Sony Warehouse Burned To Ground

Sony’s main disc distribution warehouse in the U.K. was burned to the ground as riots that started in Tottenham, London, Aug. 6 spread throughout the capital and other major cities.

The friendly international soccer match against Holland scheduled for London’s Wembley Stadium Aug. 10 was canceled as civil unrest in the city escalated to the point that police were at full stretch.

The Sony building at Enfield, north London, was the company’s main distribution hub for optical discs. Its destruction reportedly leaves 700 out of work.

The warehouse is one of six Sony has in Europe. It is operated by subsidiary Sony DADC and handles distribution of Sony Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CD blank media, as well as movies and games for the U.K.

A Sony spokesman said no staff had been injured and the cause of the fire was being investigated.

BBC Radio carried eye-witness reports that youths carrying petrol bombs approached the building shortly before it was looted and torched.

The British government has said rioters who fought police, looted shops and set fire to buildings Aug. 8 were opportunistic criminals and played down fears the disturbances would affect preparations for next year’s Olympic Games.

The day after the riots spread across the city to Enfield, Hackney, Lewisham, Walthamstow, East Ham and Croydon, London Mayor Boris Johnson said he hoped the city would “have a fantastic Olympics no matter what happened last night.”

The police, who will be in charge of security for the 2012 Olympics, what’s expected to be Britain’s biggest peacetime police operation, have dismissed suggestions they failed to see trouble coming or were badly prepared.

They say they’re already in talks with the organisers of Notting Hill Carnival (Aug. 28-29), amid fears that the annual festival set up by the West Indian community may become another flashpoint.

So far, the Metropolitan Police have arrested nearly 350 people in the London riots, which have caused what look like smaller copycat disturbances in other cities including Birmingham, Nottingham and Liverpool.

The trouble began during the evening of Aug. 6 in the Tottenham district, apparently as a protest against the way police dealt with a local shooting a couple of days earlier.

Tottenham Hotspur soccer club says it still intends to play the opening match of its Premier League season at its White Hart Lane ground Aug. 13, although the ticket office was one of the several nearby buildings severely damaged.

The club, which is pursuing plans to build a new stadium on the site as well as carrying on a legal fight to take over the new Olympic Stadium after the Games, has offered to help with the area’s redevelopment.