Manchester Arena Inquiry: Abedi missed by security as he blended in

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Abedi missed by security as he blended in

Salman Abedi “blended in too well” to be picked up by security on the night he detonated a suicide bomb at the Manchester Arena, an inquiry has heard.

James Allen, arena manager for premises owner SMG, said he was not aware that teenagers as young as 16 were employed as stewards before the attack in 2017.

Mr Allen told the inquiry he had also been unaware there was a CCTV blind spot in the City Room foyer area.

He said significant changes had been made to security in the area.

Counsel to the public inquiry, Paul Greaney QC, asked Mr Allen if he thought it was acceptable that stewards contracted to work at the venue were under 18.

He said: “I’d like to think we’d have people with more experience.”

Mr Allen told the inquiry he had not been aware there was a CCTV blind spot in the foyer of the arena, and said the failure of staff to check the place where Salman Abedi was hiding was a “missed opportunity”.

Mr Greaney said: “Salman Abedi was 22 years of age, a dropout from university, he was entirely undistinguished in life, and you’ll probably have seen that he even struggled to get into the toilets.

“How was it that he managed to defeat the security arrangements at the arena that night?”

Mr Allen said: “Because I believe he blended in too well.”

Twenty-two people were killed and many more injured when Abedi detonated an explosive as fans left an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

Mr Allen said making any changes to the security in the foyer before May 2017 would have depended on someone approaching the company and telling them the area was unsafe.

Mr Greaney said: “Would it be a fair criticism… that SMG were doing throughout this period, sitting on one side waiting for someone to tell them what to do?”

Mr Allen replied: “No.”

The court heard that since the attack, SMG had instructed a US firm to review security.

There are now between 30 and 35 walk through metal detectors used for events, and the CCTV system has been upgraded.

Mr Greaney said it would be an issue for the inquiry as to whether the changes could have been implemented before the attack and whether any more could be done.

The inquiry continues.

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