Manchester Arena attack victim’s mother demands urgency on security

The mother of Manchester Arena bombing victim Martyn Hett has urged the Government to speed up talks on bringing in laws to step up security in crowded public spaces.

The Government paused a public consultation on Martyn’s Law due to the coronavirus outbreak but Figen Murray told the inquiry into the May 2017 terror attack that “the stakes are too high” to delay it any further in light of recent terror attacks in Vienna and France.

Among her plans are 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.

Martyn’s Law
Martyn’s Law

Mrs Murray 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 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.

She said: “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.”

Mrs Murray, whose son Martyn was one of the 22 people murdered by suicide bomber Salman Abedi at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, has had talks with several Government ministers on the issue and had a recent phone conversation with Home Secretary Priti Patel who she said was “supportive” of Martyn’s Law.

She explained there were more than 650,000 crowded spaces such as street markets, bus stations and churches, and “a lot” were not covered by present licensing regulations.

In a statement to the public inquiry 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.

She said her idea for Martyn’s Law came about when she took her “tiniest handbag” to a small music concert in Manchester in December 2018 to “make the bag search easy” but was then shocked to walk straight in with her husband.

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

“I felt foolish.

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

Mrs Murray went on to launch a petition to Government which attracted more than 23,000 signatures.

The public inquiry is expected to last into next spring.