr Gouriet, also to the continuance of the interim steps, that is the shorter suspension to cover the appeal period, and also to the single condition, which Mr Gouriet read out to you a few moments ago. So there is full agreement about that.”

He also offered sympathies on behalf of the venue to those impacted by the tragedy.

“The 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 that tragic incident and its genuine concerns for anyone affected by it,” he said.

Reacting to the decision, Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi said public safety is “paramount”.

“Venues like the Brixton O2 make a huge cultural and economic contribution to our area, and nobody wants to lose that,” she said.

“However, public safety is paramount, and the gravity of December’s incident must be recognised.”