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.
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