Some security staff at London's Brixton Academy take bribes to let gig-goers in without tickets, whistleblower claims

Brixton Academy
Photo agency shot of London's O2 Academy Brixton, 2021 (Image credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage))

EDIT: The Academy Music Group, who run Brixton Academy, have stated that there were 157 contracted security at the venue that night.

A security guard who works for the company who provide security at London's O2 Academy Brixton has told BBC Radio 4's File On 4 that colleagues allow "a couple of hundred" extra people into gigs in exchange for cash bribes.

In a programme titled Catastrophe at the Academy, scheduled for broadcast at 8pm tonight (January 17) on Radio 4, the anonymous whistleblower claims that members of the security team can pocket up to £1000 per night in bribes, and that AP Security, the firm he works for, are aware of this, and chose not to address the matter.

"Our company knew what was going on and they knew the people who were doing it," the guard, referred to as 'Rohan', told Radio 4, "and they did nothing about it."

The Radio 4 documentary comes in the wake of two deaths at the venue in December: a crowd crush at a December 15 gig by Afrobeats singer Asake claimed the lives of gig-goer Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and Gaby Hutchinson, 23, who worked as a dog handler at the event.

Lambeth council has now suspended the venue's license for three months, at the request of the Metropolitan police, who are investigating the incident.

The BBC's informant, 'Rohan' was working on the front doors when the fatal crush occurred.

He claims that there was not enough security on duty on the night in question, with 110 members of the security team in attendance, when there should have been 190.

'Rohan' tells the BBC that some guards working for AP Security have been allowing fans in to gigs without tickets.

He explains: "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."

Rohan also says that security staff taking bribes does just happen at Brixton Academy, but also at a number of venues, stadiums and festivals at which he has worked in the past.

Catastrophe at the Academy will be aired on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm tonight (January 17).

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.