COME TO ClimateKeys GALA LAUNCH CONCERT!
25TH OCTOBER 2017 AT 7PM
Markson Pianos Concert Series
St Mary Magdalene Church, London NW1 3PH
Featuring ten concert pianists
Guest Speaker: Sir Jonathon Porritt
Special Guests: Zane Gbangbola's parents - TruthAboutZane
Tickets: £8/£4 On the door
Ticket includes wine served after the performance
The Environment Agency has suggested an old landfill linked to a seven-year-old boy’s death during flooding could be toxic.
Sixty households beside the historic waste site in Surrey, which has been at the centre of a bitter three-year legal battle surrounding Zane Gbangbola’s death, have been sent a letter warning them not “restrict airflow” in their homes.
It contradicts repeated denials, by a string of public authorities, that the site is hazardous or even exists.
It raises deeply troubling questions over the 1,655 historic landfills across the UK thought to contain dangerous materials.
Father Kye Gbangbola said: “This is a backdoor means of informing the public there is a risk but without accepting responsibility for what happened to Zane.”
Zane suffered a cardiac arrest in the family's Chertsey home beside the River Thames, on Saturday, 8 February, 2014, during flooding which deluged the South East.
Last September a coroner ruled he died from carbon monoxide toxicity after inhaling fumes from the family’s petrol pump hired to drive flood water out from their basement.
But his parents consistently argue – backed up by an impressive level of scientific and medical records – that he was killed by hydrogen cyanide (HCN) fumes carried by flood water from the neighbouring historic Lavenders landfill at Abbeyfields Park.
Over Christmas, Surrey council sent letters to the 60 homes, which are all within 250 metres the Chertsey site at Abbeyfields, also known as Lavenders, telling them never to use self-sealing airbricks.
The airbricks, which can trap harmful gasses inside a home, were given out as part of the 2014 ‘repair and renewal grant’ for flood-affected households.
According to a Freedom of Information Act request, £46,000 was wasted on the the bricks and replacement will cost an extra £31,000.
The council said the bricks were unsuitable because the EA told it they “restrict airflow” and because it is important to “maintain a ventilated subfloor”.
The EA gave out the advice in June and a spokesman said the issue emerged in Spring 2015.
Fiona Dent, a Labour party Surrey county councillor candidate for the 2017 local elections, whose nearby Egham home was flooded that winter, questioned why this was not raised at Zane’s inquest.
“It begs the questions: why are they sending out this letter and is it because of the potential of poison gas all the way along the Thames?” said Ms Dent.
“There are so many factors that just don't add up in the handling of both Zane’s case and in the handling of this safety advice, that I have to ask myself: what information is being kept back from the general public and why?
“Both the Environment Agency and Surrey County Council definitely have more questions to answer about the safety of people living on floodplains near landfill.”
Environmental consultant of 25 years Paul Mobbs said: “The letter is saying the obvious; that if you live near any site that has the potential for gassing, you can’t create any pockets for it to build up to a toxic level.”
Mr Mobbs said there is no telling how “dangerous” the site is because no one has yet properly tested the soil.
“There is one simple way. You put a big auger in the soil about two to three metres down – you don’t just test the lake water – and send it to the laboratory,” said Mr Mobbs.
“They’ve never done it because I think they know what they’ll find.”
Workers were also pictured last November, in full protective gear, dismantling a bund over a nine-day period that had been built illegally on the site.
Mr Mobbs’ believes that if government claims the land is dangerous, the landowner Brett will either sue or abandon the plot, leaving a remediation bill he estimates at between £60m and £100m.
According to calculations by Dr Daren Gooddy of the British Geological Society (BGS), there are 21,027 historic landfills that date between 1890 and 1990.
An estimated 1,655 contain dangerous materials such as hazardous chemicals and asbestos, 1,264 are by the coast at risk of erosion, and an extra 2,964 are on flood plains.
“There are literally thousands of historic sites,” said environmental geochemist Kate Spencer, from the Queen Mary University of London, whose 2016 report said there was “serious” potential for contamination from the old coastal sites.
“There are too many sites to remediate all of them and many pose no immediate risk, therefore we need to develop a strategy to prioritise those that present the greatest risk so that we can focus remediation efforts.
“We need more information to understand the potential risks to human health of re-exposing solid waste to the environment that has been previously buried.”
An EA spokesman said the Christmas letters were given out because of planning regulations by local authority Spelthorne Borough Council and denied any suggestion the site was toxic.
It also said the lake on the site posed no health risks and that there were no danger to other homes.
“The old landfill site in Chertsey known as Lavenders is currently a lake. The lake shows no environmental signs for concern. It is home to a healthy fish population. It has been tested and the results shared with the coroner. This is covered in his verdict,” he said.
The spokesman admitted the soil on the site, surrounding the lake, has never been tested because the EA was not told to do so by the coroner.
“If you have HAZMAT, fire crews and Public Health England saying there is a detection of hydrogen cyanide at our house, a weapon of mass destruction, to not test the landfill is extraordinary and an affront to the rule of law,” said Zane's mother, Ms Lawler.
“Recently we have seen Hillsborough criminal charges and the Grenfell Tower tragedy with authorities allegidly doing and saying whatever necessary to protect reputations and misdirect the wider public that those victims complaining of injustice are not worthy of being listened to.”
"We are consumed with the pain of deep sorrow from the death of our precious Zane, still traumatised and literally paralysed from the catastrophic events of that fateful night but we will never allow the truth to be buried, we will continue to fight for the truth, as the truth always comes out in the end."
A Spelthorne council spokesman refused to answer questions, and repeatedly referred (the Mail on Sunday) to the coroner’s ruling which it said addressed “inaccurate press coverage”.
Regarding the letter, the spokesman said: “We are aware that the EA were planning to replace some airbricks which had been fitted to properties at risk of flooding because of their proximity to landfill.
“We have not as yet been able to establish that this was related to any planning regulations.”
Brett failed to respond.
Zane's parents have co-signed the Hillsborough Bill, introduced to parliament last month by the Labour Party's former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, and the Green Party along with many others are campaigning for the family to be granted an independent panel inquiry into their case.
With thanks to Peter Walker
sThe Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed that it has charged six people (four South Yorkshire Police Officers, a solicitor and a Sheffield Wednesday safety officer) with individual charges of manslaughter, misconduct in public office, perverting the course of justice and contravening terms of health and safety conditions, over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 men, women and children were unlawfully killed and the alleged ensuing cover-up. But how much longer will the families have to wait for justice?
Margaret Aspinall, chairman of Hillsborough Family Support Group said relatives had suffered “hell on Earth” in pursuit of the truth.
Zane’s parents Kye and Nicole have met a number of times with Margaret and some of the Hillsborough families over the past two years as they tirelessly pursue Transparency, Accountability, Truth and Justice over the death of their precious son. The Hillsborough families said that for them, they never walk alone but recognised that for Zane’s parents, this is not the case. The Hillsborough families have walked with uncompromising determination, dignity and strength throughout their unbearable grief. This legal process is far from over but is another step forward for Truth and Justice and they can now walk on with hope in their hearts.
Kye and Nicole send them all their love, solidarity and support now and always.
Let Hillsborough lead the way now and help open the door to justice for Zane’s parents so they do not have to suffer the legal nightmare of Hillsborough.
By Jonathan Bartley Green Party co-leader - read original article in Huffington Post
It is heartbreaking for a parent to lose a child. It is also heartbreaking when the cause of a child’s death remains covered up, when parents who have already suffered so much are trod on by a system designed to protect institutions, not people, and when the evidence points everywhere except towards the verdict the coroner actually reached.
The Truth About Zane campaign aims to uncover the real cause of death of seven-year-old Zane Gbangbola. Zane died on February 8, 2014 after his home in Chertsey, Surrey was flooded. His parents have reams of evidence suggesting he was killed by hydrogen cyanide carried by floodwater from a nearby landfill site, but have faced an extraordinary battle with authorities to prove this.
The Green Party is joining the call for an independent panel inquiry into Zane’s death, as the Public Authority (Accountability) Bill was presented to parliament 29 March 2017.
Dubbed the ‘Hillsborough Law’, the bill would require public bodies and individuals to carry out their work in the public interest and assist courts, official inquiries and investigations. Parity of funding would also be provided for victims and their relatives for inquests and inquiries.
When Zane died his parents, Kye Gbangbola and Nicole Lawler, were also hospitalised in critical condition. Kye is now a paraplegic as a result of exposure to the gas and uses a wheelchair.
Hydrogen cyanide was detected by the fire and rescue teams who arrived on the scene but Zane’s body was not tested for the gas, which disappears after 48 hours. In 2016, the coroner ruled Zane’s death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty petrol pump used to clear floodwater from the house - a pump which was never in fact used.
I met Kye and Nicole earlier this month and I was struck by their determination and resilience in terrible circumstances. They’ve shown enormous courage to continue fighting for justice in the face of a huge bureaucratic machine and vested interests weighted against them.
But when I first sat down with them, before we discussed the harrowing journey they’ve been on since that terrible day in 2014, they told me about Zane - a smiling seven-year-old who loved cars and excelled at school. They have an immovable resolve that the humanity of Zane and his personality, his likes and dislikes, are at the centre of this story.
Kye and Nicole were denied legal aid because the probe into Zane’s death was not in “the public interest”, despite more than 30,000 people signing a petition to call for an investigation.
It’s crucial there’s a level playing field for families seeking answers about their loved ones’ deaths. For Zane’s parents, the Hillsborough Law would have meant they would have been given legal aid instead of having to crowdfund. The authorities investigating would be loyal only to the truth, not the institutions involved.
What kind of country do we live in when reputation management is deemed more important than a young boy’s life, and the opportunity to prevent others dying in the same way?
It would have been simple for Kye and Nicole to accept the coroner’s verdict of carbon monoxide poisoning. Not easy I’m sure, but simple, to fall in behind the finger of blame pointing towards the pump hire company for giving them a faulty petrol pump and failing to provide proper safety instructions.
But Kye and Nicole maintain they never bought any petrol for the pump, and it was never switched on except to briefly test if it was working. The house ran solely on electric power and only electric water pumps were in use. Their quest for the truth goes on.
It’s not for me to decide what happened that night. But I believe there is enough conflicting evidence for the verdict reached by the coroner to be thrown into question.
If we put aside for a moment the human side to this tragedy, the loss and injustice at the heart of this story, the implications of Zane’s death are enormous. Not just for his family, but potentially for everyone who lives near a landfill site. Many of these sites are unrecorded, so there are people who won’t even know if they do or not.
In Zane’s case, the Environment Agency knew about the risk from the landfill site at least four years before his death. When building a cabin next door to Zane’s house in 2010, the agency installed a gas-proof membrane to protect the property and people inside. But at no point did the EA warn Zane’s family or their neighbours.
Climate change is an ever growing threat, and while we are constantly working to mitigate the risks, significant challenges remain. Last year was the hottest year on record and extreme weather events, like the severe flooding where Zane lost his life, are on the rise.
It is a matter of when, not if, another unregulated landfill site is flooded. Hydrogen cyanide is not an innocuous substance. It can be difficult to detect and kills rapidly.
The authorities involved in this investigation must be held accountable. We must make sure the truth emerges, for Zane himself, for Kye and Nicole, and for every single person in the UK living next to a landfill site, whether they know it or not. A tragedy like this must never happen again.
Bill will rebalance the legal system by giving bereaved families equal funding at inquests
It will require police and public servants to be open and truthful in legal proceedings or face imprisonment
Deliberate attempts to mislead the media also made a criminal offence
In Parliament, Andy Burnham will ask Rt Revd Bishop James Jones appointed by Theresa May to report on the experience of the Hillsborough families, to adopt the Bill's proposals
A Bill paving the way for the fundamental rebalancing of the legal and coronial system in favour of ordinary families has been presented to Parliament today.
The Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill - or "Hillsborough Law" - seeks to prevent any other bereaved families going through the same experience as the Hillsborough families and experiencing a similar miscarriage of justice.
It has been proposed by all the Hillsborough families and is supported by a range of high-profile justice campaigns, many people in the legal profession and MPs from all parties, including Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas and Sir Peter Bottomley.
Andy Burnham spoke passionately about Zane's case saying "Zane Gbangbola was a boy of seven who died following a flood in his home in Surrey that occurred as part of the national floods in 2014. His parents, Kye and Nicole, strongly believe that the problem was caused by contaminated landfill. Scientists from Porton Down were called on site. The case was even discussed at Cobra. Despite that, the family were denied legal aid. They arrived at Zane’s inquest to find themselves up against a phalanx of top QCs and left feeling as though they had been put on trial. They are still fighting for answers today as to what happened to their child."
In a joint press release Andy went on to say "The Hillsborough families fought for 27 years for an inquest verdict of unlawful killing for the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough, Sheffield in 1989. At the original inquest, while the police had top lawyers paid for from the public purse, the families had to raise money to pay legal costs.
Sadly, many bereaved families are still going through the same experience today and cuts to legal aid are making the problem worse.
Andy Burnham will cite examples in the Commons of families who have recently been denied legal funding and who have been made to feel as if they have been put on trial by aggressive lawyers acting for public bodies.
The Bill seeks to correct this and provide for equality of funding for bereaved families at inquests and other inquiries with police and public bodies.
“The struggle of the Hillsborough families exposes the unfairness of a legal system where the odds are stacked against ordinary people seeking truth and justice for their loved-ones.
“Never again should families face financial ruin and have to fight like the Hillsborough families have had to fight,” said Burnham.
The Bill also requires all public bodies and individuals to carry out their functions in the public interest, including assisting courts, official inquiries and investigations. It creates new offences for the breach of these duties.
In Parliament, Burnham said that hopes that Hillsborough would mark a change in the way the State deals with families fighting for justice have so far proved unfounded. He cited the initial refusal of legal aid to families fighting for loved-ones killed in the Birmingham pub bombings, the result of an inquiry into Orgreave and the unfair treatment of people who have suffered from the contaminated blood scandal as evidence that things have not changed.
"Hillsborough must mark a moment of real change when Parliament rebalances the police and criminal justice system and puts more power in the hands of ordinary people. It’s time to end a system that allows public bodies to have endless resources while ordinary families have to scratch around for whatever they can get,” said Burnham.
Mike Jackson, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said: “The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign welcomes the ‘Hillsborough Law’ Bill which has secured cross-party support.
“This Bill will redress the unjust, historic imbalance between victims of the state and the state itself in regards to legal costs.
“It will also require public institutions, public servants and officials to act with candour and frankness or risk criminal proceedings.
“The events at Orgreave on 18th June 1984 and the subsequent cover-ups by the state would have been exposed and justly dealt with long ago if this legislation had been in place.”
Nicole Lawler and Kye Gbangbola, from the ‘Truth About Zane’ campaign, said: “Hillsborough abuses continues today with TruthAboutZane
“What kind of country do we live in when reputation management is deemed more important than a young boy’s life, and the opportunity to prevent others dying in the same way?
“The bill will change the dynamics to securing truth in controversial cases.”
J4the21 campaign for truth justice and accountability for those killed in the BPB74 welcomed the bill:
“We urge both cross party support and support from both Houses. The Bill is a tool for accountability when public authorities fail in their duties to those they should protect. The Bill addresses the inequality of resources between victims and relatives seeking redress when confronted with the might of the state. It should become law as soon as possible for individuals, families and communities to rely upon when public authorities fail them. It should also strengthen the will of those tasked with investigating both individual and systemic failings which can have devastating effects on ordinary lives.”
Deborah Coles, Director of the charity INQUEST which supports bereaved people following state related deaths said:
“INQUEST sees first-hand the institutional culture of defensiveness following state related deaths, as well as the inherent inequality of arms and resources for bereaved people compared to the unlimited resources available to public authorities.
“Hopefully, the learning from the Hillsborough inquests will be a catalyst for legal and cultural change and imbalance once and for all, so public bodies in all state-related deaths are required to act openly and honestly from the outset of investigations and at inquests to ensure their focus is on reducing the risks of similar deaths in future. Any justice system must ensure equal access to justice – otherwise, the state remains unaccountable.”
Public Authority (Accountability) - Hansard online
The Green Party has joined calls for an independent panel inquiry into the death of seven-year-old Zane Gbangbola, who died in 2014 after his home in Surrey was flooded.
Zane’s family believes he was killed by hydrogen cyanide carried by floodwater from a nearby landfill site, despite the coroner ruling his death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The family was denied legal aid and is now supporting the Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, dubbed the ‘Hillsborough Law’ , which will be presented to parliament tomorrow, on March 29.
Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party co-leader, is co-sponsoring the bill.
Zane’s parents Kye Gbangbola and Nicole Lawler are requesting an independent panel of inquiry, as in the Hillsborough inquest, to review all documentation around Zane’s death. More than 30,000 people have signed a petition  to support their call.
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader, met Kye and Nicole earlier this month.
“I was struck by Kye and Nicole’s determination and resilience in terrible circumstances. They’ve shown enormous courage to continue fighting for justice in the face of a huge bureaucratic machine and vested interests weighted against them.
“I fully support their call for an inquiry and tomorrow we’ll take an important step forward with this bill reaching parliament. It’s crucial there’s a level playing field for families seeking answers about their loved ones’ deaths.
“The implications of Zane’s death are enormous, not just for his family, but potentially for everyone who lives near a landfill site, particularly as many of these sites are unrecorded. The authorities involved in the investigation must be accountable so we can make sure the truth emerges and that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
The parents of 7 year old Zane Gbangbola, who died after his home was flooded in 2014, are continuing their quest for answers today
A coroner ruled that he died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a generator was used by the family to remove floodwater from the property.
But Zane’s parents Kye and Nicole, claim their son died after poisonous gases from a nearby landfill site infiltrated their home, something the authorities have denied.
Surrey County Council Labour candidate Fiona Dent says it doesn’t add up.
In response to a request for information from MP Kwasi Kwarteng, the Environment Agency replied "As the landowner, Brett Aggregates Limited will under the Health and Safety Act 1974 have a duty to ensure health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. You will need to contact them directly in regard to any instructions they have given their contractors."
The landowner told Mr Kwarteng; "We can assure you that no gas masks were worn."
Environmentalist Steve Backshall and Olympic Gold Medalist Helen GLover show support for Truth About zane
They are racing to raise funds to protect a section of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo, saving it from being cut down to make way for oil palm plantations and safeguarding a wealth of threatened wildlife found there, such as Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, the Bornean Orang-utan and Sunda Pangolin (the latter both classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List). Donations to sponsor Steve and Helen can be made here. If everyone did their part to help the environment and make the world a better place, the cumulative impact is significant. Toxic cases such as Zane's, of landfill killing precious children as they sleep, must never happen again.
Legal Aid Agency refuse to grant family legal aid for inquest