More than 100,000 sign petition to ‘save’ Brixton O2 Academy

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)

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition for the Brixton O2 to stay open after a deadly crush which killed two people and left a third critically injured.

Scotland Yard has called for the music venue to lose its licence to operate over the fatal crush at an Asake gig in December, saying it has lost confidence in the operator, Academy Music Group.

In a witness statement sent to Lambeth Council last week, Met PC Jinelle Caldinez claimed the force has “repeatedly” asked for assistance “in the identification of ‘what went wrong’ and how it is to be prevented from going wrong again.”

She said the Met had written to the operator’s lawyers in March but that it has “resisted engaging with that request.” The operator said the police’s statement “does not reflect” the work it has taken after the crush.

Officers raised concerns about the operator’s analysis of what went wrong before the tragedy, saying it appeared to believe the crush was solely caused by large numbers of people trying to gain entry to the gig.

“AMG appears to regard ‘the incident’ simply as the gathering of the crowd outside the entrance to the Academy and the ‘uncontrolled manner’ of their entry,” said PC Caldinez.

“What happened inside, however, is as much a part of the incident as what happened outside, if not more so: the fatalities occurred in the foyer.”

Councillors have also been told that police are “concerned” that the venue denied knowing about issues with the structural integrity of the venue’s doors in February 2020, until it was presented with evidence.

Part of the document, sent in support of revoking the venue’s licence, is redacted because of an ongoing criminal investigation.

An AMG spokesperson said AMG it was “devastated by what happened and the impact on the families and friends of the victims.”

“We have engaged collaboratively with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council over the last 5 months, presenting detailed proposals we believe will enable the venue to reopen,” the spokesperson said.

“The Met’s submission to review the Academy’s license, which remains separate to its ongoing investigation, does not reflect the work we are doing to address issues of concern, or our commitment to work in partnership with all parties.

“We will continue to engage in the formal process overseen by Lambeth Council.”

A date has yet to be listed for a hearing which will decide the venue’s future.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which lobbies for the live music sector, has thrown its weight behind a petition for the venue to stay open, saying it is “hugely important to the cultural economy of London”.

The venue has submitted a variation application to change the terms of its licence in a bid to stay open.

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