security

Manchester Arena bombing: Mother of victim urges Govt to ‘get on’ with security consultation


The mother of Martyn Hett, who died in the Manchester Arena bombing, has demanded that the Government urgently resume talks on bringing in laws to heighten security in crowded public spaces.

Figen Murray told the inquiry into the terror attack which took place in May 2017 that “the stakes are too high” to delay the public consultation any further in light of recent terror attacks in Vienna and France.

The consultation on Martyn’s Law was paused due to the Covid-19 outbreak, but Mrs Murray said the government cannot afford to “wait for Covid-19 to end”.

The plans were backed by the government, with Security Minister Brandon Lewis saying that the prime minister was “100 per cent” behind them in January.

Martyn’s Law would see the introduction of freely available counter-terror training for event staff, vulnerability assessments of operating spaces and the need for venues and local authorities to have counter-terror action plans.

She said: “The problem is, with the attacks in Vienna and in France in the last few weeks, our risk level has now gone up to severe which means an attack is highly likely.

“I just feel that the stakes are just too high now.

“We just cannot wait for Covid-19 to end and then do the consultation because we don’t know how long Covid-19 is going to be with us.

“I would really like the Government to get on with the consultation and not delay it any further.”

She said an “additional worry” was the uncertainty of how many people will have been radicalised online during lockdown.

“If something happens, if we get an attack – I want to almost say when – and the Government have not acted… if something happens and people are killed, the families of those people who died may ask the question why has something not been done when it is pointed out,” she added.

Mrs Murray’s son Martyn was one of 22 people killed by suicide bomber Salman Abedi at the end of an Ariana Grande concert three years ago.

Mr Hett was described by those who knew him as ‘iconic and beautiful’

(Instagram/Twitter/Martyn Hett)

The mother has had talks with several Government ministers on the issue and was recently in a phone conversation with Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said she was “supportive” of Martyn’s Law.

She said in a statement to the public inquiry that there were more than 650,000 crowded spaces, including street markets, bus stations and churches, and “a lot” were not covered by present licensing regulations.

She said she felt it was “absurd” there is legislation for how many toilets a venue must have and how food must be prepared but nothing that holds those venues to having basic security in place.

The idea for Martyn’s Law came to Mrs Murray after she took her “tiniest handbag” to a small music concert in Manchester in December 2018 to “make the bag search easy”, but was shocked that she was allowed to walk straight in with her husband.

“I cried at one point during the concert because we came straight up there and sat down without anyone checking us,” she said.

“I assumed since the Arena attack that security in public areas is now a common thing and I was shocked that it was not.”

Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, praised her for her efforts and said: “We think it is wonderful that you are doing so much to make something constructive come out of this tragedy by campaigning to introduce Martyn’s Law to save others from suffering in the way you and other families have.

“I know other families are also working to make other positive outcomes for the benefit of others as their response to the tragedy they have suffered.”

The public inquiry is expected to last into spring 2021.

Additional reporting by PA



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