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The Manchester Arena Inquiry has now concluded. The closure notice from the Inquiry Chairman is available here.

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

Reliance on Showsec

It was denied on Showsec’s behalf that Showsec was an expert in counter-terrorism.304 Dr BaMaung accepted that they did not market themselves as having significant expertise.305 Miriam Stone said that she thought Showsec had “expertise in counter-terrorism”.306 She cited a presentation given by Showsec in April 2016 as one part of the basis for this belief. I will deal with this presentation below. Miriam Stone stated that she expected Showsec to have told her if “they had seen something they thought was amiss”.307

Mark Harding agreed that Showsec was providing SMG with counter-terrorism input, in the sense that Showsec “provide some of those counter-terrorism services within the training of our staff. So an SIA licence-holder may well be asked to conduct counter-terrorism activities and we would help SMG with that process. So I think they were reliant on us to provide some of those services.”308

There are a number of pieces of evidence which reveal that Showsec did consider it had some expertise in counter-terrorism and, implicitly or explicitly, held itself out as having such expertise.

First, the Showsec training included a counter-terrorism module, the content of which I will deal with in greater detail in Part 6. This module was created by Showsec. Miriam Stone stated: “I assume that you have to be an expert in it to write a training course for your staff on it.”309

Second, three days after the Bataclan theatre attack, and in direct response to it, Showsec director Mark Logan sent an email to other senior Showsec staff.310 The opening paragraphs include:

“The company aims to deliver best practice through third party engagement on a local and national level and we seek to use the guidance being offered by the security services which I have copied into the narrative of the email. These practices should be embedded into operating plans, risk assessments, counter terrorism advice, briefing, training (please see the e-learning module for refreshment) and standard operating procedures.”311

Mark Logan stated of this passage that the word “advice” may have been “misplaced” and that the word “awareness” may have been more appropriate in its place.312

Also included within that email was a request that a review was conducted of “operating procedures” in light of the attack. The review Mark Logan envisaged, among other things, “Examin[ing] the control procedures, search templates, search queuing times, moving a queue to a place of safety, external operating environment, terms and conditions of entry.”313

Although this email was internal to Showsec, in my view it reveals Showsec’s view of itself and the extent of its own competence. This, in turn, will have informed the way in which Showsec presented itself to its customers and the way in which it spoke about its own capabilities as an organisation.

Mark Logan’s email was a responsible reaction to the Bataclan theatre attack. Implicit within it is that Showsec regarded itself as having the necessary in-house knowledge and experience to conduct the work he wanted to be carried out. Mark Logan went on to state his belief that his instruction was the “genesis”314 of the document “Counter Terrorism Awareness 2017: Manchester Arena” (the Counter Terrorism Awareness 2017 document).315

I will deal in further detail in Part 6 with the content of “Counter Terrorism Awareness 2017: Manchester Arena”. It is sufficient to say here that implicit in the creation of this document was that Showsec regarded itself as competent to produce such a document. It involved both judgment about what available open-source material should be included in it, as well as how that information should be tailored for the specific circumstances of the Arena. This document is the third piece of evidence which has informed my conclusions on this point.

Fourth, in April 2016 Mark Logan and his fellow director, Simon Battersby, gave a presentation to the National Arenas Association (NAA) and the European Arenas Association (EAA). This presentation was attended by 40 to 50 people, including Miriam Stone and James Allen.316 The presentation was entitled “The Role of Event Security in a CT Environment” (the NAA and EAA presentation).317 Showsec was the only organisation to give a presentation on this topic. Included within the content of the presentation was a summary of attack methodologies together with advice of general application such as the importance of creating a “coordinated approach”.

“External and internal patrols” appear in a list under the heading ‘Security Operation’.318 Mark Logan stated of this list that the items in it were offered as “component parts or parts of our service”.319 I will return to the issue of patrolling in Part 6.

The fact that Showsec was prepared to give this presentation at this event indicates that Showsec regarded itself as having the necessary knowledge and experience to do so.

Fifth, although Thomas Bailey stated that Showsec did not provide counter-terrorism expertise to the Arena, when asked whether he had ever been asked to give SMG counter-terrorism advice, he stated “Not beyond the limitations of what we could give.”320 In the context of the other evidence, I regard this as further confirmation of the way in which Showsec was presenting itself to the outside world, which included speaking knowledgeably about its own counter-terrorism role.

All of the above has led me to conclude that Showsec held itself out as having expertise in counter-terrorism within the context of crowd management and security. Showsec did not market itself as providing counter-terrorism advice to SMG so far as the conduct of SMG’s operation was concerned, nor did the contractual agreement expressly provide for such advice. As such, while Miriam Stone was entitled to expect Showsec to point out issues related to counter-terrorism as they might have directly arisen from the way in which Showsec was conducting its own operation, she was not entitled to regard Showsec as playing a similar role to the one played by the company SMG contracted with after the Attack. I did not understand Miriam Stone to be suggesting that she had relied upon Showsec to that extent.

I found the apparent dispute between SMG and Showsec about the extent of Showsec’s counter-terrorism role to be more imagined than real. It was substantially a product of a differing view about the meaning of the phrase “counter-terrorism expert”. The evidence established that both SMG and Showsec thought Showsec was competent to provide security services which included a counter-terrorism element. Neither SMG nor Showsec thought that Showsec had been retained to give detailed advice about SMG’s overall counter-terrorism strategy.

Accordingly, while Miriam Stone was entitled to rely upon Showsec to the extent she did, Showsec did not fill SMG’s substantial knowledge gap in relation to the effectiveness of its overall counter-terrorism strategy. For this, SMG needed specialist input from an appropriately qualified expert.