Investigation into corruption allegations launched after crowd crushed at O2 Academy Brixton

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is launching an investigation into allegations of corruption made after the crowd that killed two at the O2 Academy Brixton last month crushed.

Security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were fatally injured while trying to enter Nigerian artist Asake’s performance without a ticket at a resort in south London on December 15.

A police investigation was launched into the incident, and on Monday, the venue’s license was suspended for three months as the investigation continued.

Paul Fullwood, SIA’s director of inspection and enforcement, said Wednesday that the body had assisted Metropolitan Police in their investigation into the tragedy.

Brixton O2 Academy incident

23-year-old security guard Gaby Hutchinson fatally injured when fans without tickets tried to enter (Met Police/PA)

He said he saw media reports following the broadcast of an episode of BBC File On 4: Catastrophe At The Academy that alleged that security personnel at the scene had taken bribes.

Fullwood said: “As the regulator of the private security sector in the UK, we take allegations of corruption by security officials very seriously.

“Today we launched an investigation into these allegations that appear to go beyond Brixton O2 Academy.

“We will also review licensing regulations and take appropriate action against any person or company that engages in such practices as part of our regulatory licensing responsibility in the private security industry.”

File On 4 reported that a security guard at the venue told the program that some members of the security staff would allow “several hundred” people into the venue in exchange for money.

“There were people who got paid… Some staff got £1,000 in cash,” he told the programme.

“Our company knew what was going on and they knew the people who did it,” he added, “and they didn’t do anything about it.”

The decision to suspend the venue’s license for three months was made by Lambeth Council’s licensing subcommittee. The decision was also supported by the owner of the venue, Academy Music Group (AMG), which offered its condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the incident.

Brixton O2 Academy incident

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, was also fatally injured during the incident (Family statement)

Gerald Gouriet KC, representing the Met Police, told the subcommittee that the exact extent of the injuries caused by the crush is still unknown.

“It started at 8 PM, so I understand that at 9 PM a large crowd of about 1,000 people had formed outside the entrance to the building and seemed to be entering the building,” he said.

“The officials in the venue closed the entrance doors and called the police for support. And we have a schedule for this call, 9.04. The police arrived at 21:16.

“When they arrived, they were met with a great commotion, the crowd tried to push open the doors, and they finally did.

“When the doors were smashed, the crowd rushed into the lobby towards the auditorium.

“Some of them fell to the ground. As the crowd climbed over the fallen, many – we don’t know the total number yet, and this will be learned as the investigation progresses – were injured.

He added that in addition to the two people who died in the hospital after the incident, the condition of a third person was critical.

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