Man arrested after making ‘allegedly antisemitic’ threats close to scene of Clapton house fire

Sixty firefighters tackled the fire on Newick Road

Police have launched an investigation into a house fire in Clapton yesterday to examine if it was an antisemitic hate crime.

The Metropolitan Police said a man in his sixties was arrested near the scene on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

The man made threatening and “allegedly antisemitic” comments when detained.

Officers and firefighters had responded to reports at around lunchtime of a fire at an end-of-terrace house on Newick Road.

The London Fire Brigade said eight fire engines and about 60 firefighters tackled the blaze, which destroyed the ground and first floors of the three-storey house.

The force said it believes the fire was started deliberately.

Five people were injured and are being treated in hospital, but none are in a life-threatening condition.

One of them was the suspect, who sustained minor injuries.

Hackney police chief James Conway said: “On his arrest, the man made a number of threatening comments, some of which were allegedly antisemitic.”

The religion of the people inside the house in question is not yet known.

“We take instances of antisemitism extremely seriously and for this reason we’re investigating the incident as a potential hate crime,” Conway added.

“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 [neighbourhood watch group] to answer their questions and listen to their views.

“While 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.”

A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism and provides security advice to the Jewish community, told the LDRS: “This appears to be a very serious incident and we appreciate the police’s swift action.

“We have been in contact with police since yesterday and we will be working with them to provide reassurance to the local Jewish community over the coming days.”

Conway said the Met has a robust policing plan in place, including increased patrols and enhanced visibility, as Jewish communities begin celebrations for the Purim holiday period.