Manchester Terror Attack – The father of one of the victims has said that the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena bomb were “failed on every level” by organizations criticizing him in a public investigation report.
The chairman of the investigation said the bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a security threat.
Sir John Saunders found that opportunities to prevent or reduce the “catastrophic impact” were missed.
Manchester Terror Attack
Martin Heit’s father said the attack “should have been stopped”.
Paul Heit, whose 29-year-old son died in the bombing, said it was “heartbreaking to find out that Martin was in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds more were injured in the bombing when Manchester-born Abedi, who was of Libyan descent, walked into the foyer of the arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert and detonated the bomb at 22:31 BST. gave. on 22 May 2017.
The first of three reports published by the public inquiry, which began in September 2020, has drawn criticism at the British Transport Police (BTP), arena operator SMG, and their contracted security providers, Showsec.
Mr Hate said the organizations involved had a duty of care to protect his son and other victims, adding: “This investigation has rightly found that we have failed on every level by them.”
“This atrocity should have been stopped and could have been stopped, and 22 people would not have lost their lives,” he said.
Sir John said it was likely that Abedi would have detonated his equipment, but “the likelihood of loss of life and injury is very small”.
On the night of the arena bombing, the national terror threat was classified as serious, meaning there was a high probability of a terrorist attack.
The investigation chair said: “While the threat was not specific to a particular compound, the arena was always a potential target for a terrorist.”
He added: “Everyone concerned with the security in the arena should have done their job in the knowledge that a terrorist attack could happen that night.
“They weren’t. No one believed this could happen to them.”
Sir John found that when a member of the public, Christopher Wilde, raised his concerns about the bomber, the two teenage stewards “did not respond as strongly and effectively as they should have”.
The inquiry chairman called it “the most striking missed opportunity”.
Other key findings:
- There was no BTP officer present in the foyer and “no satisfactory explanation” for this
- Two on-duty officers took a break of more than two hours, including a 10-mile round trip to buy kebabs
- Abedi hid in a CCTV blindspot which had existed for years. If addressed the attack could have been “disrupted or deterred or fewer people killed”
- Showsec was criticised for not ensuring staff properly checked the mezzanine where Abedi hid
- Counter-terrorism training given to stewards was a “significant failure”
- Risk assessments by SMG and Showsec were “inadequate”
- SMG and Showsec “failed to take steps to improve security at the arena that they should have taken”
A range of improvements have been recommended.
Most notably Sir John has supported the introduction of a new “protect duty” law to place a duty on site operators to consider and fulfill the risk of a terroristic attack.
Feigen Murray is campaigning for the law, also known as “Martin’s Law”, in memory of her son, Martin Het.
She said the report made it clear that “site security needs to be improved to help prevent further terrorist attacks”.
“We should not live in fear and I am committed to making this law a reality,” he said.
This report makes difficult reading for the families of the 22 people who were murdered at the Manchester Arena.
But everyone I have spoken to has said how important it is, and how valuable they find it.
Nothing in the 200-page document can bring their loved ones back but there is a united feeling they do not want anyone else to suffer as they have.
And so, they are committed to this inquiry laying out failures and suggesting ways to improve things for the future.
The families I have spoken to know that there is still a long road ahead and are particularly dreading the section of the inquiry which will examine how the 22 died and whether any of them could have been saved.
They know that there will be many more painful days like this one before they reach the end of the process.
June Tron, the mother of 32-year-old Philip Tron, who also died, said she hoped laws would be introduced “to ensure that people can go to a concert or a large public event with confidence.” that they have the best possible security”.
“It has become clear that the same was not the case for Philip, the 21 others who lost their lives, and hundreds of others who were seriously injured or left traumatized by what happened,” she said.
She said that it was “very hard to accept and understand” that “Philip and everyone around the arena that night was put at risk”.
Solicitor Neil Hudgel, who represents some of the bereaved families, said the collective failures made the arena a target of terrorists, leaving thousands of young people “open and vulnerable”.
“There was no security around the venue and the event,” he said.
Arena operator SMG said it would “continuously challenge ourselves to be better”.
SMG added that, during the inquiry, experts “did not see evidence that the security operation in place at Manchester Arena was out of step with the operations being used at other comparable venues” but added that “this doesn’t give us any comfort”.
“Our guests came to the arena to enjoy a show but were met with a horrific tragedy. For that we are truly sorry,” a spokesperson added.
Security firm Showsec said it had “learnt lessons” and improvements were “already in place” but it would now “take time to consider both Sir John’s criticisms and his recommendations before responding as he has requested”.
BTP Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said the force had been “reviewing procedures, operational planning and training” since the attack and was “committed to ensuring our staff are supported and prepared to undertake the roles they are required to do”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government continued “to take action in response to the terrorist threat” and had launched a consultation on the proposed Protect Duty.
She said the government would “carefully consider” the report and would respond fully in due course.