Coronavirus: Secret raves in London 'put lives at risk'

By Paul Grant and Kafui Okpattah
5 Live Investigations Unit

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media captionFootage shows raves taking place in London

Hundreds of people have attended three all-night raves in London even though social distancing rules and government regulations clearly prohibit such events taking place.

BBC Radio 5 Live's Investigations Unit was tipped off about raves being advertised on a private Instagram page.

Police say they attended two of the gatherings but no arrests were made.

The organisers say the raves are a community of people exercising to house music and social-distancing took place.

It is understood more raves are planned.

Posing as a raver, a researcher asked to follow the page.

Once their request was accepted, they were invited to a secret WhatsApp group and received updates on when the next rave would be.

Tickets cost £15 each and once payment has been made by bank transfer, the organisers send a picture which contains the secret location for the event.

Large numbers

At least three raves were held last month at a former business premises in Leytonstone.

The BBC has seen video footage from some of these events. They show a large number of people inside the venue which can hold up to 300 people.

The organisers say between 70 and 100 people attended each rave, but claim only about half that number were inside at one time so people could keep apart.

But in the footage the BBC has seen, ravers are partying close together.

Under the latest guidelines for England brought in to target coronavirus, groups of up to six people from different households can meet outside as long as they remain 2m apart.

Events 'not legal'

image captionA text message from organisers, seen by the BBC, admitting the event is illegal

The BBC has also seen a text message from the organisers - Kanni Events Ltd registered in Leytonstone - in which they admit the events are not legal.

In April, the same people behind the raves co-hosted a virtual event to raise money for PPE for NHS and key workers. The online poster included the government slogan: "Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives."

The BBC has discovered more events are planned.

John Cryer, the MP for Leyton and Wanstead, said organisers were putting lives at risk.

"It doesn't get much lower than this. I've just written to a constituent whose husband died of coronavirus. I wonder if the people organising the raves might appreciate reality if the lives of their own relatives were in danger," he said.

The organisers dispute the events are raves.

They say the events are not for profit and they will be implementing safety measures such as PPE for staff and taking the temperature of those attending before they are allowed in.

Even with these steps in place, such events are currently not allowed.

The Metropolitan Police says after attending two of the raves, extra patrols were organised to ensure no further events took place.

Waltham Forest Council said the venue was being illegally squatted and had now been closed down.

On Tuesday evening, police were called after hundreds of revellers held a street party in Harlesden in north-west London. And last weekend a number of people were arrested after police broke up another large street party in Clapton in east London.

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