Labour MP searching for missing artist calls Grenfell Tower fire ‘corporate manslaughter’

David Lammy says he has heard nothing from Khadija Saye who lived on the 20th floor of the West London tower block


Khadija Saye, a 24-year-old artist whose works are currently on show at the Venice Biennale, is missing after the blaze in Grenfell Tower in West London that killed at least 12 people. Saye is believed to have been living in a flat on the 20th floor with her mother, Mary Mendy.

The Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, whose artist wife mentored and employed Saye, today described the young photographer as a “wonderful artist” with “an amazing career ahead of her”. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Lammy said he had not heard anything from Saye since the blaze ripped through the tower in the early hours of Wednesday morning. “As the seconds pass we grow more sad and bleak,” he said.

Lammy said the Grenfell Tower fire amounted to “corporate manslaughter” and called for arrests to be made: “This is the richest borough in our country, treating its citizens in this way and we should call it what it is, it’s corporate manslaughter. There should be arrests made, frankly. It’s an outrage.” 

Lammy said he “hoped and prayed” Saye and her mother would still be found alive. “We’ve been calling the hospitals, but I know from my own experience after the London riots people will be in hospital with no belongings, many of them will be unconscious,” he said. “So of course we hope and pray that she is amongst them and not perished in that building as I suspect hundreds will have done at the end of this count.”

Saye’s photographic series, Dwelling: in this space we breathe, is currently on show in the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The wet plate collodion tintypes explore the migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices. 

Saye Tweeted in May: “It's been a real journey, tears shed, highs and lows, but mama, I'm an artist exhibiting at the Venice Biennale and the blessings are abundant!”