Manchester Arena Inquiry: Boss denies security penny pinching

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Boss denies security penny pinching

The operators of Manchester Arena where 22 were killed in a terror attack have denied accusations of “penny pinching” and putting people’s lives at risk.

James Allen, arena manager, told the inquiry into the blast that he did not believe SMG had been “penny-pinching” on security prior to the terror attack.

Twenty-two people died in the bombing at the arena on 22 May 2017.

A lawyer acting on behalf of some of the bereaved families accused SMG of not paying for adequate security.

The inquiry heard how the risk level in the arena on the night of the blast was designated as low, despite the national threat level being classed as severe.

When asked by John Cooper QC if the arena risk level should have been higher, Mr Allen replied “Yes, possibly”.

The arena manager also conceded there would have been cost implications if the venue’s risk level had been elevated.

“SMG were far more interested in trying to get efficiency than making sure their security operation was fit for purpose,” Mr Cooper said.

“You’re penny pinchers, you skimp, you don’t pay for security properly and you put people’s lives at risk”.

Mr Allen rejected the assertions.

Adam Payter who is also representing some of the bereaved families, asked Mr Allen about documents written by Miriam Stone, the head of events at SMG.

The inquiry heard that due to the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016, she was asked by Mr Allen to save a proportion of the rising costs and make savings of £250 per event on staffing costs.

“Rather than considering increasing staff you were considering making budgetary savings?” Mr Payter said.

Mr Allen replied “Yes, potentially yes”.

The inquiry continues.

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