The families of those who died have been devastated by these events and those who were injured will live with the effects for the rest of their lives.
The explosion that brought about these appalling consequences was caused by Salman Abedi detonating a bomb in the City Room, an area close to one of the exit doors from the Arena. These events will be referred to in the Report as ‘the Attack’. He chose a place where members of the audience were meeting up with parents and others who had come to collect them. The audience was principally made up of young people. Salman Abedi killed himself in the explosion, but he intended that as many people as possible would die with him.
It was a wicked act, inspired by the distorted ideology of the so-called Islamic State. It was designed to attack our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy. We cannot allow fear of further terrorist attacks to achieve that.
The responsibility for the events of 22nd May 2017 lies with Salman and Hashem Abedi, his younger brother. Rather than use their full names, throughout the remainder of this Report, I shall refer to them as SA and HA. I have had in mind while writing this Report, as everyone who reads it should, that responsibility rests with them. This volume of my Report and those which follow must nonetheless examine the actions of others. I must decide whether more could and should have been done to stop SA detonating his bomb on 22nd May and to respond to the detonation when it occurred.
This Inquiry cannot remove the hurt of those who have suffered the loss of a child, partner, relative or friend. It cannot ease the pain from the physical or psychological injuries that were suffered. What it can seek to do is reduce the risk of such an event happening again and, if it does, mitigate the harm it causes.
In order to try and identify recommendations which will have this effect, it has been necessary to subject the lead up to and the events on 22nd May to intense scrutiny. As a result, some individuals and some organisations will be the subject of criticism. That is because, without examining what went wrong and why, I could not identify improvements.
After the deaths, inquests had to take place. In August 2018 I was appointed by the Lord Chief Justice and the Chief Coroner to conduct those inquests as the nominated judge to sit as the Coroner.
Following a ruling I made in 2019 about the relevance of material to which public interest immunity attaches, the Inquiry was established in October 2019 in order to permit me to investigate that material. Evidence within the scope of the inquests will form part of the material I consider in the Inquiry.
There are a number of ways in which the fact that I am conducting my investigation within the framework of a statutory public inquiry has brought benefits. Over and above the fact that I am now permitted to scrutinise material which could not have been considered within the inquests, the public inquiry framework requires me to write this Report. As a result, the detail and analysis that I am able to address in writing is greater. While this Inquiry and my Report can never repair the damage caused by SA and HA, it is my intention that it will seek to provide answers to the bereaved families, those who survived this terrible act and the public at large.