Survivors of Manchester Arena attack sue M15 for compensation for failing to stop bomber

Survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing are suing the UK’s security service MI5 for compensation, claiming the agency could have prevented the horrific attack eight years ago.

Twenty-two people died and hundreds were injured when suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, detonated a bomb he was carrying in a ruck sack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in 2017. Those who died included Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Adel, Leeds; Courtney Boyle, a 19-year-old Leeds Beckett University student, and Wendy Fawell, 50, from Otley.

A 250-strong group, including relatives of those who died, has lodged a complaint with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

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The Sunday Times reported that lawyers are arguing that officers’ negligence breached the “right to life” guaranteed by the Human Rights Act.

Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

The IPT is an independent public body which investigates complaints about the alleged conduct of public bodies in relation to members of the public under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.

It is the first time MI5 has been taken to court by survivors over a domestic terrorist incident.

A public inquiry, established by former Home Secretary Priti Patel in 2019 to investigate the deaths of the victims, found MI5 missed a “significant” chance to take action that might have stopped the bombing.

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The inquiry heard that Manchester-born Abedi had been on the radar of the security services as early as 2010 - seven years before the bombing on May 22, 2017.

In his third and final report chairman, retired judge Sir John Saunders, said intelligence could have led to the former Salford University student being followed to the parked Nissan Micra where he stored his explosives and later moved them to a city-centre rented flat to assemble his bomb.

He said that if MI5 had acted on the intelligence received then Abedi could also have been stopped at Manchester Airport on his return from Libya four days before the attack. Sir John found that “there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained which might have led to actions preventing the attack.”

MI5 director-general Ken McCallum issued an apology saying he was “profoundly sorry” MI5 did not prevent the attack. He said: "Gathering covert intelligence is difficult but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma." Last year the father of the youngest victim, Saffie Roussos, said MI5 had let Abedi “slip through the cracks”. Andrew Roussos told Sky News: "They know the threat, they know what these people do and don't do, they know where to look and not to look, and they were more prepared than what Manchester was that night - so MI5, for me, have got blood on their hands."

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The claimants are represented by three law firms Hull-based Hudgell Solicitors, Slater & Gordon and Broudie Jackson Canter. They confirmed a claim had been made but said they could not provide further comment. MI5 was approached for comment.