In January 1981, the New Cross fire claimed the lives of 13 African British youths aged between 14 and 22 after flames engulfed a birthday party in South-East London.
The original inquests returned open verdicts but after the police began a new investigation in 1997 a new inquest was ordered in 2002. Tragically the families and our community were again let down by the criminal ‘justice system’ when earlier this month Gerald Butler QC, recorded open verdicts at Southwark Crown Court.
‘I have concluded on the totality of the evidence that while I think it probable, that is to say more likely than not, that this fire was begun by deliberate application of a flame to the armchair near to the television...I cannot be sure of this… It must follow I am unable to return a verdict of unlawful killing’.
Commander Steve Allen, Head of the Metropolitan Police's Racial and Violent Crime taskforce which carried out the investigation, said the inquiry would never be regarded as ‘closed’.