Autistic Bristol teenager Oliver McGowans death was avoidable

The parents of a teenager who died after being prescribed an anti-psychotic drug say his death was caused by “ignorance and arrogance” of medics.

A new independent review found Oliver McGowan’s death at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, was “potentially avoidable”.

His parents Paula and Tom McGowan said they repeatedly told doctors he should not be given the drug and have called for a new inquest to be held.

A police investigation into Oliver’s death continues.

North Bristol NHS Trust said staff who cared for Oliver “did their very best” and that it would act on the findings.

Oliver, who was mildly autistic and had epilepsy and learning difficulties, was being treated for a seizure in 2016 when he was given olanzapine to sedate him.

The 18-year-old from Bristol died in intensive care 17 days later after a rare side effect caused his brain to swell.

The learning disability mortality review (LeDeR) into the death said that if Oliver had been assessed correctly on admission to hospital and staff had read his hospital passport, he may never have needed to be intubated and sedated.

It said: “There was a general lack of understanding and acknowledgement of Oliver’s autism and how he presented himself when in seizure.

“Despite there being a body of written evidence – alongside verbal requests from Oliver and his family – not to prescribe olanzapine, there was no substantial evidence to illustrate that consideration had been given to explore alternatives to anti-psychotic medication.”

Oliver’s parents said they “had always known his death was avoidable”.

“It is our opinion that Oliver died as the result of ignorance and arrogance of doctors who were treating him. Doctors who absolutely refused to listen to Oliver’s direct instructions and to us,” said Ms McGowan.

An inquest in 2018 ruled that the use of olanzapine was appropriate but the McGowans have now called for a fresh inquest, saying the first was “deeply flawed”.

Fiona Richie, OBE, Chair of the Independent Review, said: “We hope the completion of Oliver’s LeDeR and the wider recommendations for national change to the LeDeR programme, will be a part of Oliver’s legacy and drive the change that is so urgently needed to prevent future deaths.”

North Bristol NHS Trust Chief Executive Andrea Young said: “The staff who cared for Oliver did their very best in managing his complex needs.

“We are determined to offer exceptional care for individuals with learning disabilities and autism and we have significantly improved training and support for staff.”

Parole system in England and Wales secretive

A man whose grandfather has just been released from prison – after killing his wife 35 years ago – has told the BBC the parole process in England and Wales is “secretive” and “coy”.

Neil Gillingham has called for “greater scrutiny” of Parole Board hearings.

It comes as a review of the parole system is to consider whether victims and journalists should be allowed to attend hearings.

The reforms aim to improve the transparency of decisions.

The first step of the review will be a public consultation, according to the government.

The Parole Board came in for heavy criticism after a decision two years ago to free John Worboys, known as the black cab rapist. His release was overturned by the courts and he then admitted further crimes.

Following the Worboys case, ministers pledged to improve transparency over Parole Board decisions, which currently take place after hearings held in private, usually behind closed doors in prisons.

Chief executive of the Parole Board Martin Jones told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he welcomed the idea, but said there were difficulties that needed to be overcome.

Mr Gillingham’s grandmother Carole Packman was murdered in 1985 by his grandfather Russell Causley, who has just been released from prison after the Parole Board ruled he was not a risk to the public.

Speaking to Today, Mr Gillingham said victims and their families have limited influence over decisions.

“The parole process I’ve always described as incredibly secretive, there is no transparency,” he said.

“In terms of the input that the victim has [through the process] it is nothing more than a tick box exercise. It’s an element for the Parole Board to be able to say that the victim has been listened to.”

Mr Gillingham added that information following a decision is also “incredibly limited”.

“To give you an example, ‘Russell Causley poses an emotional risk to Samantha Gillingham [his mother] and a physical risk to Neil Gillingham’,” he said.

“But they would never go into detail into how that risk is quantified.”

Mr Gillingham said he was in support of the review as “there needs to be greater scrutiny”, but he questioned why changes had not come sooner.

“Until I can go to a parole hearing, we convict in an open court, we release in a closed court,” he said.

Victims are currently allowed to attend parole hearings only to read a statement about the impact of an offender’s crime.

The review will look at whether they should be able to play a fuller role by observing hearings. Also under discussion will be whether the wider public and the media should have greater access to proceedings.

It will also examine whether parole panels should have more legal clout with powers like the courts to compel witnesses to attend hearings.

As part of the move to greater transparency the Parole Board now produces summaries of its decisions for victims and the public.

And the justice secretary, victims and prisoners are able to challenge Parole Board decisions without having to go through the courts.

Mr Jones said the review offered “a real opportunity to provide more transparency of our decision making”.

“Providing there are appropriate safeguards […] victims would be better able to understand why we make the decisions that we do, and indeed the wider public,” he said.

But he added that there were some difficulties to overcome, including where parole hearings currently take place – “physically in a prison” – and balancing the fact that there might be sensitive information mentioned about both the victim and the prisoner.

“There needs to be safeguards and balances in relation to information,” he said.

Mr Jones suggested parole hearings could be streamed for victims to attend remotely, or that a court room might be more suitable if it’s “a particularly tricky case” – allowing press to attend “as they do a normal crown court hearing”.

The proposed moves represent the biggest change to the system since parole boards were established almost 60 years ago.

The Ministry of Justice has said decisions on its review of the Parole Board system are set to be made by the end of the year once the results of the consultation are received.

Bridal couple posed on rail line for wedding shoot

A bridal couple who posed for wedding photographs on railway tracks in North Yorkshire have been condemned by Network Rail.

The couple were caught on CCTV standing on a line near Whitby in July.

More than 5,000 trespassing incidents were recorded between June and September, with many involving people using the railways as a backdrop for photos.

Network Rail said taking selfies and photo shoots were “plain stupidity”.

In September alone some 1,239 incidents were recorded – a 17 per cent rise.

Supt Alison Evans, of British Transport Police, said: “The railway is not an appropriate or safe setting for a photographic backdrop, no matter how scenic the setting.

“Every time someone strays on to the rail network they are not only putting themselves at risk of serious, life-threatening injury, but also delaying essential journeys.”

Hollyoaks actor Ellis Hollins was forced to apologise in July after posting images on social media from a photoshoot on the railway.

He admitted it was “irresponsible” and he was “careless to take part in such a dangerous situation”.

Network Rail has launched a “You vs Train” campaign in partnership with British Transport Police to highlight the issue of young people trespassing.

The number of incidents involving children at 51 targeted locations has fallen in each of the past two years.

Allan Spence, of Network Rail, said: “Wedding photos or selfies on the track are just plain stupidity.

“Please, make sure you know the rail safety basics and pass that knowledge onto your loved ones. Lead by example and stay off the tracks.”

Milton Keynes: Living in the shadow of a huge, horrible warehouse

A new warehouse, described as “oppressive” and “huge”, is at the centre of a planning row. Why is it so controversial and what is it like living in its shadow?

“It’s spoilt our estate; it’s spoilt our way of living. It’s miserable.”

Jenny Watson lives in a row of bungalows in Bessemer Court on Milton Keynes’ Blakelands estate.

Largely occupied by retirees, the roads are clean and well-kept. A nature reserve and lake are a five-minute stroll away.

For the 10 years she has lived there, Jenny’s home has backed on to a warehouse, but she says previous neighbours John Lewis were “absolutely brilliant”.

Other residents said they barely knew the retailer was there.

But John Lewis has gone, its Yeomans Drive warehouse replaced by a new facility, built by developer GUPI 6.

From the front, it is much like many others clustered close to access points to the M1 motorway.

But from Bessemer Court, the controversy is clear. It towers over those unassuming bungalows.

Bigger by 3,000 sq m (32,291 sq ft) than its predecessor, and taller by at least 6.5m (21ft), it is 11m (36ft) closer to the nearest bungalow.

Jenny, who lives with partner Russ Savage, calls it “an absolutely huge, horrible nightmare”.

“We are not going to get any light into the garden through winter,” she says.

“I love gardening. That has hit me more than anything.

“Everything we want for a happy life is against us with this building. It’s very depressing. You can’t get away from it. You feel suffocated.”

The couple were not planning to leave their home and are even having new heating installed.

“I’m in my 70s,” says Jenny. “I don’t want to be finding somewhere else to live.”

The 18m-high (59ft) warehouse was granted planning permission by Milton Keynes Council’s development control committee in May 2017.

Following an internal audit in February 2019, the council asked external planning expert, Marc Dorfman, to review the decision.

He started work that July. It was hoped his report would be ready in 20 working days.

More than a year later, there is no sign of it.

Yvonne Davies has lived in nearby Telford Way for 26 years.

“It’s a lovely area,” she says. “All the neighbours know each other. It’s a bit like being on holiday because you walk down the street and there’s always somebody to talk to.”

She wishes it was as easy to talk to MK Council.

According to an internal council document, after assessing the application in March 2017, senior planning officer Jeremy Lee wanted to refuse it.

Days later, an agent for the developers emailed his manager and the council’s chief planner, referring to “frustrations and concerns” with Mr Lee’s handling of the application.

The following day Mr Lee’s manager responded, saying the case had been “re-allocated to an officer who can dedicate the necessary time to the application”.

Yvonne is mystified. “The council can’t give us decent answers. What changed?

“Suddenly we are living in the middle of an industrial estate.

“They’ve taken away people’s quality of life and ruined a beautiful lake by plopping a great big tin shed on the side of it.”

Yvonne and Jenny’s fears go beyond the warehouse’s size.

“It’s empty. Nobody has been in it,” Jenny says.

When someone does move in, she fears it will be open 24/7, bringing “constant noise”.

A restriction currently limits its opening hours, but the developer is appealing and residents are nervous.

“While empty it is a horrible eyesore, but if it ever came into use…” says Yvonne, her voice trailing off.

With Mr Lee moved aside, the application was passed to another officer, Samantha Taylor.

At more than 20,000 sq m (215,000 sq ft), this application is many times the 1,000 sq m (10,763 sq ft) threshold for a major development.

It would have been a big case for an experienced planning officer, but according to LinkedIn, Ms Taylor had only graduated, albeit with a Masters in spatial planning, in 2015.

She joined the council having worked in the private sector for about a year and a half.

In March 2017, she emailed the developer’s agent saying she was reviewing the application and would soon be able to confirm what the officer recommendation would be.

By the time the application reached the planning committee, she had recommended its approval.

Two MK Council sources have since told the BBC Ms Taylor wanted to reject it.

She has not responded to requests for comment.

When councillors eventually voted to approve the warehouse, it was with 23 conditions attached

By the time the decision notice was finalised, it listed just 10.

Those missing included conditions requiring a noise barrier be built and the retention of trees and hedges.

Residents only realised the conditions were missing when trees were cut down.

Senior council officers say they only became aware of the missing conditions months after the decision notice went out in January 2018.

An internal audit began, but before its completion, Ms Taylor had left the council.

Five days after she finished work on 9 November 2018, her manager wrote in an email that Ms Taylor had “unhelpfully deleted all of her emails in all folders and wiped her h:drive”.

The manager questioned whether what “she has done is a breach of conduct”.

From their pretty garden in Telford Way, Richard and Davina Scholefield cannot see the warehouse.

From upstairs, however, its bulk is all too apparent.

“We said ‘Please could you put something more in keeping with the surroundings there?’,” Davina says.

Having formerly worked as a council officer in nearby Luton, she cannot understand the planning processes undertaken in Milton Keynes.

Such controversies are not confined to Blakelands.

In September 2018 the council’s chief planner, Brett Leahy, drew up a list of other times when, after councillors had considered planning applications, errors were made in paperwork.

His list includes 21 other applications made between 2015 and 2017. Several are said to have had conditions missing.

For more than a year, councillors were unaware of the list’s existence. It was finally emailed to a small group of them in July.

In a statement, lawyers for developer GUPI 6 said the council had been aware the new warehouse was replacing an existing building which “was not subject to any restrictions on its hours of operation”.

It said evidence had been submitted showing “residents’ concerns about possible noise impacts were not justified”.

The statement said further evidence has been submitted to an ongoing appeal showing the restriction on the hours of operation “can be lifted without unacceptable impacts on neighbouring homes”.

In relation to the planning process, the statement said it was against a backdrop of “unjustified delays” which “created prolonged uncertainty for residents as well as impacting on the developer, that GUPI 6 Limited expressed their concern and frustration”.

Regarding the missing conditions, it said: “The error was pointed out to the council by GUPI, who diligently continued to comply with those conditions as if they had been attached to the planning permission.”

It also said that is has since reapplied for, and been granted, planning permission with the missing conditions reinstated.

A Milton Keynes Council spokesman said: “An independent review of this planning decision is under way and the council will consider and respond to the recommendations made following the completion of the review.”

Bletchley Parks contribution to WW2 over-rated

Code-breaking hub Bletchley Park’s contribution to World War Two is often over-rated by the public, an official history of UK spy agency GCHQ says.

The new book – Behind the Enigma – is released on Tuesday and is based on access to top secret GCHQ files.

“Bletchley is not the war winner that a lot of Brits think it is,” the author, Professor John Ferris of the University of Calgary, told the BBC.

But he said Bletchley still played an important role.

And GCHQ had a significant influence in other conflicts, according to the signals intelligence historian.

GCHQ, known as Britain’s listening post, was set up on 1 November 1919 as a peacetime “cryptanalytic” unit.

During World War Two, staff were moved to Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, to decrypt Nazi Germany’s messages including, most famously of all, the Enigma communications.

This provided an inside view of Nazi orders and movements.

The work was kept secret for decades but an official history of British intelligence in the war would later say it had shortened the conflict by two to four years and without it the outcome would have been uncertain.

Bletchley Park remains the most iconic success in British code-breaking and intelligence gathering. But some of the mythology surrounding it has masked the reality, the new book argues.

Nazi Germany actually had the advantage when it came to intelligence and code-breaking for the early part of the war because Britain’s own communication security was so poor.

Eventually, Britain overtook the Germans and Bletchley carried out “amazing” work which did hasten victory, but not necessarily by the amount some previous estimates have claimed.

“Intelligence never wins a war on its own,” says Prof Ferris.

He was given extensive access to the secret files of the intelligence agency, although some limits were placed on what he could see and write about, including more recent interceptions of other country’s diplomatic messages and some of the technical secrets of code-breaking.

The book provides a detailed sweep of the agency’s contribution from its founding after World War One through to the cyber age of today, including the impact of revelations from US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Prof Ferris writes that a “cult of Bletchley” has protected GCHQ and boosted its reputation, and argues that the fact he is able to raise questions about it show GCHQ was sincere in giving him freedom to come to his own conclusions.

“GCHQ is probably Britain’s most important strategic asset at the moment and will probably remain that way for generations,” he says.

“I think that Britain gains from keeping it strong and world class, but at the same time, you need to put in proportion what it is you can and cannot get from intelligence.”

Bletchley was still a high-point, he said, because of the ability to get inside the enemy’s strategic communications.

This was not possible against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, although GCHQ was still able to provide the majority of intelligence about its adversary’s military thanks to innovative work in studying the patterns of communications.

Prof Ferris also argues the agency’s contribution was particularly important in the 1982 Falklands Conflict.

“I don’t think Britain could have won the Falklands conflict without GCHQ,” Prof Ferris told the BBC.

He said because GCHQ was able to intercept and break Argentine messages, British commanders were able to know within hours what orders were being given to their opponents, which offered a major advantage in the battle at sea and in retaking the islands.

“They understand what the Argentines planned to do. They understand how exactly the Argentines were deploying their forces.”

The book provides new details on the controversial sinking of the Argentine warship Belgrano and over whether enough was done to warn of the invasion.

“It was a failure of policy, as far as I’m concerned, rather than a failure of intelligence,” Prof Ferris told the BBC.

The book also details the close alliance with the US which persists to this day and how the make-up of staff who work at the agency, now based in Cheltenham, has changed over time.

In a foreword, the current director of the intelligence agency, Jeremy Fleming writes: “GCHQ is a citizen-facing intelligence and security enterprise with a globally recognised brand and reputation. We owe all of that to our predecessors.”

Concern over Welsh firebreak job support gap

A gap between the start of Wales’ lockdown and the UK government’s new Job Support Scheme is a “significant barrier” for firms trying to survive, a business group has said.

A scheme to cover 67% of wages is not due to start until 1 November – just over a week after the firebreak starts.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) urged the UK and Welsh governments to work together.

The Treasury said employers could use furlough until the end of October.

“There is no gap in funding between our schemes,” a spokesman said.

However, CBI Wales director Ian Price warned some people may fall between the cracks of furlough and the new Job Support Scheme (JSS).

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has declined to bring the JSS forward, but the Welsh Government said it would pay for the full cost – including the wages covered.

The Welsh Government wrote to Mr Sunak asking if firms could access the scheme a week earlier.

In a letter to Mr Drakeford, Mr Sunak said he was “unable to bring the claims date for the expansion to the Jobs Support Scheme forward from 1 November to 23 October due to limitations in HMRC delivery times”.

He said employees who have been furloughed for at least three weeks in the past can be re-furloughed until 31 October.

However, people who have never been furloughed will not be covered.

The firebreak, which will see pubs, restaurants, cafes and non-essential shops shut, is due to start on Friday.

Conservative Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has accused First Minister Mark Drakeford of taking a decision that would cause people to lose their jobs.

The JSS plans to cover 67% of workers wages in businesses that have been forced to close.

It pays up to a maximum of £2,100 a month and staff must be off for seven days to be eligible. Payments are due to begin in December.

It replaces furlough, which ends on 31 October and covered 80% of pay, with government paying 60% and employers 20%.

Ben Cottam of FSB Wales urged the UK government to “urgently respond” to Welsh Government’s request and said the offer to pay the cost of the extension was a “practical response”.

“The current one-week gap between the beginning of lockdown on the 23 October and the beginning of the Job Support Scheme is a significant barrier for businesses who are working incredibly hard to stay afloat,” he said.

“In order to inspire confidence in businesses at this difficult time, as well as help minimise uncertainty and remove as many of the hurdles that firms will be facing as possible, we urge UK and Welsh Government to work together in order to make this happen”.

Mr Price said: “It appears that some people may unfortunately being falling through the cracks of the JRS and JSS.

“It’s imperative for business, government and employees that we make this work.”

The Welsh Government said its offer to pay to bring the scheme forward a week “would have meant Welsh businesses and employees being able to access this funding a week ahead of when the scheme is due to open on 1 November”.

On Monday, Mr Hart said the Welsh Government knew “full well” it was not possible for the Treasury to bring forward the JSS before announcing the lockdown.

He said the lockdown announcement was “very, very unfair” on people “caught by the time gap” before the start of the JSS.

But Plaid Cymru said it was a “question of fairness”.

Liz Saville Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said: “A firebreak gives us the opportunity to buy more time to build up a resilient test, trace and isolate system.

“But for that to work, the UK government must also do its part by giving appropriate financial support.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Employers in Wales can use the furlough scheme until 31 October to help them through this difficult period and can then get support through our new Job Support Scheme from 1 November.”

A UK government source said the chancellor called all finance ministers before the announcement of the expansion of the scheme to explain how it would work, when it would come into effect and that it would be UK-wide.

He asked finance ministers to keep restrictions as consistent as possible across the devolved nations, the source said.

Flooding: Conversation needed on risk in Wales

A “conversation” is needed on how flood risk is managed as the Welsh Government “cannot stop all flooding”, the environment minister has said.

Its new 10-year flooding and coastal erosion strategy includes an online map so residents can check their risk.

It is hoped it will encourage people to think about changes to their properties to reduce the impact of any flooding.

This could include moving sockets higher up walls or investing in stone or wooden floors instead of carpet.

One in eight Welsh homes – around 245,000 properties – is at risk of flooding, and a further 400 homes could be lost to coastal erosion.

Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths said she wanted everyone to be clear about how they could “play their part”.

It follows the worst flooding Wales has seen in over 40 years when Storms Ciara and Dennis hit earlier this year.

The Welsh Government said it was investing “record” amounts in flood prevention – between 2016 and 2021 it spent a total of £390m, reducing the risk for more than 45,000 properties.

The strategy plans for better communication of the threat posed in future.

The online map will be updated every six months and it will also show how flood defences are working. The aim is to bring down the cost of residents’ insurance and provide “peace of mind” to affected communities.

The Welsh Government wants people to sign up to phone alert services, such as the flood alert one run by Natural Resources Wales, and talk with neighbours to create emergency action plans.

It also said it had made it easier for local authorities to access grant funding for flood defence work and had introduced a new £2m natural flood management programme.

This will see projects such as planting trees and shrubs to slow the flow of surface water into rivers and drains after heavy rain.

Sion Street in Pontypridd was one of those completely submerged after the River Taff breached its banks during Storm Dennis in February.

Kevin and Zsuzsanna Kidner lost all their belongings from the ground floor of their house, with 4ft (1.2m) of water in the living room.

It has taken seven months to renovate the house, with the decorators finishing just last week.

“It’s been really hard – a nightmare,” Mrs Kidner said.

“It’s so nice to be able to sit and watch TV again and wash the dishes in the kitchen. I’d been using the bathroom sink and we were even cooking on camping stoves in the garden.”

As well as being flooded directly from the river, Mr Kidner said the water “filled the drains and came up at the back of the house as well”.

He thinks the drains need to be cleaned more regularly and wants regular inspections to check culverts are not blocked.

“There was a water pump in the street that never worked,” Mrs Kidner claimed. “These things should be trialled regularly – [like] a fire drill.”

A short walk along the river at music venue Clwb y Bont, which also flooded during the storm, chairman Geraint Day said they were applying for grant funding from the Welsh Government to try to protect the building against flooding in future.

“We’re looking to see how we can make the club more flood-friendly if you like – and that if water does manage to get in that it doesn’t have the same long-term effect,” he said.

“We still have concerns though that nothing has changed so far in the way water flow is managed in Pontypridd. I don’t see anything different in place now that there was in February.”

Rhondda Cynon Taf council has been asked to comment.

Mocked Mini Metro turns 40 and finds new fans

There are about 300 cars at the British Motor Museum in Warwickshire – but only one is adorned with 1,000 signatures.

The significance of that vehicle, tucked away alongside some of the greatest cars ever produced in Britain, is revealed by its number plate.

R100 END was the last Metro ever built at the Longbridge factory in Birmingham, and the signatures on its paintwork are from the men and women that helped to produce it.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Metro launch, and an online exhibition has been created by the British Motor Museum to celebrate a car that divided opinion.

Originally under the Austin marque, the first model was designed in just over six weeks. The cheapest model was £3,095, undercutting its main rival, the Ford Fiesta, by £65.

Seventeen years later, now badged as the Rover 100, Metro number 2,078,219 became the final car to emerge from the production line.

The demise of the Metro was not widely mourned, but 40 years on from its launch, it is not difficult to find fans.

Online, there seems to be a growing affection from a younger generation of enthusiasts – in many cases fuelled by family nostalgia.

“We’ve got a loads of cars in our collection here and we like to celebrate the ordinary as being extraordinary, just as much as the super cars,” says Cat Griffin, curator at the British Motor Museum.

“Sometimes you’ll have a great moment in the museum where someone who actually worked on the car can find their name here on it.

“And it’s those little connections of people learning to drive in the Metro, people’s first car being the Metro – and that’s what they connect with.”

Not all surviving Metros are of the quality on show at Gaydon. Ask someone what they associate with the car, and rust might feature towards the top end of the list.

That’s why Gerrard Shaw, who runs the Metropower website, keeps his beloved Metro safely tucked away.

“It only comes out on special occasions these days,” admits the 29-year-old from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

“The worst thing for Metros is rust, absolutely the worst. Mine stays out for the nice days and the shows. It leads a very spoiled life.”

Mr Shaw finds himself at the forefront of a movement to preserve and enhance the reputation of the Metro.

“I think it’s gone full circle over time. When it came out, it was quite a brave hope for the future.

“You can see the Top Gear features in the 90s when it started rusting a bit, and they’re seen as a banger, a little bit of a joke.”

Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge character put the boot in too. A BBC sketch where he repeatedly says “I’m not driving a Mini Metro” has been watched more than half a million times on YouTube.

But now there appears to be an emotional renaissance.

“When I’m out in the Metro, you get people saying ‘yay, I had one of those’,” said Mr Shaw.

“And I have it at shows, you get people coming over ‘it was my first car, it was my parents’ car’.

“It seems like a good memory for everyone. It triggers something, family, friends. And I think they are shocked to still see them out on the road.”

At Biggin Hill in Kent, David Collins perfectly fits the brief of a modern Metro man.

“Dad saw it as a better Mini. Hatchback, five seats, better engine, more comfortable, a bit more modern,” the 28-year-old said.

Father and son used to display their Metros at classic car shows, and David remembers the sniggers.

“I just like an underdog,” he said. “Metros were always considered the dowdy city cars.

“It is kind of sad you don’t see them any more and there’s half as many left as there are Minis, or XR2s or GTIs or whatever, but I just like the uniqueness and the underdog feel of it.”

He said classic car enthusiasts now appeared to be warming to the Metro.

“For so long they were mocked, ‘what do you want one of them for?’ And even now if you do speak to people of a certain age and tell them you’ve got a classic car, they still see the Metro as a daily old car.

“You can’t go around saying they are the best car ever because they’re not.

“But they deserve to get their recognition now. They’re a good little car.”

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Senior police officer was on unacceptable two-hour break

The most senior police officer on duty before the Manchester Arena attack had taken an “unacceptable” two-hour break before the bombing, the inquiry heard.

PC Jessica Bullough admitted she then missed bomber Salman Abedi walking from the train station into the arena.

The British Transport Police (BTP) officer had been qualified for only eight months, and was still in her probationary period.

The suicide bombing killed 22 people and injured many more on 22 May 2017.

The public inquiry into the attack heard there were no police officers on patrol when 22-year-old Abedi made his journey from Victoria Station to the arena foyer.

The hearing was told PC Bullough took a break of two hours and nine minutes, during which time Abedi walked from the tram stop into the City Room.

PC Bullough admitted her break should have been between 50 minutes and one hour.

The inquiry heard if she had come back 10 minutes earlier she would have seen Abedi carrying a large rucksack that contained explosives.

She said looking back, it was “unacceptable” to have taken a break of that length, and said she probably would not have done that had a supervisor been present.

PC Bullough was the first on the scene in the foyer after the suicide attack at the end of the Ariana Grande concert.

She said: “I think the training I had wasn’t sufficient to deal with what I was witnessing.”

Guy Gozem QC, representing some of the bereaved families, said: “Effectively did you feel left in the lurch?”

“Yes,” she replied.

BTP PCSO Lewis Brown said he and a colleague took a break before other officers had returned from theirs, meaning there were no one on patrol between just before 21:00 and 21:35 BST, when Abedi made his trip from the station into the foyer.

Meanwhile a father picking up his children on the night of the Manchester Arena attack told the inquiry he thought “straight away” that Abedi was a suicide bomber.

Neal Hatfield said when he saw Abedi in the foyer of the arena his rucksack did not look normal as it did not flex under his weight.

“It was rock solid, that’s what alarmed me straight away,” Mr Hatfield said.

Mr Hatfield was about to go up the stairs to the mezzanine area of the arena’s City Room when he saw Abedi with his back to him “in the process of lying down, he had a backpack on the floor next to him”.

“I thought suicide bomber straight away, very little doubt in my mind. Honestly, my heart was racing,” he said.

“The way he was dressed, the way he was acting, the body language was that he was trying to protect the bag. He was pretending to be casual, but I could see what he was doing.”

Mr Hatfield said he made eye contact with Abedi, who looked “emotionally distressed”.

“He seemed frightened, his eyes were glazed over and he seemed nervous, agitated, he didn’t seem right,” he added.

Mr Hatfield told the inquiry he saw two members of the security team nearby and believed they were having a conversation about Abedi, and gesturing towards him.

The inquiry continues.