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02 Brixton Academy where Gravesend security guard Gaby Hutchinson died is allowed to reopen if conditions are met

The 02 Brixton Academy can reopen after councillors voted to restore its licence.

The south London music venue has been closed since a deadly crush on December 15 last year, which killed Gravesend security guard Gaby Hutchinson.

Gaby Hutchinson was working as a security guard on the night of the incident at the 02 Academy Brixton
Gaby Hutchinson was working as a security guard on the night of the incident at the 02 Academy Brixton

The 23-year-old was working as a dog handler on the night when fans tried to force entry into a show by Nigerian artist Asake.

Gaby died alongside concertgoer Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, while a 21-year-old woman was injured in the crush and remains in hospital in a critical condition.

The London venue faced permanent closure after the Metropolitan Police urged the council to remove its licence, having indicated it had no confidence in the company which owns the Academy to run it.

But following a two-day hearing, Lambeth Council’s licensing sub-committee has voted to allow it to continue operating – so long as it meets “77 extensive and robust new conditions”.

The company which owns the Brixton Academy, Academy Music Group (AMG), told the committee it had developed new safety measures in an effort to have its licence restored, including stronger doors, a better queuing system, and more secure ticketing.

AMG said changes to its operating policies had been developed by “leading professionals” to prevent a repeat of last year’s events.

The company, which has operated the venue for 20 years, has done “all in its power to analyse what went wrong”, the barrister representing AMG, Philip Kolvin, added.

The venue has spent £1.2 million on maintenance and improvements in 2023, despite being closed, he added.

The Metropolitan Police urged the council to remove the licence after “large-scale disorder” at the scene, with crowds of 1,000 people trying to force their way in.

When the doors were breached the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium and surged over people who had fallen to the floor.

Councillors previously suspended the venue’s licence for three months and the decision was supported by the venue’s owner.

Gerald Gouriet KC, representing the Met, said the force was not trying to shut down the venue, but believed AMG should no longer be the licensee.

02 Academy Brixton after the incident on December 15
02 Academy Brixton after the incident on December 15

A total of 165 security staff were used for the Asake show, the highest number the venue had ever used, the committee was told.

A police investigation was launched and the Security Industry Authority opened an inquiry into corruption allegations made after the crush.

Councillor Dr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth’s cabinet member for safer communities, said: “At the hearing, the council’s licensing officers asked that AMG’s initial proposals were greatly strengthened.

“This was accepted by the operator. In total, 77 conditions have been agreed by the sub-committee to allow re-opening.

“AMG will now need to put in place the agreed measures to enable the re-opening of this much-loved local venue, which is a key part of Brixton’s cultural heritage and has been enjoyed by millions.

“We will be working to closely monitor all licensing conditions to ensure that safety is at the forefront of the venue’s future operations.”

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