Public inquiry into Manchester Arena bombing to begin in June

A public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing will now begin in June, the chairman has ruled.

The hearing had been scheduled to begin in April, but retired High Court judge Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, on Tuesday set a new date of June 15, to allow time for the trial to conclude of Hashem Abedi, 22, the brother of the suicide bomber.

About 30 family members of the 22 who died in the attack watched the preliminary hearing of the public inquiry at Manchester Town Hall, ahead of the full inquiry later this year.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a rucksack bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, which also left hundreds injured.

His younger brother Hashem, who denies 22 counts of murder, appeared at the Old Bailey in London for the start of his trial on Monday, which was adjourned by trial judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, until Wednesday.

He also faces a single count of attempted murder, representing all the other victims, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

The public inquiry, expected to last more than four months, will examine the background to the attack and the emergency response.

Evidence is expected from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, among others.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, told the hearing that pen portraits of each of the victims will be given at the start of the inquiry, which will be held in a specially converted room at Manchester Magistrates' Court.

Further preliminary hearings for the public inquiry will be held on February 28 and March 20, before the inquiry begins on June 15.