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Brixton Academy licence suspended for three more months, as allegations made about fake tickets operation at the venue

By | Published on Tuesday 17 January 2023

Brixton Academy

London’s Lambeth Council has suspended the licence of the Brixton Academy for at least three more months following the fatal crowd crush that occurred at the venue last month. Operator the Academy Music Group had already announced its intent to keep the venue closed for that time period.

The crowd crush occurred during a sell-out show by Asake on 15 Dec. The incident resulted in the deaths of concert goer Rebecca Ikumelo and security contractor Gaby Hutchinson. A third person injured in the crush remains critically ill in hospital.

Lambeth Council’s licensing subcommittee initially suspended the Academy’s licence for a month shortly after the incident. They then met again yesterday to further to discuss the crowd crush and the investigations that are now under way into what caused the incident on 15 Dec.

According to the BBC, a legal representative for London’s Metropolitan Police told councillors that the police force’s investigation is ongoing, but is proving challenging because it has involved reviewing statements from hundreds of witnesses, a large number of social media posts and footage from more than 40 CCTV cameras around the venue.

That rep added that it’s not possible to conclude what should happen to the Brixton Academy’s licence until the police’s investigation has progressed further. They concluded: “Until we know what happened, we can’t say what needs to be done differently. The answers won’t be known for some time”.

It was expected that police would request for the licence suspension to be extended at yesterday’s meeting, and – as noted – the Academy Music Group had basically already voluntarily complied with that request before the councillors met. The licensing subcommittee confirmed that the Brixton Academy’s licence will remain suspended until at least 16 Apr.

At the time of the crowd crush, it was reported that problems began when people without tickets for the sell-out show tried to force their way into the venue. However, there have been allegations that other factors likely contributed to the incident.

One security guard who worked at the venue has told the BBC that certain members of the security team at the Brixton Academy would allow people without tickets into shows in return for payment.

The anonymous whistleblower claims in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s ‘File On 4’ that some members of his team would allow “a couple of hundred” extra people into the venue in exchange for money, adding “there were people taking money… some staff made £1000 cash”.

The whistleblower works for AP Security, which declined to provide a comment for the BBC report. But, that security guard alleges: “Our company knew what was going on and they knew the people who were doing it and they did nothing about it”.

He also tells the BBC that the Asake show on 15 Dec was understaffed, with a total security team of 110 when there should have been 190 people on hand to manage the crowd at the concert.

The ‘File On 4’ report also hears from a man who says he got access to a Fred Again show at the Brixton Academy a week before the crowd crush after buying what turned out to be fake tickets via security guards at the venue.

He says that he asked staff on the door at Brixton Academy where he could buy tickets to the Fred Again show. They directed him to a tout across the street who took some money and then sent tickets to the buyer via WhatsApp, telling him to show those tickets to a specific security guard at the venue’s entrance.

“As soon as we got there”, the man explains, “our tickets got scanned really, really, fast – I would say fake scanned – and the person just let us in. The person had the device that scans tickets and just used the flashlight on it, not the laser scan. It felt really organised and it felt that we weren’t the only people that got in that way”.

Although AP Security declined to comment for the ‘File On 4’ report, its Director Of Operational Management, James Hooker, did issue a statement shortly after last month’s incident.

He said: “We are working with our lawyers, the operators of the premises and the authorities to provide all information that is needed. We will continue to work with all parties and are unable to provide any information at this time while those inquiries are completed”.

The ‘File On 4’ report on the Brixton Academy crowd crush will air this evening at 8pm on Radio 4.