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O2 Academy Brixton has licence suspended after two killed in Asake crush

Brixton Academy will now remain closed until January 16 at the earliest.

By Nick Reilly

(Picture: Alamy)

O2 Academy Brixton has had its license suspended after a crowd crush at an Asake gig last week resulted in two people losing their lives.

23-year-old security contractor Gabrielle Hutchinson and 33-year-old mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo both died as a result of their injuries when a crowd forced their way into the show by the Nigerian Afrobeats artist last week. It led to mass overcrowding and the show being cancelled half way through. A third attendee, aged 21, still remains in hospital in a critical condition.

At a licensing review today, it emerged that concerns were raised about the strength of the front doors to hold back crowds nearly three years before the fatal incident.

The south London venue’s license has now been suspended until January, with Lambeth councillors taking the ‘interim decision’ to suspend the license following the ‘severity of events’ and ‘risks to public safety’ from ‘a lack of crowd control at the front doors’. A full hearing will take place on 16 January.

It means that a string of shows set to take place in the weeks up to January 16 will now be postponed.

At the council meeting, the Metropolitan Police said a similar crush had occurred in February 2020 during a concert by Naira Marley, another Afrobeats singer. That initial incident raised concerns about the strengths of the venue’s doors.

Lambeth Councillors previously said in an open letter: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson who lost their lives, as well as with those who remain in hospital and those suffering the trauma of witnessing such distressing scenes at one of our borough’s live music venues.

“The venue is currently closed and we are set to undertake an urgent, in-depth review of its licence, which covers the legal conditions it must meet to run, including its public safety arrangements. This follows the Met Police submitting an application for a ‘Summary License Review’ on Tuesday.

As part of their investigation, the police have also set up an online portal for people to submit information, images or footage. It is thought that 4,000 witnesses were present at the time of the incident.

Responding to the incident, Asake previously said: “I am overwhelmed with grief and could never have imagined anything like this happening,”.

The crush incident has also been referred to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which said it was assessing footage.