Man who filmed burning Grenfell Tower model cleared of malicious communication

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Man cleared over burning Grenfell effigy model film

Paul Bussetti, 47, was accused of sending a “grossly offensive” video on WhatsApp and causing footage to be uploaded to YouTube.

Paul Bussetti  the man who filmed a cardboard effigy of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire has been cleared of posting “grossly offensive” material.

Paul Bussetti shared the video which he took at a party in south London on WhatsApp, and it was subsequently posted on YouTube, the court heard.

Prosecutors claimed it was racist but he said the figures on the model were meant to represent him and his friends.

The 47-year-old was found not guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Last-minute disclosure of evidence revealed on Thursday afternoon that a second video of the incident had been taken by someone else.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: “I cannot be sure the video relied on by the Crown is the one taken by the defendant.”

The clip of the cardboard building, which had “Grenfell Tower” written on it, was recorded at a party attended by about 30 people on 3 November last year.

It sparked outrage online and a relative of one of the 72 people who died in the blaze on 14 June 2017 said it was “revolting”.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard Paul Bussetti, 46, from South Norwood, south London, told police it was a “stupid moment”.

The “grossly offensive” clip was shared on WhatsApp and uploaded to YouTube.

Mr Bussetti denies sending or causing grossly offensive material to be sent via a public communications network.

Prosecutor Philip Stott said someone else took the model, which had Grenfell Tower written on the side of it, to the bonfire on 3 November.

The court heard it featured characters “hanging off it as though they were falling”.

A comment can be heard on the video referring to a “ninja”, which Mr Stott says the prosecution believes refers to a figure on the tower which is dressed in black and wearing a niqab.

‘Revolting’

Mr Bussetti voluntarily attended Croydon police station two days after the bonfire, by which time the footage had been widely shared online.

In a police interview played in court, he said it was “one of those stupid moments”.

“vile”

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.

The defence team argued it is was not clear whether the footage which ended up on the news and online was that taken by Mr Bussetti.

His lawyer Mark Summers QC said: “We have very, very serious doubts about the integrity of this prosecution.”

Ms Arbuthnot said:

“I am just appalled at the disclosure in this case.”

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