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Manchester Arena inquiry: suicide bomber 'hiding in plain sight', terrorism reviewer tells LBC
18 June 2021, 09:38
The Manchester Arena bomber was 'hiding in plain sight' the UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has told LBC.
Jonathan Hall was appointed in May 2019 to independently scrutinise and report on terrorism legislation and he spoke to LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast after the inquiry chairman, Sir John Saunders found that security company Showsec, the arena’s operator SMG, and the British Transport Police (BTP) were "principally responsible for the missed opportunities" on the night of the attack along with individual failings.
Mr Hall agreed with Sir John Saunders that there were “inexcusable errors” adding, “You have other inquests like the Fishmongers’ Hall inquiry where the failures are really to put together information, to combine information from Mi5, from probation, prisons and the like."
"Here it wasn’t about a failure to combine information, it was a failure to see what was actually there."
“That’s the real lesson for me which is that sometimes stopping terrorism is about seeing what is there in front of you and what happens at ground level”
Nick then referred to the nine failings, "one of which was a guard’s failure to report Abedi out of fear of being termed a racist".
Mr Hall responded: “I think that’s about confidence. We can all see that you might spot someone and think ‘oh look, they look suspicious’. It then requires the confidence to go and report it and I think the absence of the police on the ground was really serious from that point of view because even if an individual might find it hard to tackle another member of the public, they could have gone to the police who do have that confidence".
Sir John Saunders found that there was no “adequate security patrol” by Showsec in the foyer 30 minutes before Salman Abedi detonated the bomb and that security guard Mohammed Agha failed to notice him acting suspiciously in the foyer in the hour leading up to the attack.
Mr Hall recommended that security guards are trained to look out for the “signs” from real-life terrorist events including “behavioural traits, people walking around with rucksacks” and leave-taking.
The inquiry also found failings by the BTP and heard that none of the four officers on patrol were in the arena at the time of the attack despite instructions that one officer should be in attendance at the end of the concert.