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November 23rd 2019

Inquests

Delays over police statements threaten to ‘undermine confidence’ in Manchester Bombing investigation for victims’ families

Dr Neil Hudgell

Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

Delays over police statements threaten to ‘undermine confidence’ in Manchester Bombing investigation for victims’ families

Lawyers representing families of some of the Manchester Arena bombing victims say delays in Greater Manchester Police (GMP) providing statements to assist the Public Inquiry ‘threatens to undermine confidence’ in the investigation.

Lawyers representing families of some of the Manchester Arena bombing victims say delays in Greater Manchester Police (GMP) providing statements to assist the Public Inquiry ‘threatens to undermine confidence’ in the investigation.

A preliminary Public Inquiry hearing into the attack, which killed 22 people in May 2017, was held at Manchester Town Hall yesterday and heard that police statements which were due to have been provided in August are still outstanding.

The hearing was told that of the 10 statements requested from GMP in April, four remain outstanding to date.

Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, attended the hearing representing two families of victims killed in the attack, and says it was a disappointing day for them.

“We have families here who have now waited more than two years to get to this stage, and we are still five months away from the inquiry starting,” he said.

“Now they are worried about the possibility of further delay because Greater Manchester Police have failed to do what they have been asked and get statements together to be considered.

“Only a couple of months ago they had to digest the news that inquests will now not be held into the deaths of their loved ones, and that the matter would be subject to a public inquiry so that some evidence could be considered in private sessions.

“That was an emotive situation and a big change, but they have shown great understanding and acceptance of the need to protect national security in the future.

“The sad, harsh reality is that whatever happens now, these families can never get their loved ones back. They will also never be able to forget the terrifying and horrific circumstances of their deaths.

“That is why this process is so vital to them and they need to feel they can completely trust the process and all involved to feel justice can be achieved.

“That means they need to feel assured that all organisations involved in the protection of the public are fully questioned about the roles they played prior to the attack, and on the night itself, and that they are all fully open and transparent at all times, in order to ensure lessons are learned and future similar attacks can be prevented.

“They want no further delays given we are already looking at it being close to three years after the attack by the time this inquiry is due to start.

“We were pleased to hear Sir John Saunders state that he remains committed to a start date next April and we have full confidence in him to ensue the full, fair and fearless investigation which has been promised is delivered.

“That is what not only the families who lost loved ones deserve, but also what people across the UK need and deserve to ensure they are better protected against acts such as this in the future.”

Peter Weatherby QC, of Garden Court North Chambers, is instructed by Hudgell Solicitors described the delay as a ‘sorry tale’ , telling the hearing it was ‘frankly not good enough’.

He added: “One might have thought the Chief Constable would have sent down the line, the clearest of instructions that the response in respect of this Manchester bombing, had to be done to the highest possible level.”

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