Police investigating possible hate crime after Hackney house fire

A man arrested on suspicion of arson reportedly made antisemitic remarks while being arrested


The flames engulfed the east London house on Wednesday lunchtime (Photo: Twitter)

A man arrested on suspicion of starting a housefire in Hackney has allegedly made antisemitic comments.

The house fire broke out in East London on Wednesday lunchtime and is being treated as deliberate. According to the Metropolitan Police, the alleged arsonist could have made antisemitic comments.

A man in his 60s was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life near the scene and made what the Met described as threatening and "allegedly antisemitic" comments, which the force is investigating as a “potential hate crime”.

The London Fire Brigade were called to the scene on Newick Road in east London at around 12.45 on Wednesday afternoon.

Dramatic footage of the enormous fire was shared on social media and showed flames overwhelming the building and pouring out of smashed windows.

The ground floor and first floor of the three-story house were destroyed by the blaze, which took 60 firefighters and eight fire engines from Shoreditch, Stoke Newington, Bethnal Green and surrounding fire stations to control.

Three people left the building before the fire crew’s arrival and four were taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews but are not in a life-threatening condition. One of those injured was a passerby. The suspect is also being treated in hospital for minor injuries.

In a statement on Twitter, the CST said: “This appears to be a very serious incident and we appreciate the police’s swift action in making an arrest.

“We have been in contact with police since yesterday due to the allegation that this may have been an antisemitic hate crime. We will be working with them to provide reassurance to the local Jewish community over the coming days.”

Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, responsible for policing in Hackney, said: “On his arrest, the man made a number of threatening comments, some of which were allegedly antisemitic. We take instances of antisemitism extremely seriously and for this reason, we’re investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.

“Undoubtedly this will be extremely concerning news for our Jewish communities in Hackney and beyond, and I and my officers will be engaging with partners including the Community Safety Trust and the Shomrim, to answer their questions and listen to their views. Whilst the investigation will continue to explore the motivation for this offence, we believe at this stage that this was centred on a localised housing-related issue. We have no indication, at this very early stage, that the motivation was connected with any specific local or global events.

“I know our Jewish communities are about to begin celebrations for Purim, and we have a robust policing plan in place, including increased patrols and enhanced police visibility, to ensure the festivities can be enjoyed safely and securely.”

London Fire Brigade Station Commander Alan Bendell, who attended the scene said: “Crews worked hard to bring the fire under control and stop the fire from spreading to neighbouring properties."

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