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September 7th 2020

Civil Liberties

Manchester Arena Inquiry: ‘No stone left unturned’ in process to ‘establish truth’

Terry Wilcox

Terry Wilcox

Solicitor, Civil Liberties

Manchester Arena Inquiry: ‘No stone left unturned’ in process to ‘establish truth’

Solicitor Terry Wilcox, of Hudgell Solicitors, is representing the families of two people killed in the Manchester Arena bombing at the ongoing Public Inquiry.

Solicitor Terry Wilcox, of Hudgell Solicitors, is representing the families of two people killed in the Manchester Arena bombing at the ongoing Public Inquiry.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry will leave ‘no stone unturned’ in seeking to ‘establish the truth’ about the bombing which claimed 22 lives in May 2017.

Speaking at the first morning of the hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court today, Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, firstly read out the names of those who lost their lives in the attack, before a minute’s silence was observed.

He said the hearing will look into how the attack came to happen, whether it could have been prevented, whether the emergency response to the attack was adequate, and what steps may be taken in future to prevent a recurrence.

He added that it would seek to establish if there were ‘problems or gaps’ in the security set up between the venue operators, security teams and the police.

Mr Greaney said there is evidence to suggest that ‘at least once, and possibly on two occasions’ someone drew attention to bomber Salman Abedi acting suspiciously on the night of the attack at the arena.

The hearing was told that Abedi had been captured on CCTV at the venue at 6.31pm on the night – four hours before the attack.

He left and retuned by tram at 8.30pm before detonating the bomb as people left the concert at 10.31pm.

Bomber caught on CCTV footage at Arena in three out of four days prior to the attack.

CCTV footage was played showing Abedi at Manchester Arena four days before the attack, on May 18, when he entered The City Room – one of the main entrance areas to the arena and where he detonated the bomb on the night of the attack.

Mr Greaney said that although his behaviour would not necessarily have been identified as suspicious at the time, he was observing queues into the Arena and that security experts believe this was ‘an initial general reconnaissance’ which he ‘used to identify CCTV locations and the ingress and egress routes from the Arena’.

Abedi was again caught on CCTV close to the arena the following day, and was back again on May 21, a day before the attack, when he again entered the City Room area, sitting down on the stairs to the mezzanine level talking on his mobile phone.

Mr Greaney said that witnesses who were at the Arena to pick up children on the night of the attack observed a man matching Abedi’s description and ‘thought he looked suspicious’.

One remembers seeing someone with a large backpack sitting down and ‘believed that he was praying’.

Greaney said and another witness said he raised his concerns with an Arena security guard in relation to a man he had seen and questioned over having a backpack, but felt “fobbed off”.

Mr Greaney said the inquiry would examine whether the security employees ‘could have done more’.

Inquiry is an ‘exercise in establishing the truth’

Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, said that as well as the 22 people killed, many others also ‘suffered life-changing injuries’ and that many survivors will ‘never recover from the effects of what they saw’.

“This is an exercise in establishing the truth. If I conclude things went wrong then I shall say so but we are not looking for scapegoats. We are searching for the truth,” he said.

Solicitor Terry Wilcox, of Hudgell Solicitors, is attending in Manchester, representing the families of two people who died as a result of the attack in May 2017.

The inquiry will hear how each of the individual victims died and hear personal evidence about them from their families.

Public inquiries cannot determine criminal or civil liability, but do have the capacity to highlight where failings have occurred.

The inquiry had to wait until Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, was tried in court for helping to plan the attacks, after being extradited from Libya last year. He was convicted and sentenced to at least 55 years in prison in August.

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