Suspect arrested over ‘transphobic arson attack’ in Whitechapel

The scene of the fire in April on Whitechapel High Street  (London Fire Brigade)
The scene of the fire in April on Whitechapel High Street (London Fire Brigade)

A person has been arrested and bailed over an alleged transphobic arson attack in London’s East End earlier this year.

The inhabitants were said to have escaped the blaze, which ripped through an apartment on the fifth floor of a six-storey block on Whitechapel High Street on April 14, with just minutes to spare.

The flat’s residents, two trans women and a gay man, fled the “terrifying” fire which broke out at around 6.25am, which occurred as two of them slept.

None were injured, but the property was left seriously damaged in the fire, which took four fire engines and 25 firefighters to get under control.

A hate crime investigation was launched, with police treating it as transphobic in nature.

In an update on the case, Detective Inspector John Macleod of Tower Hamlets Police said: “This incident was declared as a hate crime as a perceived attack on the LQBTQI+ community and CID office assumed responsibility for the investigation.

“Detectives identified a suspect and the individual was arrested on the 16th August 2023.

“This suspect has been interviewed and bailed to return to an East London Police Station at a future date pending further investigative enquiries.

“The MPS are committed to ensuring the LQBTQI+ community get a service they can have confidence in.”

A GoFundMe page launched in the wake of the alleged arson attack to help the three flatmates replace their lost belongings and secure alternative accommodation raised nearly £19,200.

In a message on the page, friends of the affected residents said they were “thankful for the outpouring of love from their community, family and friends at this trying time.”