Burning Grenfell Tower model was joke among friends, accused claims | UK News
The burning of a cardboard Grenfell Tower model on a bonfire was a joke about a group of friends and not victims of the tragedy, the man who filmed the footage claims.
Paul Bussetti said the video, taken at an annual party held by a friend, was considered “funny” by those involved and was not intended to be about those who lost their lives.
A total of 72 people died in the fire in 2017.
Bussetti, 47, is accused of sending a “grossly offensive” video on WhatsApp and causing footage of a “menacing character” to be uploaded to YouTube.
Giving evidence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the married father-of-two told said it was “certainly not the case” that the figures in the cardboard model, which had “Grenfell Tower” written on it, were meant to be those who died.
Footage of the cardboard model being set alight in a garden caused outrage when it was shared online.
It was branded “vile” by a relative of one of the victims.
People are heard laughing in the video, which was played to the court, as the model was burned in front of a group of around 30 people at the gathering.
Prosecutor Philip Stott told the trial that a comment in the footage referring to a “ninja” is believed to have been about a figure in the tower which was all in black and wearing what looked like a niqab.
The prosecution says the footage, showing black and brown cardboard figures inside the building and some hanging off as if falling from it, is racist.
But Bussetti claimed the characters were jokey images of his associates, including the black-clad figure, which he said was meant to represent his friend’s son who did martial arts and had been referred to during his childhood as “ninja”.
His lawyer Mark Summers QC asked him: “Who were the subjects of the tower joke?”
Bussetti answered: “The majority of people that were at the party.”
Asked what the joke was about, he replied: “About us.”
Bussetti said he shared the footage with two WhatsApp groups totalling around 20 people because one featured many of those at the party and the other had people who knew his friends.
Insisting he had intended the footage to go no further than those groups, he told the court: “It was funny. Everyone knew it was funny.”
Bussetti, from South Norwood, south east London, said he himself had featured in the tower model, sporting big ears which had earned him the nickname “Pluggy”, but it was not visible in the video as he had filmed the other side of the model.
Rejecting any suggestion that those in the model were meant to be the people who had died he said: “That’s the media and the TV putting their stuff to it that was totally wrong.”