"Today we reach out to the other side of pain and injustice that closed Zane's eyes, to a space where we can celebrate and remember Zane,"
"Today we reach out to the other side of pain and injustice that closed Zane's eyes, to a space where we can celebrate and remember Zane,"
Read more and see the short video here:http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/zane-gbangbola-fireworks-tribute-schoolboy-12580329
"We must learn from Hillsborough and change, but already these look like hollow words as miscarriages of justice continue to be turned down for Independent Panel Inquiries." Nicole Gbangbola
Former Cabinet minister Mr Burnham is campaigning for changes to the law to ensure parity of funding for bereaved families at inquests and a new duty for public servants to act with "candour and frankness" and assist inquiries and investigations.
At the event, organised by Andy Burnham MP he said he wanted the Hillsborough inquests to mark "a fundamental rebalancing of the scales in favour of ordinary families" but "I don't think that's happened".
"I think the system has gone back to the bad old ways.”
Parents of Zane Gbangbola who are calling for a Hillsborough style Independent Panel Inquiry into their son’s death gave a deeply emotional update, to a packed room, on their fight for TruthAboutZane.
In a heart-breaking speech which had many of the audience, struggling to keep their emotions in check, Kye Gbangbola said “As a family we believed compassion was an essential element of Natural British justice, however we weep at the unrelenting cruelty that has been heaped upon Zane, and us as a family.”
Speaking about their profound concerns by the conduct, the content and the outcome of Zane’s inquest, he said, “Zane had unalienable rights to life and a beautiful future. He was let down, and by definition we were all let down. Because this could have happened to anyone. 80% of us live within 2 Km of landfill and flooding is happening everywhere. The Environment Agency (EA) own properties next door to us and secretly protected them from migrating landfill gasses with gas proof membranes. An EA report at this time; four years before Zane died, stated the migrating gases from the adjacent landfill, have a high risk of causing death and serious injury. The EA protected themselves and hid the danger from the public.”
“In addition to various areas of critical evidence being hidden; we had 5 QC’s from different authorities against us. Whilst we had to beg, borrow, and crowd fund £70K to pay for representation, right up to the day of Zane’s Inquest, because legal aid was refused 3 times. The other QC’s and barrister’s, some of the best in the country, used public money like water.”
He told the event in Parliament: "Nothing every changed without people calling for it. That’s what the ‘Hillsborough law’ does and that’s what Hillsborough families and the inquests did, and that’s what truth about Zane will do.”
"We are simple people but we are fighters," he said.
"Greater effort is definitely needed in all our cases to ensure that there is a level playing field when these controversial cases arise. These were PM Teresa May’s sentiments immediately the Hillsborough verdict of ‘unlawful killings’ were announced.
He said, “nearly a year on, nothing has changed and cases of significant wider public interest are summarily rejected for the Independent Panel Inquiries they need for justice.
Andy Burnham MP said he had reviewed the case files and ‘This was a flawed inquest,’ and ‘Justice has not been served in this case.’
The audience also heard from representatives of organisation including the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Orgreave Truth And Justice Campaign and Justice4the21 Campaign, Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, Sean Rigg Justice & Change Campaign, amongst others.
Julie Hambleton, who lost her 18-year-old sister Maxine in the Birmingham Pub Bombings and who is the spokesperson for Justice4the 21 said, “the killers are still at liberty.”
She went on the say “there had to be a fundamental change in the way victims were treated.”
She said: "There must be a paradigm shift in how the Government supports representatives of bereaved families and survivors of crime where the state are believed to be involved.
Alongside Ms Hambleton was Christopher Stanley of KRW LAW LLP who said “the relatives of the victims, ignored since 1974, had to come to Belfast to instruct a Northern Ireland firm of solicitors.”
“All the work carried out by both solicitors and counsel has been pro bono for 2 and a half years.”
Families of the Birmingham pub bombings victims have won a major legal battle to change the law, which means they can now apply for legal aid for representation at fresh hearings into the 1974 double bombings.
Margaret Aspinall CBE and spokesperson for the Hillsborough Family Support Group suffered the ‘unlawful killing’ of her 18 year-old son James in the 1989 crush. She spoke of how they had to raise £150,000 to get a barrister for the inquest. She told how 42 families had to find £3,000 as some of the families had nothing to give.
Her main call was for the Government to create a level playing field for bereaved families in legal fights: “You have to change things in this country for the good of the ordinary people because if they can cover up 96 collective deaths what can they do to individuals?
Mr Burnham said without proper representation, highly paid lawyers representing the state were able to "discredit" and "cast aspersions" about victims and their families.
"The lawyers, hired at public expense, don't just represent their clients they actively seek to discredit the bereaved."
I would cite in support of that the decision to refuse an inquiry into what happened in Orgreave, I would also cite in support of that the treatment of those who lost loved ones in the Birmingham pub bombings."
Home Secretary Amber Rudd last year rejected an inquiry into the violent "Battle of Orgreave" clash between police and striking miners at the coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire.
"The case for an inquiry is just overwhelming," Mr Burnham said.
"The injustice of the decision still burns pretty strongly."
Mr Burnham, who is introducing a "Hillsborough Bill" in March in an attempt to secure the legal changes he is campaigning for, said: "The sad truth is that bereaved families are still going through today the same experience that Hillsborough families went through 27 years ago.”
"They are forced to scrape together their own legal costs and find themselves up against top QCs hired at great public expense by public bodies.
"It is not a level playing field and it does not secure truth and justice.
"That is why we are calling today for the law to change."
Zane Gbangbola: Parents' heartbreaking tribute to schoolboy on what would have been his 10th birthday
Zane's mother Nicole Lawler said: "We miss Zane’s chats, his lovely voice, his love of cars, his friends, his teachers and, of course, chatting about books."
Zane Gbangbola would have celebrated his 10th birthday on Friday.
The "kind and beautiful" schoolboy died aged seven at his Thameside home in Chertsey during the February 2014 floods.
On the eve of his birthday, Get Surrey spoke to Zane's mother Nicole Lawler about her son’s talents and passions at school and in his spare time, and their ongoing pain of losing a child.
“For us, the seven years we enjoyed with Zane were the best seven years of our lives,” said Nicole.
“The world is a poorer place without him. We were exceptionally proud of him.
"That was us. Birthdays were always big.”
Zane was found unresponsive at his home by his mother and taken to hospital along with his father Kye Gbangbola.
Kye was later left paralysed from the waist down and now requires the use of a wheelchair.
“We miss Zane’s chats, his lovely voice, his love of cars, his friends, his teachers and of course chatting about books. And we miss much more about our lives together.
"I hope people remember his beautiful smile, his kindness, his jokes, his work in the classroom, on the pitch and fun in the playground.
“He was a truly remarkable boy. Zane had so much to offer. We love Zane so much and we have always admired and been inspired by him because he truly was an extraordinary human being.”
Nicole said Zane, who went to St George’s Junior School in Weybridge, was passionate about raising money for charity.
He was so keen to lend a hand at the Salvation Army Christmas Day lunch in Addlestone, he encouraged his family to stay instead of going home to enjoy festivities.
“One of the great differences he made was as the founder member of St George’s Junior School Green Team,” said Nicole. “Sustainability and the environment was a seamless thread that went through him.”
Zane also enjoyed BMX riding and taekwondo, and took grading just before he died.
“He was going to get his green belt,” she said. “There was a few of them collecting their belts and they didn’t have enough. Zane was given his but he said ‘ladies first’ and let the girl next to his have it.
"He died that weekend. We got it afterwards and it went with him. But it shows what a beautiful child he was.”Following the outcome of the inquest last month, which ruled Zane died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from a hired petrol pump, his parents called for a an independent inquiry into the outcome.
The family maintain Zane was killed after floodwater, contaminated by deadly cyanide gas from a former landfill site near the home, leaked into their house.
“Following the verdict, we realised that this is going to be a much longer fight.
"The Truth About Zane group and campaigners behind it are as strong as ever and as committed as ever about securing the truth.
“As a family, we feel blessed about their love and support. Some days we wouldn’t manage without them.”
It is hard to imagine that anything could deepen the agony of grieving parents after the sudden death of a young child.
But after losing their seven-year-old son Zane, Nicole and Kye Gbangbola learnt to their horror that they were being blamed for his death by the authorities for using a petrol pump emitting toxic carbon monoxide to clear water from their flooded home.
Yet the couple from Surrey insisted there was a very different explanation for the tragedy: the hydrogen cyanide firemen had detected inside the house.
For two years they battled to establish the truth – only to be left devastated when earlier this month a coroner found the pump was to blame.
But now the parents have been given new hope, after Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham launched an outspoken attack on the inquest – branding it ‘seriously flawed’.
Accusing the coroner of failing to call key witnesses, Mr Burnham said there had been an obvious attempt to ‘discredit’ the grief-stricken couple, who deny using the pump.
He is now demanding an independent review of the case, similar to the one for which he long campaigned for for the Hillsborough families.
‘This was a flawed inquest,’ Mr Burnham told The Mail on Sunday. ‘Justice has not been served in this case.’
Floodwater rose around the outside of the family’s riverside home in Chertsey, Surrey, during the storms that battered Britain in February 2014.
Read Zane's parents statement in full:
“We are profoundly concerned by the conduct, the content and the outcome of Zane’s inquest.
“Our concern regarding the rejection of our application for legal aid, clear deficiencies in the administration of evidence and given the contested circumstances, the failure to have that evidence heard before a jury.
“This extends beyond our case and is a matter of public concern. We requested legal aid and an Article 2 inquest with a jury and both were rejected.
“Zane’s inquest was deficient legally and evidentially.
“We applied for full disclosure and this was rejected. The inquest satisfied neither our [interest] nor the public interest and at the discretion of the coroner, the primary concerns were not addressed and significant evidence not given to us - nor examined.
“We were also dependant on public donations to gain legal representation and present our case while the authorities had considerable resources. This was a significant failure in achieving equality of arms.
“As a consequence, we requested an independent panel of inquiry.
“The precedent being the Hillsborough independent panel to review all documentation from all interested parties, specify witnesses not called to this inquest and to make recommendations accordingly.
“Only when all of the available evidence is assessed by a panel with the collective expertise to provide a thorough and open examination of all of the available material and to make informed recommendations will we consider that the state has acted in the best interests and therefore in the public interest.
“We expect to be consulted on the membership of such a panel.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the public who have supported us in our quest for justice for Zane.
“At the top of this was a deeply loved boy. A very special little boy. The world is a much poorer place without Zane.
“Our love for Zane keeps us going and while we have breath in our bodies, we fight to expose the inconvenient truth.”
Inquest shock: Pathologist investigating death of seven-year-old boy tells coroner that police failed to reveal high levels of cyanide gas in child's flooded home
A pathologist investigating the death of a little boy was not told that levels of deadly cyanide gas were detected in his flooded home, an inquest has been told.
Tragic Zane Gbangbola, seven, was overcome by toxic fumes as he slept during the early hours of February 8, 2014.
His grieving parents believe he was killed by cyanide gas seeping into their house from floodwater coming from a landfill site at the back of their home.
But in bombshell evidence to a coroner, pathologist Safa Al-Sarraj has said he was never told firefighters had detected hydrogen cyanide at the scene.
Instead, Prof Al-Sarraj said he was informed by police that a petrol-powered water pump had been seized at the family’s home next to the Thames in Chertsey, Surrey, leading him to conclude that Zane had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Police and public health experts latched on to Prof Al-Sarraj’s findings to lay the blame for Zane’s death on fumes from the pump hired by his parents to clear floodwater from their basement.
But Zane’s parents, Kye and Nicole Gbangbola, insist this was impossible because the pump was not in use at the time of the floods. The tragic incident left Mr Gbangbola, 50, a company director, paralysed, which doctors say was caused by hydrogen cyanide gas.
Despite this, Surrey Police pursued a ten-month investigation into the water pump, which was dropped when prosecutors said there was no case to answer.
Leslie Thomas QC, a barrister acting for Zane’s family, said the pump theory had ‘collapsed like a house of cards’ after Prof Al-Sarraj’s evidence to the coroner.
Prof Al-Sarraj, a leading neuropathologist, said he was brought in to examine Zane’s brain after an autopsy by two Home Office pathologists could not establish why he had died.
He said he found evidence of ‘toxicity’ but did not consider cyanide because he was unaware it was a factor in the case.
‘Had I been told [about cyanide], I would have made efforts to investigate in a different way and analyse the data in a different way,’ he said. ‘I was only given this story [about carbon monoxide]. This is how I reached my conclusions.’ Prof Al-Sarraj told the inquest that cyanide and carbon monoxide acted in a similar way on the brain.
The five-week inquest into Zane’s death has been told of a catalogue of bungled investigations and missed opportunities, including the fact that blood samples from Zane’s body and water samples from the home were not analysed until weeks after his death, meaning any traces of cyanide gas would have evaporated.
It is unclear why Prof Al-Sarraj was not told about the cyanide.
He told the coroner he had been instructed to conduct the autopsy by Professor Rupert Risdon, who had performed the first inconclusive post-mortem examination. Prof Risdon said he had ‘assumed’ that Prof Al-Sarraj had been told to look for cyanide poisoning.
Surrey senior coroner Richard Travers has adjourned the case and is due to give his verdict in early September.
Read original article in MailonSunday >>
Legal aid has been refused for a third time to the family of a Surrey boy who died during floods in the county.
Zane Gbangbola, seven, died at his home in Chertsey in February 2014. An inquest is due to start on Monday and last several weeks.
His parents said the latest decision "twisted a knife in their back" as they lost time preparing to represent themselves.
The Legal Aid Agency has deemed the case is "not in the public interest".
The family disputes post-mortem findings which suggest Zane died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a petrol-driven water pump at their property next to the Thames.
'Rock bottom'They believe he was killed by hydrogen cyanide in floodwater contaminated by an old landfill site next door.
Zane's mother Nicole Lawler told BBC Surrey: "The Legal Aid Agency themselves contacted us and asked us to reapply, given the new evidence of hydrogen cyanide. Our hopes were built up and it has wasted weeks of time. We are at rock bottom.
"We are trying to find £70,000 just to get a death certificate and hopefully from that some recommendations on landfill.
"We will fight to get Zane a truthful, dignified answer."
Legal Aid Agency refuse to grant family legal aid for inquest