Father of youngest Manchester Arena victim plans to sue MI5

Agency bears ‘most of the blame’, says Andrew Roussos, whose eight-year-old daughter died in 2017 bombing

The father of the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing has said he intends to sue MI5 as it bears “most of the blame” for the attack.

The security service’s director general, Ken McCallum, issued a public apology after the inquiry into the May 2017 atrocity found it might have been prevented if MI5 had acted on intelligence received in the months before.

Saffie Roussos
Saffie Roussos. Photograph: Collect/PA

Andrew Roussos, the father of Saffie Roussos, who at eight years old was the youngest of the 22 people killed in the attack by suicide bomber Salman Abedi, which also injured hundreds, said he had instructed solicitors to look into suing the security service.

The Sunday Times reported that he said a number of other families had indicated that they might join him in the legal action.

Roussos’s solicitors, Broudie Jackson Canter, are looking at a possible high court claim that would rest upon article 2 of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to life.

Kim Harrison, the head of public inquiries at Slater and Gordon, which represents 11 of the bereaved families, said: “We will of course on behalf of our clients be carefully scrutinising each of the three volumes of the inquiry reports and carefully considering with our clients the next steps, including potential civil claims. However, for legal reasons we will not be saying anything further at this stage.”

Explaining why he intends to sue MI5, Roussos told Times Radio: “It’s the only way to learn. Everybody learns by hitting them hard in the pocket, I am sorry to say.

“At 2017 we were at the highest alert and everybody was warned of an attack in this country, and MI5 – who their sole job, they are well funded and well equipped – had 22 pieces of information about Salman Abedi.

“So, if they would have learned lessons, they wouldn’t have allowed Abedi to walk into that arena. So, yes, MI5 have, for me, most of the blame.”

He added: “Salman Abedi should not have made it to that arena that night. There were too many missed opportunities.”

Roussos said the apology from MI5 had come too late for him, and added: “I can’t accept apologies for losing Saffie. I want Saffie back in my life and I can’t have that.”

In his 207-page report, the inquiry’s chairman, Sir John Saunders, highlighted that if intelligence had been followed up immediately, it could have led to Abedi, 22, being followed to the parked Nissan Micra where he stored the explosive, which he later moved to a rented flat in the city centre to assemble.

The chairman added that Abedi also could have been stopped at Manchester airport on his return from Libya four days before the attack.


Helen Pidd North of England editor

The GuardianTramp

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