Families of the Manchester Arena attack victims made emotional statements outside court today as the final report revealed the security service MI5 ‘missed a significant opportunity’ to take action that may have prevented the bombing.
As the third and final report into the deaths of the 22 victims of the 2017 attack was revealed outside Manchester Crown Court on Thursday March 2nd, chairman Sir John Saunders said the reason for the missed chance included a ‘failure’ by an MI5 officer to act swiftly enough. The report considered how Salman Abedi was radicalised and if there were any chances security services missed to stop him and prevent the tragedy.
On May 22nd 2017, 22 people were killed when Abedi detonated a homemade explosive device in the foyer at the Manchester Arena as crowds left the Arianna Grande concert. Caroline Curry, the mother of victim Liam Curry made a statement on behalf of her family and Lisa and Mark Rutherford, parents of Chloe Rutherford. Liam, 19, and his girlfriend Chloe Rutherford, 17, were among 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack.
In the statement Ms Curry said ‘all the families have asked for is the truth and acknowledgement of failures’ and ‘determination those failures are fixed’. Adding, she ‘hopes no other families will ever have to go through the heartbreak’ they experienced. She said she ‘didn’t get any of that acknowledgement from anyone other than the Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service until the chairman’s report was published’.
“Shame on you all,” she added.
Martyn Hett’s parents, mum Figen Murray and stepfather Stuart Murray, said an emotional piece as Mrs Murray spoke about ‘moving forward’ and ‘for everyone concerned to learn from their mistakes and take heed of the recommendations’.
The 29-year-old social media manager was on a night out with friends and was just four metres away from Abedi when he detonated his suicide bomb. Mrs Murray said it seems like terrorists ‘are always a step or two ahead of us and we need to act fast’ and mentioned there was an ‘abundance of mistakes and failures’ made by a ‘raft of organisations and people’. But she added: “We are not here to point fingers.”
However, failure to implement recommendations risks ‘another catastrophic mistake’, she added.
Mr Murray ended the statements made by families, by saying: “We are from Manchester, the city of bees. There’s something been buzzing around in my head for a while…
“Shortly after the attack, St Ann’s Square was full of people from all over singing an Oasis song, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, I heard them say. Thank you.”
Richard Scorer, principal lawyer at Slater and Gordon who represented 11 of the families at the inquiry, said on behalf of the families that the findings were deeply painful but ‘eye opening’ and the ‘failures exposed in this report are unacceptable’. He said ‘the failures, at the very least, prevented a real possibility of preventing the attack’ and called for the current system to change to ensure ‘information of national security importance will be acted on speedily’ to protect the public.
Chairman Sir John Saunders said he found it wasn’t possible to reach a finding ‘on the balance of probabilities or to any other evidentiary standard’ as to whether the attack ‘would have been prevented’ had that action been taken. Though he added: “However, there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained which might have led to actions preventing the attack.”
On behalf of the security service, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum issued a public apology as he said he is ‘profoundly sorry’ that the secret service was not able to prevent the Manchester Arena attack. He said gathering ‘covert intelligence is difficult’ but had the security service managed to ‘seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma’.
Chief Constable Stephen Watson QPM, Greater Manchester Police, said: “On this difficult day, our thoughts are with the bereaved families and the survivors of the cowardly and brutal act that took place at the Manchester Arena on May 22nd, 2017.
“I thank the Chairman, Sir John Saunders, for the final volume of a highly comprehensive inquiry which has already done much to shape and deliver improvements into how Greater Manchester Police prepare for and respond to major incidents.
“We are fully resolved to never repeating the failings previously identified and will ensure that the final volume is fully reviewed and considered. We will do this with a continued fierce determination to ensure that the loss and hurt experienced by those still suffering will not be in vain.”
The Home Secretary Suella Braverman has responded to the findings of the inquiry this afternoon, saying in a statement: “Today is a difficult day. On May 22nd 2017, an act of pure evil took the lives of 22 people at Manchester Arena. My thoughts are with their loved ones and all those who had their lives changed forever.
“Over the past three years, the Manchester Arena Inquiry has carefully analysed critical evidence to ensure vital lessons are learned. I am grateful to Sir John Saunders and his team for their thorough and considered approach.
“I am committed to working with MI5, policing and partners to study the recommendations. Together we will do everything possible to prevent a repeat of this horrifying attack.”
First ever permanent pug cafe to open in Greater Manchester
If you’re a fan of pugs, you’re going to love this!
A brand new cafe full of adorable and playful pugs is set to open in Greater Manchester.
You could go for a coffee and cake while 10 cute pugs cuddle, play and come for treats from your hands at this brand new cafe concept opening on Chapel Street in Salford.
Already a huge hit in London, with visitors from near and far, Cuppapug will be opening its first café in the North West – and its second venue – with a soft launch on Friday March 1st.
Pug lovers can book in at the cafe for an hour of crazy or chilled pug time, suitable for all the family to enjoy.
Cuppapug is a cafe concept created by couple – and owners of seven pugs – Aaron Carty and Matthew Pieterse, who opened the doors to their first venue in London in 2022.
Fully opening to the public on March 21st, visitors to Cuppapug can expect the adorable, furry four-legged friends running around the cafe, playing in ball pits and eating carrots and treats from your hands.
The menu will feature a host of doggy-themed drinks and cakes as well as treats for the doggos such as puppuccinos.
In case you’re wondering where the pugs go at the end of the day, each one belongs to local owners who drop their loveable fur baby off at the cafe for a day of mischief and fun.
Also in the CuppaPug family are Gaston, Bruce, Bowser, Beau, Gizmo, Bebe, and Baloo – Aaron and Matt’s pugs who’ve been staying with them at The Kimpton Clocktower as they prep the site for opening.
Speaking to Proper Manchester about the new opening, Aaron said: “We chose Manchester because we discovered it is a city full of dog lovers who love pugs.
“We get so many people visiting our London cafe from the North, we’ve even people catching flights from Hawaii, so it seemed like the right place to open our next Cuppapug.”
On why he and Matt love pugs so much, Aaron said: “I think of pugs being a lot like myself and I also love an underdog – and pugs are an underdog of the dog world.
“People think they are unfit, unhealthy and have breathing issues but that’s not true. We actually train our pugs to enjoy carrots, walk a lot, and our pet pugs enjoy a steak night every week – even I don’t get that!”
The Salford Cuppapug will also be partnering with Manchester Pug Thing, who rescue and rehome pugs, with £1 from every ticket going towards the pug rescue charity.
Aaron added: “We’ve had such overwhelming support and positive messages about our Manchester opening, it’s been absolutely amazing.
“It’s already a nerve-wrecking experience deciding to open a second venue but we’re really happy to have chosen to do it in Manchester and we’re really happy Manchester has chosen us. We’ve had so many drivers going past and beeping us and people asking ‘is this the pug place?’
“We’re having a launch party on March 21st and are really excited to open.”
CuppaPug officially opens to the public on March 21st 6-10pm, following a soft launch this Friday (March 1st). You can find the cafe and pugs on Chapel Street, Salford – it’s bright pink, you can’t miss it!
Primary school in Greater Manchester evacuated after nearby ‘gas explosion’
A primary school in Greater Manchester has been evacuated after a ‘gas explosion’ at a nearby house.
The incident happened earlier today (February 28th) near to St Luke’s primary school in Bury.
Councillor Tamoor Tariq said everyone who lived nearby has also been taken to a place of safety after the blast, which happened in the Fishpool area.
At around 12pm, he posted on Facebook: “Heartbreaking to share there has been a gas explosion in the last few minutes right across from my house.
“I understand everyone has been taken into a place of safety and emergency services are doing all possible to deal with this awful situation.
“St Luke’s primary have also evacuated children, as they are just yards away. I remain out of the country due to a family member being critical, but I am keeping in touch with all relevant people/authorities.”
In a further comment, Mr Tamoor added: “An elderly neighbour has been taken into hospital, all others affected are in a safe and secure place of their choosing. Praying our neighbour will be ok and get the treatment she needs.”
A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said ‘multiple crews’ had been dispatched to the scene.
They added: “Residents in the area are advised to keep windows and doors closed and avoid the scene while crews carry out their work.”
A woman in her 70s has been taken to hospital with ‘serious injuries’, Greater Manchester Police said.
Issuing a statement on social media, GMP said: “Emergency services are currently responding to a report of an explosion at a property on Nelson Street in the Fishpool area of Bury.
“At this stage, a woman in her 70s has been taken to hospital with serious injuries. A 200 metre cordon is in place around the property and neighbouring homes.
“Local residents and the community will be made aware if they need to take any further action.”
Iceland announces it’s discounting baby formula to cut price of £7.95
Iceland CEO Richard Walker says says ‘businesses need to step up and do more’
Iceland has launched reduced cost baby formula in a bid to do more to help families through the cost of living crisis.
Iceland CEO Richard Walker is determined to bring down the cost of baby formula, and says ‘businesses need to step up and do more’.
The businessman has made it his mission after hearing heartbreaking tales from parents who have been struggling to feed their families amid spiralling costs.
Mr Walker, a dad-of-two, told Metro: “We’ve heard terrible stories of customers watering down feeds, skipping feeds or ignoring sell by dates, all of which is really bad for the baby. That prompted us to take action.”
Iceland slashed prices earlier this year, revealing three of its Aptamil formula milk products would sell at £11.20 – a move which led other supermarkets including Asda and Tesco to reduce their own prices.
Now, Iceland has confirmed it is selling 800g of SMA’s Little Steps formula milk for £7.95 across its stores and online from Tuesday February 27th – £1.80 cheaper than its rivals.
Mr Walker insisted it’s not just a clever business move either, as he continued: “The price is a mind-blowing £7.95 which makes it the cheapest infant formula milk on the market. I think it will really really help our customers.
“We’re not making any profit out of this now. We’re passing on the savings which we’re managing to persuade the manufacturer to give straight on to our customers.”
The baby formula industry is currently under investigation after prices rose by an average of 25% in the past two years.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it is looking into whether companies have been exploiting parents for profit.
Iceland’s launch of lower priced baby formula has also gained the support of Mumsnet.
The eight-million strong parenting group have announced they are joining forces with Formula For Change – Metro’s campaign to lower baby formula prices.
Mr Walker has also signed the petition and is calling on parents to sign it and help push it over the line.
Politicians may soon be forced to address the scandal as the Formula for Change petition is almost at the 100,000 signatures mark – the crucial threshold needed for a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Mr Walker also told the publication: “Formula for Change is absolutely fantastic. The Prime Minister has said he is ‘sad’ families are watering down formula to try and make it last longer, but again these are just words.”