17 Jul Manchester Arena attack: ‘Suspicions raised’ about bomber Salman Abedi before he killed 22 people | UK News
Suspicions were raised by a member of the public about Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi before he detonated his homemade device at an Ariana Grande concert, it has emerged.
On 22 May 2017, 22 people – including children – were killed and hundreds others were injured after the explosive, which was packed with shrapnel, went off as crowds began leaving the event.
It has now emerged that a member of the public had “expressed” suspicions about Abedi, who was carrying a large rucksack on his back and spent an hour hanging around the City Room – the foyer of the concert venue – before detonating his device.
Kyle Lawler, who was 18 at the time and working for Showsec, which provided security and stewarding for the arena, also saw Abedi in the City Room after the suspicions were raised.
The details came to light in a ruling by Sir John Saunders, chairman of the public inquiry into the attack.
He said Mr Lawler should be granted “core participant” status in the forthcoming inquiry, and therefore be represented by lawyers, as he “may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the inquiry proceedings or in the report, or in any interim report”.
Sir John’s ruling was published on Friday after Mr Lawler’s lawyers made the application to represent him at the public inquiry at a preliminary hearing on Monday.
The chairman said: “Kyle Lawler was working in the City Room area.
“The written evidence suggests that he saw Salman Abedi on the night of the attack, before he detonated the bomb, after suspicions about him had been expressed by a member of the public.”
Sir John added: “In an experts’ report commissioned by me on security arrangements at the arena on the night of the bombing, concerns have been raised as to whether Kyle Lawler should have taken more action to draw attention to Salman Abedi’s presence and the fact that it was suspicious.
“Kyle Lawler has made statements relating to what happened on the night and is due to give evidence to the inquiry.
“I emphasise that my conclusion is only that Mr Lawler may have played a significant role or may be subject to explicit or significant criticism. I am not saying that that will be my ultimate finding, which will depend on the evidence that I hear.”
Abedi, 22, who was born in Manchester to Libyan parents, had planned the suicide attack for months along with his brother Hashem Abedi.
The 23-year-old was convicted in March of 22 counts of murder following a trial at the Old Bailey, and is due to be sentenced next month.
The public inquiry is set to begin in September.