South Harrow man's death not a crime

Witness account of machete attack "entirely false"

Today, Cllr Graham Henson, Leader of Harrow Council and Chief Executive, Sean Harriss, issued a joint statement following reports of a violent attack in South Harrow. It reads:

There is some important news today regarding this week’s death in South Harrow that we wanted to share with you, right away.

On Wednesday a man sadly died, by the Ladbrokes on Wargrave Road, next to Northolt Road. There was a very obvious crime scene there, up for several hours, and it was widely reported in the media that this was a murder. Some newspapers took the opportunity to describe in gruesome detail how a man with a machete had perpetrated this murder, and had run from the scene, in broad daylight, brandishing it, before being arrested.

The police have now told us that their investigations show this death was not a murder; not in fact a stabbing or a crime at all; in fact, it is now believed to be a tragic death due to medical reasons, with no other people involved. The witness account of a machete being seen is now believed to be entirely false; and the man who was arrested has been released without charge.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the man who died.

We are taking the unusual step of writing to you all about this, because we know how much community fear and anxiety was stirred up this week by the confusion and the false media reports, in the immediate area and beyond. We also know how the media is very quick to run with a sensationalist story of horror – as in this case – but when that story is found to be false, they are not so quick to correct themselves. It is part of our role, as Leader and Chief Executive of the council, to tell the truth in these cases, and I hope you will all help us spread the word to our communities.

While the South Harrow incident was not a crime – at the council we remain deeply concerned and preoccupied by the wave of violence across London, and recent terrible incidents that are happening in our borough – thinking particularly of course of last month’s awful killing in Pinner. The police have now charged a man with that murder.

We want to assure all of you that community safety is our top priority. We continue to work with police and the voluntary sector, every day, not just to fight crime but to address its underlying causes – not least ignorance, deprivation and exploitation. Like our residents – we hope soon that the government will see reason and allocate proper funding for this fight.