Manchester Arena bombing victim's mother fears new terror law will leave 'loopholes' open

Five years on from attack that killed 22 people, grieving parent still fighting for change of legislation

Figen Murray's son Martyn Hett was killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. PA
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A woman whose son was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing on Tuesday voiced an evocative “mother-to-mother” message for Prime Minister Liz Truss, as she continues to battle for a change of law five years on.

Figen Murray said the killing of her 29-year-old son Martyn Hett in the terrorist attack in May 2017 ripped her family apart.

The mother of five is the driving force behind Martyn’s Law, officially known as the Protect Duty legislation, which is under consultation by the UK government.

Championed by victims’ groups, the bill aims to protect people from the threat of terrorism by introducing new security requirements for public venues and locations. The idea to create change was sparked in Mrs Murray’s mind after she attended a concert in Manchester in the months after attack and was shocked by the lack of security.

She voiced her fears that the end result of the arduous process would fail to live up to her expectations, with "loopholes" left in security requirements.

Figen Murray was made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by Prince William at Buckingham Palace in June. PA

Speaking on Tuesday at an event organised by insurance company Pool Re, the bereaved mother called on Ms Truss to do everything within her power to bring about a safer environment for people to attend events in public spaces, and to ensure no other parent has to endure an ordeal like hers.

“Mother to mother, because I know she has children of her own, I would like to say to her [about] what life is like at home, day after day in a room with your son's ashes on a bookshelf,” Mrs Murray said. “Because you know what? It's not nice.

“And I need her to understand that if the legislation doesn't come in, more mothers could be in that situation.”

Hett was one of 22 victims who were killed in the suicide bombing attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester five years ago. The device used by bomber Salman Abedi injured hundreds more.

Since the death of her son, Mrs Murray has earned a master’s degree in counter-terrorism and successfully lobbied the government to introduce Martyn’s Law. A public consultation on Protect Duty is complete and the proposed legislation is expected to be presented later this year or in early 2023.

She told The National that she is concerned the legislation will be too complicated for people to understand. “That’s one of my fears,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s definitely going to be like that but I have a feeling that the language within it is going to be so complex and full of jargon and also ambiguity … that it’s open to interpretation.”

She said a lack of clarity on security measures required of organisers holding a public event could lead to “loopholes” that would enable people to “explain their way through” unclear terminology.

She said her world was turned upside-down by the death of her son and bringing about change in UK law has since become a full-time job for her. The tireless campaigner said introducing stricter safety laws would be an “absolute opportunity for the UK to shine” among international partners.

She said: “It’s an ideal political opportunity, I think, and the government is simply not taking that advantage."

Updated: October 11, 2022, 3:58 PM
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