United Kingdom

Manchester bombing inquiry will slam 'flagrant disregard' for safety of fans

A tough inspection regime should be introduced to ensure public venues implement anti-terror security measures, the chairman of the Manchester Arena bomb inquiry is expected to say today.

Sir John Saunders is due to deliver the first of three reports, which will focus on the security arrangements at the 21,000-seat venue at the time of the May 2017 suicide attack. 

The other two – which will address the emergency services response and whether the attack could have been prevented – will be delivered over the next 12 months.

The retired High Court judge is expected to criticise the multinational firm in charge of running the arena, its security contractor and British Transport Police. 

Inspections should be introduced to ensure public venues implement anti-terror security, Sir John Saunders is expected to say. Pictured: Tributes following Manchester Arena bombing

Lawyers representing the 22 men, women and children who died at an Ariana Grande gig have accused arena operator SMG Europe of having a 'flagrant disregard' for the safety of concert-goers.

The inquiry has heard there was no manager with anti-terrorism expertise, and security contractor Showsec employed teenage stewards, who were paid the minimum wage and skipped through their inadequate online anti-terror training in minutes.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, was also allowed to hide on a mezzanine level, in a CCTV blindspot, for more than an hour before the 10.31pm detonation – even though it was supposed to be checked before the end of each concert.

British Transport Police officers also disobeyed orders to stagger meal breaks and left the foyer with no one on patrol for 40 minutes before Abedi exploded his bomb.

A member of the public confronted Abedi and reported his strange behaviour, but the inquiry heard that an 18-year-old steward failed to report it to the control room.

Multi-million-pound compensation claims from relatives of those who died and hundreds of people injured are likely to follow Sir John's first inquiry report.

Lawyers representing the victims who died at an Ariana Grande gig at Manchester Arena (pictured) accused arena operator SMG Europe of 'disregarding' the safety of concert-goers

A four-month consultation into new legislation which would force businesses open to the public to seek advice on counter-terrorism and introduce measures, ends next month. 

The laws will make it a legal requirement for venue operators to take steps to protect the public or face big fines.

But implementing such a law is likely to be problematic. 

The Government has identified 650,000 'publicly accessible locations' and there is no public capability to provide advice to venues on that scale or check it has been put in place.

Sir John is likely to recommend venues pay for their own private-sector advice and for an audit of the measures.

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