Manchester Arena operator denies 'sacrificing safety'

Image source, Family handouts
Image caption,
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds more injured in the 2017 bombing

The operator of the Manchester Arena has denied it "deliberately sacrificed safety" in the aftermath of the 2017 bombing.

Venue operator SMG has disputed claims it "was akin to the worst kind of Dickensian factory owner, deliberately and cynically sacrificing safety".

British Transport Police (BTP) has admitted it made mistakes.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds more injured when Salman Abedi detonated a home-made device as fans left the arena following an Ariana Grande concert.

Andrew O'Connor QC, representing SMG, told the inquiry the firm had always accepted responsibility for security in the City Room, where the bomb exploded.

But he denied the firm had sought to "blame others," adding it had "simply sought to explain how SMG discharged its responsibilities".

"It is for that purpose and not for prevarication, finger-pointing or buck passing that we have sought to explain to you SMG's relationship with all the other organisations involved," he added.

Mr O'Connor said the company accepted there were "shortcomings" with its written risk assessments but maintained it "did have a system for assessing terrorism-related risk".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The public inquiry into the bombing will look at whether the attack could have been prevented

Patrick Gibbs QC, representing BTP, told the inquiry the force made five key mistakes on the night of the bombing.

This included having no officers on patrol at Victoria station when Abedi made his final journey to the arena and not having an officer in the City Room at the end of the concert.

Other mistakes included failing to complete a written risk-assessment for the concert, officers not following instructions from their duty sergeant and that PC Stephen Corke, the most experienced officer on duty, was not at the arena complex for the end of the event.

BTP has since made significant changes to its procedures since the attack, the inquiry was told.

These include monthly meetings with the arena operators to discuss events.

The inquiry, which began in September, continues.

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