Manchester Arena bombing inquiry a ‘complete waste of time’

Jeremy Vine fumes following Manchester Arena inquiry findings

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The husband of a Manchester Arena bombing victim has branded the public inquiry into the attack a “complete waste of time”. The Mayor of Greater Manchester has also described as “barely believable” the fact the police previously provided an “inaccurate account” of their response on the night.

The second of three volumes of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report was released yesterday, more than half a decade after the bombing itself.

On May 22, 2017, 22 people – plus the suicide bomber – were killed at the venue following a concert by US singer Ariana Grande and many more were injured.

Islamic State claimed responsibility following the attack, but police said they believed the bomber, Salman Abedi, and his brother acted independently.

The latest volume of the inquiry focussed on the emergency response to the attack.

Inquiry Chairman Sir John Saunders said “significant aspects” of the response “went wrong”, adding: “This should not have happened.”

He added that the emergency services’ “inadequacies” had prevented the survival of at least one victim, John Atkinson, 28, and possibly that of others.

Following the release, Steven Howe, husband of Alison Howe, a former nurse who was killed in the attack at the age of 44, described the inquiry as “a complete waste of time”.

He said that had the authorities responsible “held their hands up” to mistakes back in 2017, much time and money would not have had to be “wasted” on the report.

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Mr Howe told ITV: “It has been a complete waste of time – a waste of time and money, in my opinion.

“The people who were in charge that night, you know if they had held their hands up within weeks and said ‘we made loads of mistakes’ and we hadn’t had to do this to bring them to account, I think we would have felt better.

“But after six years, I feel worse than I did the day after it happened.”

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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has also expressed his frustration over the initial “inaccurate account” given by the police following the 2017 bombing.

Responding to the new report, he said: “It is barely believable to me, given my request to them to co-operate fully with the Kerslake Report, that our police force back then provided an inaccurate account of their actions nine months after the attack, which was signed off by the former Chief Constable, something which he accepted in evidence in 2021 was a, quote, ‘grave error’.

“It is my view that the Force tried to stick for too long to a corporate narrative that suggested it had acted effectively.

“That wasn’t just disrespectful to the families and those injured; it had the effect of misleading myself and the Deputy Mayor, denied everyone the opportunity to learn and delayed the action needed to improve the force.

“This is sadly something we have seen in the aftermath of other disasters and a pattern that keeps on repeating.”

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