'How can I accept an apology?' Father of youngest Manchester Arena victim plans to sue MI5

5 March 2023, 15:23

affie-Rose Roussos's father said MI5 had 'blood on their hands'
affie-Rose Roussos's father said MI5 had 'blood on their hands'. Picture: Handout/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The father of the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing has said he has plans to sue MI5 as it holds "most of the blame" for the attack.

It comes after the security service's director general, Ken McCallum, issued a public apology following an inquiry's conclusion that security services missed an opportunity to take action on intelligence that might have stopped the attack in 2017.

Some 22 people were killed and hundreds more injured by a shrapnel-filled bomb set off by Islamist terrorist Salman Abedi at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

Andrew Roussos, the father of the youngest victim - eight-year-old Saffie Roussos - has instructed solicitors to look into the possibility of suing MI5, saying: "How can I accept an apology?"

Mr Roussos' solicitors, Broudie Jackson Canter, are looking at a possible High Court claim which would rest upon Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to life.

Andrew Roussos
Andrew Roussos. Picture: Getty

Read More: MI5 chief 'profoundly sorry' over missed intelligence opportunities to prevent Manchester Arena bombing

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A number of families who saw loved ones die in the tragic attack have indicated they might join Mr Roussos in taking legal action against the security service, according to the Sunday Times.

Speaking on Times Radio, Mr Roussos said: "It's the only way to learn, everybody learns by hitting them hard in the pocket, I am sorry to say.

"At 2017 we were at the highest alert and everybody was warned of an attack in this country and MI5 who their sole job, they are well-funded and well-equipped, had 22 pieces of information about Salman Abedi.

"So if they would have learnt lessons they wouldn't have allowed Abedi to walk into that arena.

"So yes MI5 have, for me, most of the blame."

'I went to uni with the Manchester Arena bomber and we warned authorities'

He added: "It's alright saying that Manchester wasn't prepared that night, which it wasn't, and the arena was so not prepared for such an attack, for me knowing the information we knew at the start, Salman Abedi should not have made it to that arena that night, there were too many missed opportunities."

Mr Roussos said that the apology from MI5 had come too late for him and added: "I can't accept apologies for losing Saffie, I want Saffie back in my life and I can't have that.

"An apology for missing 22 opportunities to stop the attacker, how can I accept an apology.

"If you want to make an apology something meaningful, apologise from day one, that would mean a lot more than waiting for an inquiry to see if you are in any way, shape or form to blame for this attack."

Salman Abedi
Salman Abedi. Picture: Handout

The third and final stage of the inquiry by Sir John Saunders, which reported on Thursday afternoon, found that MI5 had missed an opportunity that might have prevented the terror attack taking place.

It also looked into how British-born Abedi was radicalised and who may have helped him.

MI5 director general said in response: "Having examined all the evidence, the chair of the Inquiry has found that 'there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained which might have led to actions preventing the attack.

"I deeply regret that such intelligence was not obtained.

"Gathering covert intelligence is difficult - but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma. I am profoundly sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack.

"To all those whose lives were forever changed on that awful night: I am so sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack at the Manchester Arena."