Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a rucksack bomb as fans left an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 individuals and injuring hundreds on 22 May 2017. His younger brother, Hashem was convicted of 22 counts of murder last month.
A preliminary hearing was held at Manchester Town Hall on 7 April 2020 via video link. Brenda Campbell QC, representing a group of 54 survivors made an application to Sir John Saunders, Chairman of the Inquiry, for them to receive ‘core participant’ status at the inquiry.
Whilst it is not necessary to be a core participant in order to give evidence to an Inquiry, a core participant is an individual, organisation or institution that has a specific interest in the work of the Inquiry, and has a formal role as defined by legislation. Core participants have special rights in the Inquiry process which include receiving disclosure of documentation, being legally represented and making legal submissions.
Ms Campbell QC stated that the scope of the Inquiry was to conduct a ‘full, fair and fearless’ examination of the incident and to gain an understanding of the wider circumstances of the attack and the aftermath so that ‘lessons can be learned’.
The Application was opposed by a number of the bereaved families and counsel to the Inquiry, Paul Greaney QC. Mr Greaney cited that including survivors as ‘core participants’ could delay the proceedings and the inquiry should focus on the 22 people who lost their lives. John Cooper QC informed the hearing that nine of the bereaved families ‘categorically’ opposed the application and there are concerns that it would divert attention away from the people who lost their lives in the attack. Mr Greaney suggested that survivors should be included in the inquiry as witnesses without lawyer representation.
Ms Campbell stated ‘none of those who I represent have been approached by this inquiry to date, to ascertain what evidence of value they may have.’ Furthermore, she claimed that although some have provided witness statements to the police to aid the criminal investigation that they also had knowledge that would assist the Inquiry.
Sir John Saunders is yet to make a decision.
The Inquiry was scheduled to take place this month but has been postponed until 7 September following the coronavirus outbreak.
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