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Volume 1: Security for the Arena
Volume 1: Security for the Arena (large format)

Showsec

Key findings

  • Showsec provided a crowd management and security service to SMG. Showsec had a counter-terrorism role to play at events as part of its crowd management and security role.
  • Showsec had a responsibility to event-goers in the City Room to take such steps as were reasonably practicable to keep them safe from a terrorist attack.
  • Showsec held itself out as having expertise in counter-terrorism when it came to its own activity.

Key employees

In 2017 Mark Harding was the managing director of Showsec International Limited (Showsec). He started working for Showsec as a steward in 1987. He became managing director in 2003. He was one of four directors, one other of whom was Mark Logan.127

Mark Logan began working for Showsec in 1991 and became a director in 2007.128 One of his roles as director was as line manager for Showsec’s health and safety department.129

Thomas Bailey joined Showsec in 2005. He was a supervisor before becoming operations executive in 2011. From 2012, he was one of two heads of security Showsec provided to the Arena. In addition to this role, from 2015, he was the senior contracts manager for the Arena and was area manager for the part of the country which included the Arena.130

Thomas Rigby, who was on duty as Showsec head of security on 22nd May 2017, joined Showsec in 2007. He started acting as head of security for the Arena from 2015 and was very experienced at undertaking this role.131

Between them, these four people had responsibility for making the key decisions on behalf of Showsec in relation to the matters relevant to the Inquiry. All of them were appropriately qualified and experienced in the roles that they undertook.

Showsec has a casual workforce of approximately 4,000 people.

On the night of the Attack the following people from Showsec, from whom the Inquiry heard, held significant roles at the Arena.

David Middleton was the senior supervisor for the area which included the City Room. By the time of the Ariana Grande concert, he had 21 years’ experience working for Showsec.132 He had worked at the Arena very many times prior to 22nd May 2017.133 He held an SIA door supervisor’s licence.134

Daniel Perry and Jordan Beak each worked as ‘access control’ in the City Room on 22nd May 2017.135 Both held SIA door supervisor licences.136 Daniel Perry had worked for Showsec since 2013.137 Jordan Beak had worked for Showsec for approximately two years prior to the Attack.138 I shall provide more detail in relation to SIA licences in Part 3.

Mohammed Agha, who was 19 years old at the time of the Attack,139 was allocated to the Grey Doors in the City Room.140 This position required him to hold an SIA licence.141 Mohammed Agha held an SIA door supervisor’s licence and had worked for Showsec at the Arena approximately 30 times prior to the Attack.142 He had started working for Showsec exactly one year previously.143 22nd May 2017 was the first time Mohammed Agha had worked on the Grey Doors in the City Room.144 It was also the first time that Mohammed Agha had worked for Showsec as the holder of an SIA door supervisor’s licence.145

Kyle Lawler and Robert Atkinson were deployed to the footbridge which gave access to the City Room from the station concourse. Kyle Lawler was 18 years of age.146 He had joined Showsec when he left school two years previously.147 His position required him to hold an SIA licence, which he did. Robert Atkinson held the position of steward, which did not require an SIA door supervisor’s licence. Robert Atkinson had worked for Showsec for six months.148

I will address the issue of the training relevant Showsec personnel had received in Part 6.

Agreement with SMG

Showsec provides crowd management and stewarding services to events at SMG venues.149 It has worked with SMG since 1995.150 From 2012, the relationship was governed by a stewarding services agreement between Showsec and SMG Europe Holdings.151 This agreement was not specific to the Arena, but covered all venues operated by SMG to which Showsec provided staff.152 In May 2017, Showsec provided staff to eight SMG venues in the UK, of which the Arena was one.153

Mark Harding was unaware that SMG Europe Holdings had obligations for security beyond events through the facilities management agreement.154 He stated that Showsec’s role was to provide security and crowd management at events.155

The stewarding services agreement does not expressly mention counter-terrorism at any point. However, it was accepted on Showsec’s behalf that it did have a counter-terrorism role to play at events as part of its crowd management and security role. This included the Ariana Grande concert. I will deal with this in more detail below.156

While counter-terrorism services were not specified in the contract, Showsec did hold itself out as having expertise in counter-terrorism when it came to its own activity. The extent to which SMG was entitled to rely upon Showsec when it came to counter-terrorism was a contentious issue between the two organisations in the course of the Inquiry. I will return to this in Part 5 when considering the issue of specialist counter-terrorism input.

Responsibility for people in the City Room

During events, Showsec had a permanent presence of staff in the City Room. It was necessary and appropriate for it to do so. Thomas Bailey’s evidence was that in delivering the stewarding services agreement between Showsec and SMG, part of delivering the security aspect of that agreement included counter-terrorism.157 He also accepted that Showsec had a responsibility to keep event-goers in the City Room safe from terrorists.158 He was correct to say both these things.

In its written opening statement Showsec stated: “Showsec accepts that as part of its duties in providing “Stewarding and Event Services” it was required to identify the risks associated with terrorism, plan to mitigate those risks and implement that plan.”159

As an employer, Showsec had obligations under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. These were in the form of a duty to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of non-employees who may be affected by its activity. This obligation undoubtedly included event-goers, as Showsec accepted.160

In my view, taking together Showsec’s responsibilities under the contract and its duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Showsec had a duty to take such steps as were reasonably practicable to keep event-goers safe from terrorist attack.

Unlike SMG, Showsec had not assumed a contractual responsibility for keeping everyone in the City Room safe. However, the distinction between event-goers, those who were in the City Room to meet event-goers and people who were waiting or passing through is academic. The practical effect of keeping event-goers safe would have been to keep everyone in the City Room safe.

In describing the distinction as academic, I am making no comment on whether or not Showsec had a legal obligation to people in the City Room beyond event-goers. Whether the same duties extended to people in the City Room who were not attending an event is not something that I need to decide.