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June 17th 2021

Public Inquiry

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Lawyers call for prosecutions in relation to ‘serious shortcomings’ in security

Terry Wilcox

Terry Wilcox

Associate, Civil Liberties

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Lawyers call for prosecutions in relation to ‘serious shortcomings’ in security

The Manchester Arena Inquiry has today released the first volume of its report into the 2017 bombing which killed 22 people in which Chairman Sir John Saunders concludes there were a series of “serious shortcomings” in security measures.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry has today released the first volume of its report into the 2017 bombing which killed 22 people in which Chairman Sir John Saunders concludes there were a series of “serious shortcomings” in security measures.

The retired High Court judge said: “The security arrangements for the Manchester Arena should have prevented or minimised the devastating impact of the attack. They failed to do so.

“I have concluded that there were serious shortcomings in the security provided by those organisations which had responsibility for it and also failings and mistakes made by some individuals.”

The chairman said current National Counter Terrorism Protect arrangements were not fit for purpose, and the voluntary nature of the Counter Terrorism Security Advisors system renders it ‘wholly inadequate for protecting the public’.

In a series of recommendations, he supported calls for a statutory approach which mandates all “reasonably practicable” protective security measures, in particular by corporations running venues with large crowds.

Legal teams instructed by Hudgell Solicitors had argued on behalf of families that the current arrangements are a systemic breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, requiring urgent remedial action.

In his report, serious failings were identified on the part of venue operators SMG, security firm Showsec and British Transport Police.

The chairman cited failures relating to:

  • Implementing proper security;
  • The training of security guards;
  • Recruitment of appropriate staff;
  • Planning for events;
  • Event risk assessments;
  • Monitoring of the site;
  • CCTV monitoring;
  • The failure to identify the blind spot in which Salman Abedi hid prior to detonating his bomb.

Legal teams from Hudgell Solicitors – who were represented at the Manchester Arena Inquiry by James Camidge, Eliza Hudgell, Terry Wilcox, Vicky Richardson and chief executive Rachel Di Clemente (pictured) – and Broudie Jackson Canter Solicitors, issued a joint statement following the findings.

It read: “The report published today amounts to a devastating narrative setting out multiple failures and missed opportunities by a number of organisations.

“At the start of these proceedings, the prosecuting authorities stated that they would keep the evidence against relevant organisations under review.

“Four years on from the bombing outrage, and with publication of the report, prosecutions should be commenced without further delay. Potential charges include corporate manslaughter and offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.”

National statutory approach against terrorism could have prevented attack

Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, said had the Government introduced laws making it mandatory for venue operators to meet set standards with regards to counter-terrorism measures, the tragedy could have been avoided.

In particular he said it would have ‘reduced the room for individual failings by stewards’, as the inquiry heard how reports of Abedi’s suspicious actions were reported by a member of the public 15 minutes prior to detonating the bomb, but were not escalated and actioned upon.

He said:  “If the shortcomings in the UK legal and regulatory framework were not already apparent from earlier attacks in this country, the wave of attacks across Europe including the Charlie Hebdo, Stade de France and Bataclan attacks in 2015 should have left no doubt that existing provisions were inadequate.

“An adequate legal framework would have required SMG and Showsec to have employed or contracted in expert counter-terrorism advice to assess the risk of terrorism and to design and implement a plan for the Arena with appropriate mitigation measures. They would have had to comply through appropriate inspection and enforcement.

“Individual failings by SMG and Showsec managers with regards risk assessment, security, monitoring and patrolling systems, and supervision would have been addressed by competent and adequately-resourced counter-terrorism expertise.

“Having properly audited and assessed systems in place would also have reduced the room for individual failings by stewards, or the lack of communication with British Transport Police, mistakes which it has been established ultimately contributed to the significant loss of life.”

June Tron, mother of Philip, is interviewed after the Manchester Arena Inquiry findings were published
June Tron, mother of Philip, is interviewed after the Manchester Arena Inquiry findings were published

Hudgell Solicitors also represent the families of Philip Tron, 32, from Gateshead, and Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, of north Leeds, who both died as a result of the attack.

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