Boy, 16, denies arson and assaulting police officer after fire at London Oratory School

Fire engines and police officers at the scene on Seagrave Road in Fulham, west London. Credit: PA

A 16-year-old boy has denied setting fire to a prestigious 160-year-old Catholic school in west London. The defendant, who cannot be named because of his age, is accused of arson with intent to endanger life. He is alleged to have started a blaze at The London Oratory School on Wednesday morning.

Ten fire engines and about 70 firefighters rushed to the scene in Seagrave Road, Fulham, and managed to get the fire under control.

As well as denying arson, appearing at Highbury Corner Youth Court today, the boy also pleaded not guilty to assaulting a police officer that day and having a fake ID.

Police said that after receiving a call at 10am and arriving at the scene, officers found smoke and orange flames in the atrium and a “major fire incident” was declared.

A nearby shopping centre and some residential addresses had to be evacuated as a precaution, while locals were urged to keep their windows closed.

No injuries were reported following the blaze. Credit: PA

No injuries were reported, but part of an atrium in the four-storey building was damaged by fire, the London Fire Brigade said.

The defendant, from 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. The defendant, 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.

A 'major fire incident' was declared following Wednesday morning's incident. Credit: PA

He was also banned from entering Hammersmith and Fulham. The defendant will next appear at Wimbledon Youth Court on January 23. London Oratory School, which admits boys aged seven to 18 and girls aged 16 to 18, is a short distance from the Chelsea stadium, Stamford Bridge. The school’s alumni include actor Simon Callow, trade unionist Mick Whelan, as well as the children of the former prime minister Sir Tony Blair, Harriet Harman and former deputy prime minister, Sir Nick Clegg.

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