Families' "horror" that brother of Arena bomber was allowed to leave the UK

Video report by ITV News correspondent Amy Welch

Ismail Abedi, the older brother of the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi, has 'thwarted' the wishes of the public inquiry and left the country nearly two months ago.

He was not in court today, when he was due to appear, and has 'been able to flee and laugh in the face of the inquiry' said Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry.

Officers using counter-terrorism powers interviewed Abedi, 28, which caused him to miss his intended flight from Manchester on August 28. But he successfully boarded a plane at the same airport on August 29 and has not returned to the UK since.

He was called to give "highly important" evidence at the public inquiry into the atrocity committed by Salman Abedi, and aided by their brother, Hashem Abedi, 24, who was jailed for life last year, as to how they they had become radicalised.

Counsel to the Public Inquiry, Paul Greaney QC Credit: Press Association

The inquiry has heard that police say they had no power to stop Ismail Abedi leaving the country.

The chairman Sir John Saunders urged people not to rush to judgement.

The law firm Slater & Gordon acts for twelve of the victims and eleven families and released a statement on their behalf:

"A man who had genuinely rejected extremism would want to help the search for truth and would have been here today.  Ismail Abedi is clearly not such a person but has taken the coward’s way out.

"We are appalled to learn that Ismail Abedi left the country in August, having been stopped at the airport once before.  

 "We are shocked that that can have been allowed to happen and we note the Inquiry  are seeking urgent clarification on this." 

Full statement read by lawyer Shane Smith:

Greater Manchester Police say they are not making any comment.

22 people died and hundreds were left injured and traumatised after suicide-bomber Salman Abedi detonated a device following an Ariana Grande concert at 10.31pm on 22 May, 2017.

The victims were aged between eight and 51.

Ismail Abedi was interviewed extensively by counter-terrorism police for nearly a fortnight following his arrest before he was released without charge.

He denied any involvement in or knowledge of the bombing and stated he had played no part in the radicalisation of his younger brother.

Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi, left, with brothers Hashem (centre) and Ismail on the right. Credit: Duncan Gardham

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Detectives concluded there was no evidence that met the charging standards for any offence relating to him being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of the arena attack.

However, the inquiry previously heard the police investigation remains open and there would be further attempts to speak to him.