Police search house over Grenfell bonfire video
Five men arrested after footage appears online showing model of tower set on fire
A video posted on social media of a model of Grenfell Tower being burned over a fire.Photograph: PA
Detectives investigating a video of a model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire have searched a house in south London believed to be the home of one of the five men who handed themselves in to police on Monday night.
Three officers carried evidence bags into the terraced property and knocked on neighbours’ doors while the men were being questioned on suspicion of a public order offence.
The video showing people mocking the plight of Grenfell victims as the cardboard model burned drew condemnation from survivors of last year’s deadly blaze as well as the prime minister, Theresa May, and the chairman of the public inquiry into the disaster, Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
The model of Grenfell included paper figures of people at the flat windows. The video showed one person saying: “That little ninja’s getting it at the minute” – an apparent racist comment about a Muslim woman in a burka depicted on the side of the model. Another person said: “That’s what happens when you don’t pay your rent.”
The stunt is thought to have been filmed at the weekend. Evidence of a fire could be seen in the back garden of the house that was searched, according to the Press Association, and an England flag was also visible. A similar flag could be seen behind the Grenfell model in the video.
It is understood that all five men were being questioned at Croydon custody centre.
The grandfather of one 19-year old man believed to have handed himself in, told MailOnline: “It’s an appalling thing to do given the tragic loss of life. It’s in dreadfully bad taste and utterly shocking and I don’t condone it at all. I don’t know what they were thinking. What were they doing?”
The video is believed to have been circulated originally in closed WhatsApp groups before being posted to social media and shared widely on Twitter and Facebook, at which point it was reported to the police.
In the footage, bystanders could be heard mockingly saying: “Help me, help me!” and “Jump out the window!” To laughter, one person said: “Stay in your flat, we are coming to get you” – an apparent reference to the stay-put policy that may have cost lives in the fire on June 14th, 2017.
Survivors of the blaze described the burning of the cardboard model as a “sickening act of hate” and urged the police to investigate it as a potential hate crime. Public order offences can include crimes of racial and religious hatred.
A spokesperson for the campaign group Justice4Grenfell said the video had “caused great alarm and distress”, and added: “We are disgusted and shocked at the inhumanity and callousness of those involved in this video.”
Mrs May tweeted on Monday: “To disrespect those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower, as well as their families and loved ones, is utterly unacceptable.” – Guardian