Manchester bombing: Police unaware Ariana Grande concert was taking place on night of attack, inquiry hears

Manchester police didn’t know the Ariana Grande concert was taking place on the night of the arena bombing as transport police were responsible for the venue, the inquiry has heard.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, continued his opening of the inquiry by explaining the problems with the emergency response.

He told the hearing that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) “did not know on an organisational level about the Ariana Grande concert and had not made any provision or plan for the concert that night”.

“On the face of it that may seem surprising,” he said.

Around 14,000 fans were at the concert when suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, detonated his home-made bomb, killing 22 and injuring hundreds of others on 22 May 2017.

The City Room entrance to the arena, above Victoria railway station, is owned by Network Rail, and British Transport Police were responsible for policing the area.

GMP could also operate in the area – and believed there was an “exception” that would see them take over in the event of a terrorist attack.

“Whether there was such an exception and if so how it was expected to work in theory and practice will be for the inquiry to investigate,” Mr Greaney said.

The inquiry was told that Inspector Dale Sexton from Greater Manchester Police declared Operation Plato at 10.47pm, 16 minutes after the bomb attack, a plan for a marauding terrorist firearms attack.

The inquiry had previously heard that the fire brigade was held back for two hours out of concern that there was a terrorist shooter on the loose.

“We will need to consider where this was communicated to other emergency services and whether it was maintained for appropriate period of time. Only police can cancel Operation Plato,” Mr Greaney said.

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