Ex-counterterror chief calls on British government to introduce new security law for public venues

Nick Aldworth urges victims of terrorism to 'keep pressure' on officials

Britain's former counterterrorism co-ordinator has backed calls for the British government to introduce rigorous security laws for venues after an inquiry into the deadly Manchester Arena attack.

Nick Aldworth urged victims to "keep pressure" on the government to introduce the recommended Protect Duty measure, ensuring public venues have action plans in place to deal with terrorist attacks by the end of the year.

Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

He is supporting Figen Murray, who has been campaigning for Martyn's Law after her son Martyn Hett, 29, was one of 22 people murdered in the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena in 2017.

A British government consultation into Protect Duty is due to end next week.

"We need to keep pushing for #MartynsLaw to be brought forward as quickly as possible," he tweeted.

"We need to keep the pressure on now to get the government to work at pace to analyse the consultation and get the legislative proposal to Parliament.

"No more delays, let’s get it into committee before end of 2021."

Last week, Ms Murray won backing of the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing for her campaign to change the law.

She attended a concert after her son’s death and launched her campaign over concerns that no one had searched her bag upon entry.

"So glad the work we have done on Martyn’s Law is coming to some sort of fruition.

"Things just have to move forward now and the necessary changes have to be implemented. Smart venues will already start this process before the legislation even comes in."

Last week the first of three reports into the attack, in which Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande pop concert, was published.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders recommended a "rigorous" Protect Duty was introduced by the government.

Strong support for Protect Duty measure

"The idea of a Protect Duty has been around for some time but it has been given new impetus by the hard work of Figen Murray whose son was one of the victims of this outrage," he said.

"A government consultation is ongoing and people need to understand how important a Protect Duty will be if introduced and the wide range of people who will be affected by the proposal.

He said he “fully supported” the introduction of such a scheme.

“In relation to the arena I have recommended that the requirements are stringent. There seems to me no reason why large commercial organisations should not take all reasonable precautions to protect their customers from a terrorist attack."

His 204-page report said the atrocity should have been prevented and many lives could have been saved.

Mr Saunders made nine recommendations, including the introduction of a Protect Duty, in a bid to prevent future attacks.

“The security arrangements for the Manchester Arena should have prevented or minimised the devastating impact of the attack,” he said.

“They failed to do so. There were a number of opportunities that were missed leading to this failure. Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat by those responsible for the security of the arena and a disruptive intervention undertaken.

“Had that occurred, I consider it likely that Abedi would still have detonated his device, but the loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less.”

He said British Transport Police, Arena operators SMG and event security providers Showsec were all “principally responsible” for those missed opportunities. Had any of them challenged Abedi before the end of the concert it is possible only one life may have been lost instead of 22, the report said.