Inquiry in to Manchester Arena terror attack begins

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena terror attack will begin on Monday.

It comes more than three years after suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people and injured hundreds of others outside an Ariana Grande concert.

The inquiry had been due to start in June, but was delayed by the trial of Abedi's brother Hashem, who was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life and was jailed for a minimum of 55 years in August.

The families of those murdered will gather in the city on Monday.

Sir John Saunders, a retired High Court judge, will chair the Manchester Arena Inquiry, to investigate events before, during and after the attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on the evening of May 22, 2017.

The 22 victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack Credit: Greater Manchester Police/PA

The names of the 22 victims will be read out, followed by a minute silence as the inquiry formally begins.

Salman Abedi was known to the security services, and a senior MI5 officer, known only as witness J, is expected to give evidence to the inquiry later this year.

The inquiry is being held with unprecedented arrangements to ensure social distancing is observed by the families of the deceased, their lawyers and others representing public bodies, witnesses and the media.

The main hearings will take place in a room specially converted from two courtrooms within the Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court building in the centre of Manchester.

Salman Abedi on the night he carried out the attack Credit: Greater Manchester Police/PA

A small number of relatives of those killed are expected to attend the hearing room, with a conference centre nearby accommodating others, along with survivors of the attack.

A media annexe has also been provided for journalists, with only a single media representative, from the PA news agency, inside the hearing room.

Sir John Saunders will begin proceedings by formally opening the inquiry, before Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, reads the names of the 22 victims, followed by the minute silence.

Mr Greaney will then, over the following three days, set out the evidence to be heard and summarise the key issues to be considered during the inquiry, expected to run in to spring next year.

Background evidence and pen portraits, where families of those murdered speak about their loved ones, will begin on Thursday.

Hashem Abedi avoided a whole life order Credit: Greater Manchester Police/PA

The inquiry is divided into 17 chapters to cover topics including the victims, the background and radicalisation of Salman Abedi, the response of the emergency services on the night, the planning of the attack and whether what the security services and police knew about Salman Abedi could have prevented the attack.

The chairman will make a report and recommendations once all the evidence is heard.

Some evidence, involving information judged to be potentially of use to terrorists, is subject to restriction orders, and those hearings will be closed to the public.

The most sensitive evidence is likely to be heard at closed hearings, with both press and public excluded because of the risk to national security.

A livestream of proceedings will be broadcast so members of the public can follow the hearings.