Manchester Arena bombing ‘WAS preventable’ but there was a ‘perfect storm of failures’, ex-terror cop claims – as ‘more than 150 survivors prepare legal action’ ahead of report set to blast emergency service response to 2017 attack
- The terror attack in May 2017 took lives of 22 people and injured hundreds more
- But it took paramedics 43 minutes to reach the venue amid miscommunication
- Firefighters did not arrive until last injured victim had been rushed to hospital
- Public inquiry set to publish heavily critical report outlining a number of failures
- More than 150 victims and bereaved families preparing action ahead of report
The Manchester Arena bombing was ‘preventable’ and there was a ‘perfect storm of failures’ – as survivors are preparing to take legal action ahead of a critical report that is set to slam the response of emergency services.
The terror attack, which took place during an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, injured hundreds and claimed the lives of 22 people, with the youngest victim being an eight-year-old girl.
But it took paramedics 43 minutes to reach the venue, firefighters based just three miles away did not arrive until the last seriously injured victim had been rushed to hospital and police had wrongly reported a marauding gun incident.
Andrea Bradbury, a retired counter terrorism police inspector who was herself injured in the 2017 attack, said emergency services were ‘unprepared and totally caught off guard’ by the bombing.
It comes as a public inquiry into the response of emergency services is set to publish a heavily critical report outlining a number of failures today, The Times reports.
More than 150 of the victims and bereaved families are also preparing civil claims ahead of the report today.
The terror attack, which took place during an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, injured hundreds and claimed the lives of 22 people
A report due to be published today is set to heavily criticise the response of emergency services to the terror attack
Terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb at the end of the concert, killing 22 people
Undated handout file photos issued by Greater Manchester Police of the 22 victims of the terror attack during the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017. (top row left to right) Off-duty police officer Elaine McIver, 43, Saffie Roussos, 8, Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, Eilidh MacLeod, 14, (second row left to right) Nell Jones, 14, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15, Megan Hurley, 15, Georgina Callander, 18, (third row left to right), Chloe Rutherford,17, Liam Curry, 19, Courtney Boyle, 19, and Philip Tron, 32, (fourth row left to right) John Atkinson, 26, Martyn Hett, 29, Kelly Brewster, 32, Angelika Klis, 39, (fifth row left to right) Marcin Klis, 42, Michelle Kiss, 45, Alison Howe, 45, and Lisa Lees, 43 (fifth row left to right) Wendy Fawell, 50 and Jane Tweddle, 51
The latest report, the second by the public inquiry’s chairman Sir John Saunders, is expected to be examined closely after its release was delayed following requests from emergency services for more time.
The inquiry earlier heard how a ‘catastrophic’ litany of failings led to victims waiting for hours for treatment before finally being taken to hospital.
It is feared that two of the 22 deaths may have been avoided if emergency services had responded to the incident faster, The Telegraph reports.
Mr Saunders is expected to make a number of recommendations that will include improved communication, clearer planning and a more efficient system for deciding where emergency services will be sent in the event of a terror attack.
When Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb at the end of the concert, Ms Bradbury immediately knew it was an explosive device and called the on-call counter-terrorism officer.
But the response was filled with delays, miscommunications and inaccurate information that the incident was ongoing.
Ambulance services bosses were said to be concerned about the risk of a secondary explosive device and, as a result, held back support despite armed police establishing that there was no further threat. It left members of the public having to provide first aid to seriously injured victims.
Ms Bradbury said: ‘People were left in the time of need. It was so wrong, especially when experienced officers who did go in were demanding assistance and firearms teams had secured the building.
‘It was horrific, but what has always frustrated and angered me is the fact that it was preventable in the first place — and after it did happen, people were so badly let down by the police and the emergency services.’
The public inquiry’s chairman has already stated that there were nine missed opportunities to stop the deadliest attack on British soil since 2005.
Abedi sitting in the foyer at Manchester Arena, where police officers should have been on patrol and confronted him
In June last year, Mr Saunders ruled that Abedi should have been identified as a threat to security on the night of the attack.
In a blistering summary, he criticised ‘serious shortcomings’ by stewards for Showsec, particularly after a worried parent drew their attention to the bomber lurking around suspiciously for nearly an hour but a poorly-trained security guard did not want to confront him for fear of being called racist.
He also slammed British Transport Police after officers drove five miles for a kebab over a two-hour lunch break, leaving no one on duty in the City Room Foyer, where Abedi blew himself up on May 22, 2017 during an Ariana Grande concert.
Sir John said he considered it was likely the bomber, 22, would still have detonated his device if confronted ‘but the loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less’.
He is expected to publish a third report in the new year highlighting intelligence failings.
Ruth Murrell, who suffered injuries along with her daughter while her friend died in the attack, recalled ‘people dying in front of your eyes’ as scores of people tried to ring 999.
Figen Murray, whose son Martin was killed, is pushing for Martyn’s Law, which would make it a legal requirement for venues to improve security.
Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, speaks to the media outside Manchester Magistrates’ Court in June last year
The former therapist, who is now studying for a master’s degree in counter-terrorism, says the public is at risk by delays to safety reform.
Earlier this year, the Government announced proposals for a so-called Protect Duty for venues, but no legislation has yet been tabled.
Speaking ahead of the publication of the latest report from the inquiry into the arena attack, Ms Murray said: “I keep getting told we have the support of the Government, yet legislation is being consistently delayed. Martyn’s Law would save lives and every day it’s not in place is another day we are putting the public at risk.
‘I have now met five different security ministers, all of whom have said how important it is and how imminent the legislation is.
‘Yet over five years on from the attack, we are yet to see it. We are now hearing rumours that some in Government are trying to water it down to such an extent that it would pass in name only.
‘I know that politics has been in turmoil in recent months, but there is no excuse for delaying or weakening legislation that could save thousands of lives.’
Cath Hill, who was at the arena with her son on the night of the attack and has since set up the Manchester Survivors choir, added: ‘We have all been through so much pain in the last five years. One of the few hopes we cling onto is that what happened to us will mean we learn the lessons and protect others.
‘But for that to happen the Government needs to change their warm words into concrete legislation.’
Nick Aldworth, former UK Counter Terrorism national coordinator, also said: ‘When you consider that myself and other senior police officers were calling for this legislation within days of the Manchester Arena attack, it’s time for that experienced view to be listened to and survivors and victims to be respected.’
The 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017
- Elaine McIver, 43: the off-duty police officer died in the attack, which injured her husband and children;
- Saffie Rose Roussos, 8: the youngest victim was separated from her mother and sister in the seconds after the blast;
- Sorrell Leczkowski, 14: schoolgirl died in the bomb blast, while her mother, Samantha and grandmother Pauline were badly hurt;
- Eilidh MacLeod, 14: confirmed dead having been missing since being caught up in the blast with her friend Laura MacIntyre;
- Nell Jones, 14: farmer’s daughter travelled to the pop concert with her best friend for her 14th birthday;
- Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15: her family searched desperately for her for nearly 48 hours and went on TV to plead for news;
- Megan Hurley, 15: the Liverpool schoolgirl was with her brother who suffered serious injuries in the blast;
- Georgina Callander, 18: met Ariana Grande backstage at a previous gig and died in hospital with her mother at her bedside;
- Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19: couple from South Shields ‘wanted to be together forever and now they are’, their family said;
- Courtney Boyle, 19, and Philip Tron, 32: criminology student and her stepfather were confirmed dead following a Facebook appeal;
- John Atkinson, 26: pop fan from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, was in a local dance group and was leaving the gig when the blast happened;
- Martyn Hett, 29: public relations manager from Stockport, who was due to start a two-month ‘holiday of a lifetime’ to the US two days later;
- Kelly Brewster, 32: civil servant from Sheffield who died trying to shield her 11-year-old niece from the bombing;
- Marcin Kils, 42, and Angelika Kils, 39: both killed as they waited for their daughters who both survived the blast;
- Michelle Kiss, 45: mother-of-three from Clitheroe, Lancashire, went to the Ariana Grande concert with her daughter;
- Alison Lowe, 44, and friend Lisa Lees, 43: both killed when they arrived to pick up their teenage daughters who were not hurt;
- Wendy Fawell, 50: mother from Leeds was killed by the blast while picking up her children at the Arena with a friend;
- Jane Taylor, 50: mother-of-three from Blackpool was killed as she waited to collect a friend’s daughter from the concert