Boy, 16, denies arson over fire at 160-year-old London Oratory School

Suspect appeared alongside his parents at Highbury Youth Court on Friday afternoon

Holly Evans
Friday 29 December 2023 15:28 GMT
Fire engines at the school in Fulham, west London (James Manning/PA)
Fire engines at the school in Fulham, west London (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

A 16-year-old boy has denied committing arson following a fire at the London Oratory School in west London, the Metropolitan Police said.

Ten fire engines and about 70 firefighters were called to the 160-year-old Catholic school – which admits boys aged seven to 18 and girls aged 16 to 18 – in Fulham on Wednesday.

The fire was brought under control and no injuries have been reported, but part of an atrium in the four-storey building was damaged.

Highbury Corner Youth Court heard that police received a call just before 10am alerting them to a potential fire in a school.

On arriving at the school in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, officers reportedly found smoke and orange flames in the atrium and a “major fire incident” was declared.

The court heard that a swimming pool was under construction at the scene, which prompted an evacuation of the building and residents in the surrounding area.

The defendant, from the London Borough of Wandsworth, was reportedly identified at around 11.30am in the street and taken to a police station, where he allegedly assaulted a police officer.

On searching his home, officers allegedly found a fraudulent ID card.

A nearby shopping centre and some local properties were evacuated as a precaution, with residents urged to keep their windows closed.

Speaking to reporters at the scene, a spokesperson for the fire service said: “London Fire Brigade were called to a fire at the London Oratory School.

“It was an automatic fire alarm and we got called at 10.11. The crews worked extremely hard and got the fire under control at 11.47.”

The teenager was arrested a short while later and was taken into custody. The young man, who attended court with his parents and siblings, was bailed to the family home and ordered not to leave the house without being accompanied by one of his immediate family members.

He was also banned from entering Hammersmith and Fulham.

The defendant will next appear at Wimbledon Youth Court on January 23.

Former prime minister Sir Tony Blair and former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg both sent their sons to the school, whose alumni include actor Simon Callow and trade unionist Mick Whelan.

The school educates around 1,400 pupils and has been rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted.

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