Manchester Arena attack: Coroner asks for bomb deaths public inquiry

Manchester bombing victims Image copyright Various
Image caption Twenty-two people were killed in the attack on 22 May 2017

A coroner has said inquests into the deaths of 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena attack should be converted into a public inquiry.

Sir John Saunders ruled earlier this month that evidence from MI5 and the police should be kept secret on national security grounds.

He has written to the Home Secretary to confirm he had decided a statutory public inquiry was now necessary.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured in the 2017 bombing.

Sir John wrote to Priti Patel on Friday saying that it was of "paramount importance" that inquests, which were due to start in April, should be converted into a public inquiry as "a matter of urgency".

He said: "I have reached the view that, in light of my ruling on the PII applications made by yourself and the counter-terrorism police, that such an investigation cannot now be achieved through the inquests and must be done by establishing a statutory public inquiry.

"No interested persons involved in the inquests, including the families, have made submissions objecting to this proposed course."'

'Carefully consider'

Sir John stressed that it was "a matter of vital public importance" that a "full, fair and fearless" investigation be held into the "terrible" events of 22 May 2017.

Salman Abedi, 22, blew himself up in a suicide bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

His brother Hashem Abedi, 22, has been charged with murder and attempted murder after being extradited from Libya.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Now that the coroner has decided that an inquest cannot satisfactorily investigate the deaths, the Home Secretary will carefully consider his recommendation and respond as soon as possible."

Sir John also revealed that he will be the coroner overseeing the bomber's inquest.

He said: "I have, out of respect to the families, indicated that his inquest will be held separately."

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