Manchester Arena inquiry: Parents of South Shields teenagers Liam and Chloe react after security findings published

An inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing in which a teenage couple from South Shields tragically died, has found that there were ‘missed opportunities’ to prevent the devastating impact of the attack.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 4:29 pm

Chloe Rutherford, 17 and Liam Curry, 19, were among the 22 people who tragically lost their lives in the terrible incident on May 22, 2017.

An public inquiry into the circumstances around the attack is ongoing and hearings have been taking place in Manchester since September last year.

Now, a report by inquiry chairman, Sir John Saunders, has found that Manchester Arena suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack by those in charge of security.

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The report, which examined security arrangements at the venue, found there were a number of missed opportunities to prevent or minimise the “devastating impact”.

Reacting to the findings, Chloe’s parents Lisa and Mark Rutherford and Liam’s mum, Caroline Curry, said they were ‘pleased with the report’.

Speaking on behalf of both families, Lisa, said: “We are very pleased with the report and can’t thank the inquiry team enough for their hard work and commitment.”

Sir John said he considered it was likely Abedi would still have detonated his device if confronted “but the loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less.”

He said: “The security arrangements for the Manchester Arena should have prevented or minimised the devastating impact of the attack.

"They failed to do so. There were a number of opportunities which were missed leading to this failure.

“Salman Abedi should have been identified on May, 22, 2017 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 Salman Abedi would still have detonated his device, but the loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less.”

The inquiry heard that a member of the public, Christopher Wild, earlier approached Abedi and said he asked him what was in his rucksack but he did not reply.

Mr Wild thought “nervous” Abedi looked out of place and raised his concerns at about 10.15pm with Showsec steward Mohammed Agha, who was guarding an exit door, but told the inquiry he felt “fobbed off”.

It was another eight minutes before Mr Agha relayed the concerns to colleague Kyle Lawler as the former had no radio to the security control room and did not believe he could leave his post, the inquiry heard.

Sir John said Arena operator SMG, its security provider Showsec and British Transport Police, who patrolled the area adjoining Manchester Victoria rail station, were “principally responsible” for the missed opportunities.

In his report, Sir John said: “The most striking missed opportunity, and the one that is likely to have made a significant difference, is the attempt by Christopher Wild to bring his concerns about Salman Abedi, whom he had already challenged, to the attention of Mohammed Agha.

"He stated that he formed the view that Salman Abedi might “let a bomb off”.

"That was sadly all too prescient and makes all the more distressing the fact that no effective steps were taken as a result of the efforts made by Christopher Wild.”

Retired High Court judge Sir John is issuing his findings on a rolling basis, split into three volumes.

A further report will follow on the emergency response and the experience of each of those who died, and finally an analysis of whether the atrocity committed by Abedi, could have been prevented.

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