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Public inquiries

Public inquiry experts representing families at the Manchester Arena Inquiry

On 22 October 2019, the Home Secretary announced that there would be a public inquiry into the terror attack that took place at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017. Slater and Gordon’s team of public inquiry specialists represent a number of the grieving families in this high profile inquiry.

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Manchester Arena Inquiry

On 22 May 2017, an Islamist extremist suicide bomber detonated a homemade bomb at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in the City of Manchester. There were 22 innocent people killed by the bomber and several hundred injured, many of which were children, given the nature of the concert.

Given the expertise of Slater and Gordon’s specialist team of public inquiry and inquest experts, we were recommended to a number of the survivors and bereaved families to represent them. Initially, we were representing them at the inquests and have continued to do so following the investigations conversion to a public inquiry. However, there are significant differences between inquests and inquires. One important difference is, the breadth and depth of the investigation is far wider in an inquiry than at an inquest and this is due to the different legislation and practices governing both procedures.

A further difference, highlighted by our involvement in this inquiry is although both inquests and inquiries are heard in an open forum as there’s a duty to make everything as public as possible in the interest of fairness and justice, if there’s evidence of a sensitive nature, a Chair of an inquiry can hold closed sessions, which are out of the public domain. However, at an inquest, this is not possible. This helps ensure all relevant evidence is considered and adds credibility to the investigation's findings.

Obviously, with regard to the Manchester Arena attack, a lot of evidence is of a very sensitive nature which concerns national security matters, which if heard in public would have the potential to make an attack more likely or response to such tragedy less effective.

As a result of this, Sir John Saunders, who acted as the Coroner conducting the inquests, ruled that disclosing some of the evidence would ‘assist terrorists’ in carrying out similar atrocities and therefore an ‘adequate investigation’ couldn’t be carried out within the inquests’ framework. He therefore wrote to the Home Secretary stating that a public inquiry was necessary and this was announced by the Home Secretary on 22 October 2019.

We’ve since developed an exceptional reputation for the way in which we’ve been representing survivors and bereaved families and as a result, we’re now representing others who transferred to us from other law firms. One law firm, which was under-resourced in public inquiry expertise, approached our team of experts and asked if we would also represent their client. They said they chose Slater and Gordon as they wanted a firm that was passionate, believed in what they were saying and was going to provide their client with the representation they deserved.

The inquiry will be heard in ‘chapters’. Each chapter will investigate a specific issue. As with any inquiry, we’ll look at all the evidence, decide what witnesses we’d like to call, propose questions to ask the witnesses and listen to the evidence. When we’ve heard everything, we’ll decide on recommendations and, hopefully, have those recommendations implemented.

Whilst the oral hearings are taking place, we’ll attend court every day, listen to the evidence and act dynamically on what’s presented. Survivors and families can also attend every day and participate and we’ll be there to support them throughout. However, there’s no obligation for them to attend and, understandably, not all clients want to attend each day and go over the trauma they’ve suffered week in and week out. If this is the case, we’ll ensure they’re fully informed at all times.

There’s a website about the Manchester Arena Inquiry which provides you with full details and other information. We’re currently preparing for the oral hearings, which are due to start at the beginning of September 2020 and are scheduled to continue until approximately April / May 2021.

Contact us

If a public inquiry has been announced which affects you and you believe you should be recognised as a Core Participant, read more about what we can do to help or simply contact our experts by emailing PublicInquiry@slatergordon.co.uk.

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