Security guards working at a music venue where two died in a horror crowd crush would regularly accept bribes to allow people in without tickets, it was claimed today.
One AP Security employee working on the night of the fatal crush told the BBC that members of his team at Brixton Academy, in south London, would often allow hundreds of extra revellers into venues in exchange for cash.
The whistleblower guard, who did not use his real name, alleges some staff made as much as £1,000 and that the security firm ‘knew the people who were doing it’.
AP Security has been contacted for comment.
It comes after Lambeth Council suspended the venue’s licence for three months in the wake of the tragedy in December after the Met launched an urgent inquiry.
Security guards working at the O2 Academy Brixton would regularly accept bribes to allow people in without tickets, it was alleged today
Rebecca Ikumelo (pictured), 33, from Newham, east London, died in hospital after being critically injured in the crush during afrobeat star Asake’s concert last month
The security member, who used the alias Rohan when speaking to the BBC, described a scene of chaos on the evening that Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, were fatally crushed when ticketless fans tried to charge into the Asake gig on December 15.
There is no suggestion that Ms Hutchinson, who was working as a security guard on the night, took bribes or let anyone in without valid tickets.
Rohan claims there were just 110 members of security in attendance that night, when they should have had 190.
‘It was like being in a car crash that’s been really awful – being crashed on and stamped on,’ he said.
Gerald Gouriet KC, representing the Met Police, said the full extent of the injuries caused by the crush is still unknown.
‘It started at 8pm, so I understand by 9pm a large crowd of about 1,000 people had formed outside the entrance to the premises, to all intents giving the appearance of entering the building,’ he said.
‘Staff at the venue closed the entrance doors and called the police for support. And we have a timing for that call, it’s 9.04pm. The police arrived at 9.16pm.
‘When they arrived, they found large-scale disorder, the crowd pushing against the doors, trying to force them open, which they eventually did.
‘And when the doors were breached, the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium.
‘A number of them fell to the floor. Several – we don’t yet know the total number and that will be found out as the inquiry proceeds – were injured as the crowd surged on and over those who had fallen.’
Rohan claims there were just 110 members of security in attendance at O2 Academy Brixton that night, when in reality they should have had 190. Pictured: The aftermath of the crush
Video footage shows a large crowd gathered outside the Brixton O2 Academy in December
He detailed how some guards allegedly allowed some ticketless music fans to enter the venue, who in turn contacted their friends, which exacerbated the disarray on the doors.
Someone wanting to enter the gig without a ticket would need to speak to security staff near barriers controlling queues, Rohan said, before they would be led around the corner and told to hand over the cash.
They would then be whisked to the front of the queue and accompanied by the guard through the front door, Rohan claims.
Rebecca Ikumelo (pictured), 33, from Newham, east London, died in hospital after being critically injured in the crush which unfolded during Asake’s concert
‘When you let a few people in, they would text their friends, and they’ll text their friends,’ he said.
‘And the bouncers started being greedy, and it got out of hand. And people wanted to come in anyway, without a ticket.’
AP Security, which has been working at the venue since 2004, were said to have been made aware of at least two bouncers who had accepted bribes. AP Security was contacted for comment.
The subject of cash bribes – which were reportedly being accepted at venues, stadiums and festivals across the country – had also been brought up in briefings and in conversations between employees, Rohan claims.
Afrobeats singer Asake said earlier last month that he was ‘praying’ for fans.
The Nigerian rising star had ominously warned fans not to attend if they had not purchased a valid ticket on the day of the fatal incident.
It was the final of three sell-out shows the Nigerian singer, who had the break-out hit Lady in 2020, had performed at the Brixton music venue, which has a standing capacity of 5,000 people.
The singer and songwriter, 27, wrote on Instagram following the crush: ‘My heart is with those who were injured last night and caused any form of discomfort. I pray you get well soonest. I am also in the process of reaching out to individuals.’
The Met Police said specialist officers have been providing support to the family of Rebecca Ikumelo.
She leaves behind two sons, Jamael and Joelle. The single mother worked as a nursing associate in sexual health until her older child was diagnosed with autism in 2020.
The 33-year-old had 13.4k followers on TikTok and 1.15k on YouTube and used her platform to raise awareness about autism.
Gaby Hutchinson was seriously injured after being crushed while working as a security guard at the venue on December 15 and sadly died in hospital on Monday morning, December 19.
Hutchinson’s partner, Phoebie Turley, posted a picture of the couple in a social media post that said: ‘My absolute world. I love you with my entire heart and soul’.