Lawyer criticises compensation rejections for Ariana Grande Manchester bombing

Emergency services worker not 'direct victim' as they weren't on scene when bomb went off

A Union flag with the words 'Pray For Manchester' near the arena attack site in 2017. AFP
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A lawyer has criticised the way compensation payouts to people hurt in the Manchester Arena bombings are decided, after her first-responder client was rejected for not being there at the time of the blast.

Nicola Bailey-Gibbs said her client was one of the first to arrive at the scene but their claim for compensation was thrown out.

Ms Bailey-Gibbs also found that about half of the criminal injury compensation claims made to the UK government for issues relating to the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack have been rejected.

Of 741 applications resolved by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, 331 did not result in payouts being awarded.

Ninety-seven claims for compensation are outstanding from people said to have suffered physically and/or mentally from the attack that killed 22 people at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

The figures were revealed after a Freedom of Information request from Hudgell Solicitors.

The emergency worker has since been diagnosed with moderate to severe post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of their experience.

But their application to the compensation authority for an award based on mental health injuries was one of those rejected.

The reason given for the unsuccessful claim was that the emergency worker was not a “direct victim” as they were not present at the scene when the bomb went off, the law firm said.

“In this case, my client responded in the best way they possibly could during a terrorist attack by doing their duty and helping the public in what were horrific circumstances,” said Ms Bailey-Gibbs, solicitor at Hudgell.

“Those awful scenes will remain with this person forever. They have had a profound and debilitating effect on their mental health.

“CICA awards are meant to acknowledge the effects a criminal or terrorist act has on a victim, even if no one has ever been prosecuted.

"And in this case I feel it was wrong of CICA to dismiss the claim by saying in effect, 'we're sorry, but you were not there at the very moment when the explosion happened'.”

Ms Bailey-Gibbs has asked for a review of the decision on the basis that the authority should not limit “the incident” to the very moment the explosion happened, and that it should cover a wider period of time in these circumstances.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: " We set up a dedicated team that has helped over 400 victims left with a range of serious physical and mental health problems as a direct result of the attack get compensation to aid their recovery, with more than £3.7 million [$3.9m] paid out to date.

“For those witnesses and emergency workers who bravely rushed to the scene not eligible for taxpayer-funded compensation, we have instead provided other forms of help, including a dedicated 24/7 helpline that offers vital mental health support.”

There is no threshold for applying to the scheme, which is seen as a “last resort” for those unable to access funding through other means.

But victims who sustain minor or non-permanent injuries such as cuts and bruises would not be eligible for a payout.

Updated: September 26, 2022, 11:12 PM