Manchester Arena bombing report delayed due to level of criticism it makes

Inquiry into 2017 terrorist attack said 'very detailed responses' on role of emergency services had to be considered before publication

Flowers and tributes left in St Ann's Square in Manchester in memory of the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack by Salman Abedi, in May 2017. PA
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The inquiry into the 2017 terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena, in Manchester, northern England, has delayed releasing its second report into the atrocity because of the level of criticism it raises.

It was due to publish the second report, which examines the actions of the emergency services, before the parliamentary summer recess, set provisionally for 22 July.

But on Thursday night, the Manchester Arena Inquiry announced that this will be delayed until November.

“As a result of the volume of correspondence — in particular the number of 'warnings of criticisms' and the very detailed responses ― all of which must be considered; the publication of volume 2 of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report will now be in early November,” the inquiry said.

A third report, which looks at the security services, was due to be published separately later in the year.

The inquiry has been examining the circumstances behind the attack in May 22, 2017 and whether it could have been prevented.

ISIS-linked terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the venue during an Ariane Grande concert, killing 22 people and injuring more than 1,000.

Last June, the first report into the Manchester Arena terror attack was released. It said the atrocity should have been prevented.

The inquiry found that the security services should have been able to prevent Abedi detonating a bomb in the foyer of the arena.

In the 204-page report, Manchester Arena Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders, said lives could have been saved.

He made nine recommendations 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.”

Sir John said British Transport Police, who were responsible for policing the area, and arena operators SMG and its contracted event security providers Showsec are all “principally responsible” for missed opportunities leading to the atrocity.

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.

Abedi, 22, died after detonating his bomb as fans were emerging from the performance.

His younger brother, Hashem Abedi, was convicted in 2020 of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

He was sentenced to a minimum of 55 years in jail.

Updated: July 01, 2022, 2:04 PM