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Culture minister confirms government monitoring investigations into Brixton Academy crowd crush

By | Published on Monday 13 March 2023

Brixton Academy

UK culture minister Julia Lopez last week told Parliament that she is monitoring the various investigations into the fatal crowd crush that occurred at a Brixton Academy show last December, and will review whether they raise any issues that the government should consider.

Two people died as a result of the crowd crush, which happened during a sell out show by Asake. The venue has been closed ever since, with the local council suspending its licence while London’s Metropolitan Police undertake an investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident.

At the time it was stated that the crowd crush began when people without tickets tried to force their way into the building. Although there have since been allegations that there was insufficient staffing at the show and that some security personnel were involved in a fake ticketing scam that would have increased the number of people in the venue.

The incident was raised in Parliament last week by South London MP Florence Eshalomi. Addressing recently appointed Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, the MP said: “I am sure that the Secretary Of State will be aware of the tragic crush during the O2 Brixton Academy concert on 15 Dec. Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson sadly lost their lives, and I am sure that the whole House will join me in passing on our condolences to their families”.

“Three separate investigations have been launched into the criminal, licensing and security aspects”, she went on, “but there is no single authority looking at what happened. I have written to the Secretary Of State and her predecessor. Will she meet me to discuss the government’s role in getting full answers for the victims’ families and ensuring the safety of similar venues nationally?”

Responding on behalf of Frazer and the government’s culture department, Julia Lopez – Minister for Media, Tourism And Creative Industries – said: “I thank the honourable lady for her question. What happened in her constituency was an absolute tragedy and I pass my condolences on to the people affected. We have received her letter, and I am terribly sorry that it has not yet received a response. I was made aware of that only last week”.

“I am asking for this to be looked into”, she added, “because I appreciate that she has highlighted things that she sees as gaps in the system. But, as she knows, the Met is also investigating this. I will look very carefully to see whether they highlight issues that the government themselves need to consider”.

Police have previously described their investigation into the crowd crush as “a vast and complicated process”. With that in mind, the coroner overseeing the inquests into the deaths of Ikumelo and Hutchinson said in January: “It seems to me that if this is a complex criminal investigation, this matter is going to take some years”.