Manchester

Manchester Arena attack: Survivors refused role in inquiry

Top (left to right): Lisa Lees, Alison Howe, Georgina Callender, Kelly Brewster, John Atkinson, Jane Tweddle, Marcin Klis, Eilidh MacLeod - Middle (left to right): Angelika Klis, Courtney Boyle, Saffie Roussos, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, Martyn Hett, Michelle Kiss, Philip Tron, Elaine McIver - Bottom (left to right): Wendy Fawell, Chloe Rutherford, Liam Allen-Curry, Sorrell Leczkowski, Megan Hurley, Nell Jones Image copyright Family photos
Image caption The bomb was detonated at the end of an Ariana Grande concert and killed 22 people

Manchester Arena bombing survivors have lost their bid to be represented at a public inquiry into the 2017 bombing.

In April, chairman Sir John Saunders denied survivors of the blast "core participant" status in the hearing.

The group took legal action to give them the same rights during the inquiry as the police, government and families of those who died.

Saoirse de Bont, who represents more than 50 survivors, said the decision was "hugely disappointing".

The public inquiry, due to begin in September, will examine the background to the attack and emergency responses.

Ms de Bont said the ruling left "our clients who were seriously injured feeling like they will not have a voice at the public inquiry".

She said the families were now considering any options for appeal.

Image caption Martin Hibbert suffered 22 shrapnel wounds in the blast

Martin Hibbert, who was the closest casualty to the bomb blast to survive, said he was "very upset and disappointed" by the decision but added the fight was not over.

"We were the lucky ones. We were there and we survived," said Mr Hibbert, who was left paralysed from the waist down.

"So we've got a lot information that we feel is imperative for a thorough investigation so lessons can be learned.

"We are perplexed as to the ruling given what we've seen, what we've heard and what we've been through."

A total of 600 adults and 340 children were injured in the blast after an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017, the court heard.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said the hearing would focus on those who died in the attack but many survivors would give evidence and they were being encouraged to raise any issues with the inquiry team.

The judicial review was heard by Dame Victoria Sharp, the President of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Garnham.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Hashem Abedi's sentencing has been delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak

In the ruling, Dame Victoria said the survivors' application was "out of time" as it was made several weeks after the 14-day cut-off following Sir John's decision on 21 April.

"We would in any event have refused permission to apply on the ground that the claim itself is not arguable," she added.

The full reasons for the decision on the judicial review will be published at a later date.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a suicide bomb as fans left the arena.

His younger brother, Hashem Abedi, was convicted of 22 counts of murder in March at the Old Bailey and is expected to be sentenced in August.

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