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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Mark Brown

‘Martyn’s Law’: mother of Manchester Arena victim says safety measures delayed

Figen Murray lost her son Martyn in the Manchester Arena bombing.
Figen Murray lost her son Martyn in the Manchester Arena bombing. Photograph: James Speakman/PA

Figen Murray, who lost her 29-year-old son Martyn Hett in the Manchester Arena bombing, said she wanted now to look forward and make sure the same mistakes never happened again.

Speaking outside Manchester magistrates court shortly after publication of Thursday’s inquiry report, Murray said: “Today we have learned about the failings of the emergency services. There’s no denying these failings led to a loss of life but I’m not here to play the blame game.

“What is important from this day forward is to learn from these mistakes so that they don’t happen to anyone else in the future.”

On Thursday, the inquiry’s chair, Sir John Saunders, delivered a scathing report on the response of the emergency services, and said significant aspects of the response on 22 May 2017 “went wrong”.

Murray is campaigning for “Martyn’s Law”, a series of changes that would boost security at public venues.

“Despite the apparent government support that I have been promised, this much needed law appears to be consistently delayed,” she said.

“Had Martyn’s Law been in place that night, we now know that precious lives would have been saved. We cannot turn the clock back, but for every passing day that today’s recommendations and Martyn’s Law are not in place is yet another day where all of our safety is at risk.”

Stuart Murray, Martyn’s stepfather and a GP, said the inquiry report showed that people had been let down: “I’ve sat and I’ve listened,” he said. “And now we have the evidence. It is absolutely disgraceful that large corporate companies can make money by cutting back on basic first aid measures which have been proven to save lives.”

Kim Harrison, a solicitor speaking on behalf of 11 families, said the report confirmed “everything we feared about the catastrophic failings of the emergency services”.

She added: “So many failures happened on that night it is impossible to list them all here. This damning report sets out in meticulous detail how the emergency services lacked preparedness, planning, communication, resources, equipment. Almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.”

“It is totally unacceptable that members of the public were left seriously injured and dying in the street for what must have seemed an eternity. It is clear that the so-called golden hour after the attack was utterly squandered by the catastrophic response of the emergency services.”

Survivors who were among the closest people to the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, when he detonated his device said they felt they were “left to die” by emergency services.

Sisters Janet Senior, 64, and Josie Howarth, 66, from Knottingley, West Yorkshire, were waiting for their nieces at the end of the Ariana Grande concert.

Senior recalled: “We were injured in the foyer for about an hour with no help coming at all and that time will forever haunt me.

“Josie was slipping in and out of consciousness and I was worried she was going to die. I felt so alone, so helpless, so afraid. We were left waiting for what seemed an eternity.

“People were dying around us. I can still hear the sounds of all the people around wailing in agony and calling desperately for help. Over time, that calling out faded and people stopped calling out.

“I can remember thinking, as more time passed, ‘Nobody is coming for us. We’re being left to die’.

“There were too many chiefs, not enough doers.”

The law firm Hudgell Solicitors is preparing civil claims for more than 150 survivors from the attack.

At a briefing after publication of the report, emergency service officers all said they accepted the report’s findings, admitted failings and offered unreserved and wholehearted apologies.

Nothing could approach the emotions felt by survivors or the families of those who died, they said.

Lucy D’Orsi, the chief constable of British Transport Police, said she had walked through the arena the previous night and Thursday morning. “I felt terribly emotional,” she said. “I felt really angry and hugely disappointed around the delivery on that night. But … I absolutely know today we are in a different position, we would respond more effectively.”

Stephen Watson, the chief constable of Greater Manchester police, said his emotions on Thursday were pretty raw. “I personally feel so very strongly for the families we let down,” he said. He felt a combination of “real sadness, real disappointment, an element of being ashamed … But also a real, genuine determination to make sure that this never happens again.”

Dave Russell, Greater Manchester’s chief fire officer, echoed those sentiments: “I do feel saddened and I do feel ashamed,” he said.

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