I am proud to announce that the Fire Brigade Union are hosting a memorial for Zane. There is something you can do to give a loud clear message of support. Join us on what should have been Zane's 14th birthday to remember him and demand justice. http://bit.ly/justiceforzane Please sign up and share
Spelthorne council accuses coroner of 'cover up' over schoolboy Zane Gbangbola's death and demands inquiry
Councillors claim the inquest failed to consider fire service and medical evidence
Spelthorne councillors have accused Surrey’s senior coroner of misusing and omitting vital evidence in a "cover up" over seven-year-old Zane Gbangbola's death.
The Chertsey schoolboy died in 2014 when an old landfill site behind the family’s Thameside home was inundated with floodwater.
An inquest ruled Zane's death was an accident due to carbon monoxide exposure, from a petrol pump the family hired to reduce the water levels.
But Spelthorne Borough Council was told on Thursday night (September 10) that both a fire service incident report and Zane's dad's medical records – which councillors said were known to coroner Richard Travers, but not called as evidence – point to hydrogen cyanide as the cause.
In an extraordinary meeting, Councillor Ian Beardsmore said: "This is a tragedy and a cover up that surrounds it and that's where the distaste lies.
"COBRA met at 5 o’clock [on the day of the incident] to discuss this issue - that is how important this was.
"We know Porton Down were called in to examine this site; Porton Down are not called in because of carbon monoxide on a faulty pump."
He added: "It's the way the facts were used, not used, or misused, in the inquest. That is where the anger lies, that so much important evidence, so many facts, so many statements were either ignored or simply not allowed to be presented."
The council is writing to Home Secretary Priti Patel to express its "deep unease and anger at the way this issue has been dealt with so far".
Thirty one councillors voted unanimously, with no abstentions, to call for an immediate and full independent panel inquiry into the tragedy.
Zane's mum Nicole Lawler and dad Kye Gbangbola have been campaigning for years for such an inquiry, in a similar vein to Hillsborough.
Mr Gbangbola was left paralysed from the waist down from the same event that killed his son.
After watching the meeting, he said: "Despite our deep frustration these past 79 months, we have harboured a hope that authorities would change and start to do the right thing.
"Zane would have been starting Year 9 this week with his many friends. Added to our deep grief, we feel the constant, quiet pain of the inconsistencies and cruel disposition imposed on us."
Councillor Christopher Bateson told Spelthorne Borough Council: “Zane’s father’s medical record states unequivocally that HCN (hydrogen cyanide) is the cause of his paralysis. The coroner refused to accept his medical record as evidence.
"There is much controversy surrounding the use or not of the pump. The coroner stated that it had been run until it was dry of fuel.
"When this pump was handed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for examination, it still contained fuel in sufficient quantity for it to be run again, on not one, but two separate occasions. This contradicts the coroner's statement.
"The same HSE examiner also stated that, had carbon monoxide been present in sufficient quantity to cause harm, it would have lingered for sufficient enough time to have been measured."
Councillor Beardsmore said he wanted an inquiry "for the sake of the family, for the sake of justice and for the sake of all our residents".
He said: "This isn't something we’ve heard about on Facebook, this is here, now, with us.
"This is something we all live with and it could have been any one of us."
Councillor Veena Siva, leader of the Labour group and borough councillor for Staines, said the council's support has been a long time coming. She said: "It is utterly scandalous that Spelthorne Borough Council who represent the Gbangbolas have thus far not supported their call for an independent panel inquiry (IPI).
"No coroner is infallible, as we know from Hillsborough and Stephen Lawrence and Gosport Hospital, and there’s crucial evidence that must be seen and heard in an IPI.”
original article here>>
Thursday 10 September 2020 at 6pm
Venue: Skype video conference call
Members of the public may hear the proceedings by tuning into the Council’s YouTube channel:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__Oyu8OHOZI&;feature=youtu.be
Spelthorne are holding an extraordinary council meeting on 10th September at 6pm to consider the following motion concerning the death of Zane Gbangbola 6 years ago:-
“This council is deeply concerned that the tragic events surrounding the death of 7 year old Zane Gbangbola, and the paralysing of his father have not been adequately dealt with. The tragedy occurred during the floods of 2014 when an old waste site behind the family’s house was inundated with water. We believe crucial evidence on the potentially toxic nature of the site has been ignored. The recent claims of the dumping of toxic waste behind the house by a nearby military institution, only serves to make it more important that the truth behind this terrible incident be uncovered.
To this end within 14 working days this Council resolves to:
1) Write to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the strongest possible terms expressing its deep unease and anger at the way this issue has been dealt with so far and
2) Call for an immediate, full Independent Panel Inquiry (similar to Hillsborough) into this tragedy and all the events surrounding it.
3) this letter to the Secretary of State is open to be signed by the leaders of all political groups on Spelthorne Council and
4) the letter is featured prominently on Spelthorne Council’s web site and in attendant Council publicity.
You can listen in to most of Spelthorne’s meeting on their YouTube channel. They are broadcast live and then available to watch later.
The link for this meeting can be found here…
We do not know where this will lead or what will happen. We want actions not words we will reassess things after the 10th when the meeting has been held. There must be a full and fearless investigation from an independent panel inquiry with powers to compel disclosure into Zane’s death. It has been almost 7 years on since Zane’s passing and he was only 7 years old when he died. This has simply taken too long.
A couple who believe their son died as a result of chemical waste being dumped near their home say a document has come to light backing their claim.
An inquest ruled Zane Gbangbola died aged seven from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014.
But his parents say he was poisoned by gases washed out of the land during floods in Chertsey, Surrey.
They say a planning document reveals a buried canister which gave off a noxious smell was found nearby in 1972.
Kye Gbangbola and Nicole Lawler said this tallied with information that had already emerged about the alleged dumping of chemicals near their home.
Earlier this year, a former Ministry of Defence engineer made claims to the BBC that subcontractors working for a tank research facility dumped chemical waste in gravel pits around Chertsey, including behind the family's house.
The whistleblower told the BBC the chemicals would have been put into drums that rusted and corroded over the years, allowing chemicals to leach into the ground.
Because the BBC agreed to protect his identity it was unable to verify the claims.
The latest information was revealed in planning documents submitted by Esso for an aviation fuel pipeline from Southampton to London.
The documents described how boreholes were drilled into the Lavenders landfill site in 1972 but in one borehole the drilling "appeared to strike a metal canister... which released a substance that effervesced with water in the borehole and gave rise to an 'obnoxious smell'."
Zane's parents said the 1972 incident supported their version of events and have made fresh calls for independent tests.
They have been backed by environmental consultant Paul Mobbs who said, until regulations changed in the 1990s, drums of waste would be buried alongside other landfill.
He said: "There could be drums of anything in there.
"Today, landfill is all managed and they have got an exact map. The tipping plan for Lavenders is quite literally a line on a map."
He backed the couple's concerns and their calls for independent testing of the land, adding: "We won't know what's in there until they go around and drill holes and test it."
After Zane died during floods in 2014, his death was attributed by a coroner to carbon monoxide poisoning from a petrol-powered pump used by the couple to clear floodwater, but which they insist was not in use.
They said floods forced hydrogen cyanide out of the land, which killed Zane and left his father paralysed.
Ms Lawler said: "Disturbing the ground puts residents at risk as well as workers. Kye and I do not want anyone else to grieve a death or suffer life-changing injury."
She said: "The land should be independently tested."
Link to original BBC article 6 August 2020 >>
I hope that you are all staying safe and the lockdown has it's hidden joys.
3 years ago a family member said “To be Black (or Brown) and poor in this world means that justice does not exist for you and your life means NOTHING.
What's the point in calling for JUSTICE when the definition isn't the same for you?
What's the point in being law-abiding when they will always see you as a threat?
What's the point in telling someone to "be safe" when the streets, the institutions and this world are not.
What's the point in saying it will get better when for hundreds of years, the injustice, inequality and racism remains the same albeit in different forms.”
Never are her words more true than now. Be safe, injustice, these are words that mean different things to different people and when I look at what is happening in the world right now and I reflect on our ongoing battle for the TruthAboutZane, I can’t put my hand on my heart and say I don’t believe that if Zane was a white boy, if we were a white family and not from jewel heritage, that we didn’t have an African family name, we wouldn’t have been treated differently.
The outcome would certainly be the same, the lies, corruption, cover- up BUT the micro aggressive behaviours we experience, the profiling, the dehumanisation by the institutionally racist police and others in authority, I argue would have not existed.
Zane was a beautiful and innocent little brown boy, did his life matter?
In 2014, seven-year-old Zane died. His family say toxic gases from a landfill site killed their son. Six years on, they’re still awaiting justice.
Hundreds of delegates were silent at Black members’ conference today as they listened to the tragic story of Zane Gbangbola, whose family say that he was killed by hydrogen cyanide poisoning.
Zane’s father, Kye (pictured), spoke calmly and with great dignity as he described how, after years of fighting for the truth, he is still confronted daily with silence from the authorities involved.
“Zane deserves justice, he deserves the truth. I’m sure many of you in the audience have children and I would not wish what has happened to me and my family to ever happen again,” he said.
“Yet until we get to the truth, there is a very real chance that a similar disaster could occur, particularly as the risk of flooding increases with climate change.”
The Gbangbola family’s nightmare began on 8 February 2014 when severe weather warnings were announced across of England. As Zane slept upstairs at his home in Chertsey, Surrey, a flash flood of water from a neighbouring field started seeping into their home.
It was later revealed that this field had previously been used for landfill and hydrogen cyanide can lurk in such sites. This gas is so deadly that it was the one used to kill millions in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.
“It was my wife Nicole who alerted the emergency services that night as both Zane and I were seriously exposed to the gas and were unconscious. If she hadn’t dialled 999, it is very likely that many more people would have been killed.”
Tragically, Zane died that night and Kye, who was also exposed to the gas, suffered a cardiac arrest. He is now a paraplegic as a result of his injuries. Nicole was downstairs when the gas entered the house and survived without permanent injury, as hydrogen cyanide is lighter than air and the gas had risen to the top of the house.
A report by the Surrey Fire Service that night confirmed that high levels of hydrogen cyanide were found at the site.
Yet despite Zane’s death, Kye’s injuries, the official fire service report, the immediate presence of the world leading chemical weapons agency Porton Down at the site, and the fact that the Gbangbolas were not allowed to return to their home for 12 months, the family soon realised that the truth of what had happened that night was to be hidden from them.
For six years, they claim that the government has led a cover up of the truth.
At Zane’s inquest, the Gbangbola family was confronted with an army of top QCs and barristers. Each of the five authorities involved had its own team of legal experts – plus an additional team for the coroner.
“These teams were paid for from public funds,” said Kye. “By contrast, we were denied legal aid three times and had to crowdfund to afford the most basic representation.
“Zane was a beautiful and popular seven-year-old schoolboy who loved helping people and charities with his mummy and daddy,” said Kye. “At the inquest though, he was stripped of his human right to have his case heard by a jury. When you talk about equality of arms, it was tantamount to having multiple Goliaths bombarding a naked David.”
The inquest concluded that Zane died of carbon monoxide poisoning – a gas more commonly associated with home gas boilers – despite the fact that no dangerous levels of carbon monoxide were found at Zane’s home on the night of disaster and the family lived in an electric-only home.
The Truth About Zane campaign is now demanding an independent panel enquiry so that the truth of what happened that night and the risk posed by land fill sites across the UK can be fully exposed.
The British Medical Journal has identified that more than 50 million people in the UK live within 2km of landfill and, until there is an enquiry, the potential risk of similar disasters occurring will not be known.
“An independent panel enquiry is the way that Hillsborough finally got the truth after years of lies and misinformation,” explained Kye. “It’s a way of releasing information that has been locked away for years.”
Over the last six years, The Truth About Zane campaign has attracted widespread support from many politicians, organisations and trade unions, including UNISON and the Fire Brigades’ Union, whose members were at the scene on the night of Zane’s death. The Labour Party and the Green Party support the campaign too.
At the end of his speech, delegates at Black members’ conference gave Kye a standing ovation and collected donations in buckets to help fund the campaign.
“I thank you for your support in fighting this injustice,” said Kye. “Please show this support by signing our petition and pre-ordering a copy of our book. Together, we can find the truth about Zane and prevent similar disasters happening again in the future.”
Find out more – and pre-order a copy of The Truth About Zane – at www.truthaboutzane.com
Sign the petition for an independent investigation into Zane’s death
Zane’s parents and the TruthAboutZane Campaign has taken the decision to postpone our Petition March which was due to take place in London on the 29th March 2020.
We are really sorry that this has been necessary however, it would not be responsible to continue with our plans given the current COVID-19 situation. The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of COVID-19 and public health is everyone’s priority.
The recent COVID-19 announcements make clear there is a need to mitigate risk. As such for all of us, especially placing front line Emergency services at risk in a large gathering, who must be kept safe, the responsible thing to do is to delay the march.
Our observances are that the wealthy few will be looked after. The many will not, and will be misdirected and sleepwalk into harms way due to a government happy to abdicate all responsibility for the civilian population.
Zane's campaign is about caring, responsibility, and accountability. Solidarity and collectivism is about standing together to achieve change safely, keeping our brothers and sisters and their families free from illness, or WORSE.
We know you will share our disappointment that we will not be delivering Zane’s petition now but will understand why we have taken this step.
To you and yours STAY SAFE.
Kye and Nicole (Zane’s daddy and mummy) and The TruthAboutZane Campaign
Don’t let a grieving parent walk alone
29th March we march to 10 Downing Street!!!
Marching 108,000+ petition for an Independant Panel Inquiry into the death of little Zane.
When Kye Gbangbola and Nicole Lawler moved into their house on the banks of the River Thames in Surrey, it looked like the perfect place to raise a family. Sixteen years later, it stands as a reminder of Zane, the son they lost, while their fight for answers continues over what caused his death.
The couple believe the inquest into their son's death, which concluded in September 2016, was flawed. Zane's death was attributed by the coroner to carbon monoxide poisoning from a petrol-powered pump used by the couple to clear floodwater - but which they insist was not in use.
They believe a former landfill site behind their home in Chertsey was the source of hydrogen cyanide gas, which was forced up and out of the earth by the "piston effect" of the swollen river raising the level of the water table underground, and it was this gas that killed Zane.
Firefighters found high levels of hydrogen cyanide at the property, according to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which has "serious concerns" about how the inquest was conducted.
They have spent the past six years gathering information they say was not explored or disclosed at the inquest, and which they want to be put before an independent panel inquiry.
This includes the existence of a Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) military tank-testing facility, identified as a former industrial site in Runnymede council's land contamination strategy.
A former Ministry of Defence (MoD) engineer, who asked to remain anonymous, has told the BBC he believes subcontractors working for the tank-research facility five miles from the house used to dump waste chemicals in local gravel pits, including behind Zane's house.
He said those chemicals were by-products from anti-rust and anti-corrosion tank coatings and he claimed they could produce cyanide. They would have been put into drums that rusted and corroded over the years, allowing chemicals to leach into the ground, he alleged.
The BBC has agreed to protect his identity as a former MoD worker, but has therefore been unable to verify the claims.
It recently emerged during a commemoration for Zane, held at the House of Lords, that experts from the government's defence laboratory, Porton Down, were involved in the response to his death.
At that event, Manchester's Labour mayor Andy Burnham said: "I want the truth about Zane. I don't think we do have the truth about what happened to this lovely little boy.
"There were many authorities involved," the former health secretary said. "Porton Down was also involved. Did any of this come out in the inquest? No it didn't. Therefore, the full story clearly wasn't told at the inquest and it needs to be."
In his report at the conclusion of the inquest, the coroner Richard Travers cited an expert who said high levels of hydrogen cyanide were rare and all associated with former gasworks, while a council officer said there had been no significant pollution incidents on the land behind Zane's home since the 1950s.
However, another report referred to by the coroner did acknowledge that illegal tipping could have taken place, and a further expert, geo-environmentalist Gavin Roberts, told the inquest it was possible floodwater had triggered a one-off discharge of hydrogen cyanide and carried it to the basement of the house.
The coroners report did not look at the area's military and defence history.
In December, the FBU's general secretary Matt Wrack wrote to the family: "Our members attended that fateful day in 2014 and found hydrogen cyanide in your home."
He said there were "disturbing gaps in the evidence", adding: "The unregulated landfill site adjacent to your home seems to have released the nerve gas and there must now be an independent inquiry so this can be looked at, and those found responsible must be held to account."
The BBC has taken all claims about historical contamination in the area to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Environment Agency and Defra, and also to the two local authorities, Runnymede and Spelthorne councils. The tank facility was run by the former Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, which was part of the MoD and was later split into the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Qinetiq. The BBC approached DSTL, which has its headquarters at Porton Down, for comment but was referred to the MoD.
Legal Aid Agency refuse
3 times to grant family legal aid for inquest