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  • Manchester Arena attack inquiry

image copyrightFamily handoutsimage captionTwenty-two people were killed in the May 2017 bombing

Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat on the night of the atrocity by those in charge of security, a public inquiry into the 2017 attack has found.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders found there were missed opportunities to prevent the "devastating impact".

He said it was likely Abedi would have detonated his device if confronted but "the loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less".

Twenty-two people died in the bombing.

Hundreds more were also injured when Manchester-born Abedi, who was of Libyan descent, walked across the foyer of the arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert and detonated the bomb at 22:31 BST on 22 May 2017.

  • What is the Manchester Arena inquiry?
  • Manchester attack: Who were the victims?
  • The 'unforgivable' security mistakes

The first of three reports published by the public inquiry, which began in September 2020, has levelled criticism at British Transport Police (BTP), the arena operators SMG, and their contracted security providers, Showsec.

Paul Hett, father of 29-year-old Martyn Hett, who died in the bombing, said it had been heartbreaking "to find that Martin had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time".

He said the organisations involved had a duty of care to protect his son and the other victims, adding: "This inquiry has rightly found that we were failed by them on every level."

"This atrocity should and could have been prevented, and 22 people would not have lost their lives," he said.

media captionPaul Price and his partner, Elaine McIver, were at the Manchester Arena when the bomb exploded

Sir John said two teenage stewards did not react "as robustly and effectively as they should have" when a member of the public, Christopher Wild, raised his concerns about the bomber.

He said Mr Wild was "fobbed off".

The inquiry chairman called this "the most striking missed opportunity".

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionThe public inquiry into the bombing has heard evidence on security and the emergency response

Other key findings:

  • There was no BTP officer present in the foyer and "no satisfactory explanation" for this.
  • BTP officers bear personal responsibility for failing to follow clear instructions
  • Salman Abedi hid in a CCTV blindspot which had existed for a number of years. If addressed the attack could have been "disrupted or deterred or fewer people killed"
  • Counter terrorism training given to stewards was criticised and risk assessments by SMG and Showsec were said to be inadequate

A range of improvements have been recommended.

Most notably Sir John has supported the introduction of new "Protect Duty" legislation to place a duty on venue operators to consider and cater for the risk of terrorist attack.

image copyrightGMPimage captionCCTV caught Salman Abedi in the arena foyer just seconds before he blew himself up

Figen Murray has been campaigning for "Martyn's Law" in memory of her son Martyn Hett.

An 18-week consultation into the legislation was launched in February.

She said the report made it clear that "venue security needs to be improved to help prevent further terror attacks".

"We should not have to live in fear and I am determined to make this law a reality," she added.

June Tron, mother of 32-year-old Philip Tron who also died, said she hoped laws would be introduced "to ensure people can go to a concert or a big public event in confidence that they have the best possible protection".

"It has become clear that was not the case for Philip, 21 others who also lost their lives, and the hundreds more who were seriously injured or left traumatised by what happened," she said.

She said it was "very hard to accept and understand" that "Philip and everybody else in the vicinity of the arena that night was placed at risk".

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