In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s File on Four, the security guard speaking out revealed that guards would often let “a couple of hundred” extra people into concerts in exchange for cash.
“There were people taking money… Some staff made £1,000 cash,” said the guard, who stayed anonymous. He was part of the team working on the front doors on the night of December 15, 2022, when crowds to see Afro-pop star Asake led to a fatal crush.
“Our company knew what was going on and they knew the people who were doing it and they did nothing about it,” the source claimed.
Of the tragic night, he said: “It was like being in a car crash that’s been really awful — being crashed on and stamped on.”
Rebecca Ikumelo, a 33-year-old mother of two, was caught in the crush and later died of her injuries. Gaby Hutchinson was a security guard working at the venue and also died. There is no suggestion Hutchinson was involved in taking bribes or letting people in without tickets.
Speaking about how the bribing unfolded, the whistleblower said: “When you let a few people in, they would text their friends, and they’ll text their friends. And the bouncers started being greedy, and it got out of hand. And people wanted to come in anyway, without a ticket. You can train someone to the max, but when that happens in front of you, you actually stop… you freeze.
“They [some AP Security staff] will tell you a few things, [then you] go round the corner… give them a lot of cash and they will walk you straight in the front door.” He alleges that AP, as employers, knew what was going on as he had been in meetings where people had complained about two particular individuals to them.
The whistleblower said he had worked at other London venues as a security guard and bribing was commonplace.
Yesterday, Lambeth Council agreed to extend the suspension of the O2 Brixton Academy’s licence for a further three months, until April 16.
In a recent statement AMG, which owns the venue, said: “O2 Academy Brixton recognises the gravity of the events which occurred on the night of 15 December 2022 and expresses its sincere condolences to the families of those who died during the tragic incident and its genuine concerns for anyone affected by it.”
The Times reached out to AP Security for comment on the allegations but had not yet heard back.
Speaking on the day after the crush in December, James Hookier, AP Security’s director of operational management, 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.”