City official charged with arson after Christmas tree fire

As Christmas trees go, it was a more combustible variety than most.

A woman working as a member services administrator at the City of London corporation’s culture development department has been charged with arson after a fire that destroyed a clubhouse at a golf course that was meant to provide shelter for a number of homeless men.

Cherie Webb, 45, appeared at the city’s City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court Friday morning after allegedly starting the fire at the Beetham Towers clubhouse, where it has been reported that four men were being housed. She has since been fired from her position.

According to a statement released by the mayor’s office, the fire burned a residential unit that housed four men, but caused no serious damage to the clubhouse itself.

In January, the City of London issued eviction notices for about 80 men who are living in a car park adjacent to the clubhouse. Webb reportedly paid $1,000 a month in rent, though it has been suggested she did not provide proof of employment. That case is still in the courts, though an unnamed official from the City of London told the Guardian that they would give up using the site for housing.

“We do not plan to provide any further temporary housing on the site,” the official said.

According to a photo taken by the Telegraph, an unidentified employee from the City of London said a man and a woman were seen walking away from the clubhouse and the police were called soon after.

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