Mayor of Newham Statement - Jacobs House

Following the tragic death of 5-year old Aalim Makail Jibril

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE:

I know that many residents, like me, feel ongoing anguish and pain about the heart-breaking death of five-year-old Aalim Makail Jibril, who in a terrible moment lost his precious life after falling from Jacobs House in Plaistow last Thursday morning.

I can’t begin to imagine what Aalim’s parents must be going through and when I met Aalim’s mum at the weekend I had no words beyond expressing deep sorrow as we held each other in comfort. I did say that she and her family would be supported in this time of grief by the Council; and I was also seeking answers to questions that she and her family are rightly asking as are many local residents.

There is sadness, grief and numbness in the community who have rallied around to provide the family and each other comfort as well as fundraising for the family. I also know from speaking to families and local residents that there is disbelief as well as anger about how this could have come about and the circumstances surrounding the death of a child who lived in a council high-rise.

Those who I have spoken to and been contacted by are traumatised by what has happened. Especially those who went to assist in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and those who are parents to their own precious young ones. I know they are worried for the safety of their own families and the impact Aalim’s death will have on the wellbeing of the local community, especially the children who knew him. 

Last Friday I made a statement about the immediate steps that the Council had started as it investigates this awful tragedy. I wanted to share with you today an update about that investigation which is seeking to establish all the facts about what happened. 

The investigation is being led by the Council’s internal audit team, which is legally required to be independent, and they will conclude their investigation by the 12 June 2024 after which a further update will be provided by the Council.

The internal audit was commissioned by Corporate Director Paul Kitson, who is part of the most senior officer leadership here at the Council. The internal audit team is presently looking at a number of issues as part of its investigation including: the management of the property in question in the past two years; an examination of records of all correspondence concerning windows specifically, as well repairs and maintenance of the flat by the Council.

They will also examine any complaints received from Aalim’s family and review interaction with the family by the Council’s housing services department. Additionally, the internal audit team will consider all contractors used; assess their qualifications and relevant safety accreditations; and examine whether the housing services department followed the Council’s policies of inspecting and assessing all work carried out after they were completed.

You can read the full statement from Paul Kitson here, and be assured that once the independent internal audit team competes it’s investigation, the Council rightly intends to make the findings public. Prior to any publication, Aalim’s family will be given a copy of the report.

All the while, the Council will continue to support Aalim’s devastated family, as well as other families living in Jacobs House and the local community as there is a profound sense of grief being experienced by so many and we rightly need to support them in this moment.

As you expect, I will continue to ask questions of the Council following the heartbreaking loss of Aalim’s life that no one would ever have wished for. For Aalim and in his memory, for his family and to ensure that any lessons that may need to be learnt by the Council will be. For me as the Mayor of Newham, truth and justice must and will prevail as I advocate on behalf of all residents.

Tonight at our Annual Council Meeting, with agreement from Aalim’s family, we will be paying our respects as a council, with a minute’s silence. To remember Aalim, an angel, who before last Thursday morning, had the promise of life ahead of him.

Published: 23 May 2024