Girl, 17, dies of suspected drug overdose at Leeds festival

Leeds Festival at Bramham Park.

Leeds Festival at Bramham Park. Photograph: Katja Ogrin/Redferns

A 17-year-old girl from Oldham has died of a suspected drugs overdose at Leeds festival, after police said potentially lethal-strength ecstasy pills were being sold on site. West Yorkshire police said a 17-year-old boy, also from Oldham, had been detained on suspicion of supplying controlled drugs.

Officers were called to the Bramham Park site after a report that the girl had died shortly after 3.40am on Saturday.

Leeds festival’s police commander, Supt Matt Davison, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the girl who has died. We have family liaison officers in place supporting them and they have asked that their privacy is respected at this extremely difficult time.

“While the exact cause of her death is yet to be established, the information we have indicates that she has taken a combination of drugs. This is a tragic incident and I hope serves as a timely reminder to others of the risk of taking illegal substances, particularly when mixing different types of drugs and drinking alcohol.

“If anyone has any concerns for either themselves or others at the festival, I would urge them to contact staff on site or seek urgent medical assistance.”

The Reading and Leeds festival tweeted on Saturday afternoon: “Mixing drugs with other drugs/alcohol/prescription drugs can be very dangerous.” The festival posted a fact sheet on drug policy.

Melvin Benn of Festival Republic, which runs the event, said: “To say we are deeply saddened about this tragedy is an understatement. At this point, we implore the media to respect the family’s wishes of privacy at this devastating time. The West Yorkshire police have taken action against those that may have supplied the drugs, and we will continue to work with them as usual.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind anyone attending Reading and Leeds Festival that there is no safe way to take prohibited drugs and there are no safe prohibited drugs.”

A day earlier, the West Yorkshire police posted a warning about “dangerous, high-strength pills” in circulation at the site on a Twitter account named LeedsFestPolice. “Donkey Kong, Trump and Skype pills have been found in circulation onsite. These are very dangerous, high-strength pills, up to three times the normal average adult dose.”

The warning was reposted on the Leeds festival website liveblog, but not circulated by the Reading and Leeds official Twitter account.

Festival Republic had displayed notices on screens next to the main stage at the festivals saying drugs were dangerous and prohibited, alongside versions of infographics made by drug safety testing service the Loop warning about a number of MDMA pills sold at UK festivals this year.

These images omitted information from the Loop regarding the pills’ strength.

Behind-the-scenes drug testing to provide information about the nature of the drugs in circulation at the festival was also understood to have been in operation.

In 2016, 17-year-old Lewis Haunch from Leigh in Greater Manchester died after taking drugs at Leeds festival.


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