Dr BaMaung stated that in 2017 “there were probably quite a few arenas that didn’t have that in-house expertise.”This was consistent with other evidence. SMG relied upon what was said to be industry practice as part of the justification for not retaining a suitably qualified person or organisation comprehensively to review and advise on the entirety of the security measures at the Arena.
This is not an adequate justification for SMG failing to obtain such advice prior to the Attack. SMG is a world leader in event management.It was, and is, a very substantial organisation. The Arena was one of the largest venues in Europe. Over one million people attended events there every year. The unique configuration of the Victoria Exchange Complex and the complications that created meant that relying on standard industry practice is not an answer. Expert counter-terrorism input tailored to the demands of the Arena, including the City Room, was necessary. This required a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of SMG’s operation by a person or organisation qualified to do so.
Whether or not it was a common practice generally in 2017,shortly after the Attack and without apparent delay or real difficulty, SMG was able to obtain the services of expert security consultants. Within three weeks of the Attack, representatives of SMG and Showsec met with SMG’s new advisors. Within four months of the Attack, the Arena was able to reopen operating under a plan which had been designed in consultation with those independent experts. Additionally, SMG has retained a security director to provide it with security expertise, which it could have done prior to 22nd May 2017.