Father of youngest Manchester Arena victim set to sue MI5 for failures

Father of youngest Manchester Arena victim set to sue MI5 for failures

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

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

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

Saffie Roussos funeral
Andrew Roussos carries the coffin of his daughter Saffie (Danny Lawson)

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

Mr Roussos’ solicitors, Broudie Jackson Canter, are looking at a possible High Court claim which would rest upon Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to life.

Speaking on Times Radio, Mr Roussos said: “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 learnt lessons they wouldn’t have allowed Abedi to walk into that arena.

“So yes MI5 have, for me, most of the blame.”

He added: “It’s alright saying that Manchester wasn’t prepared that night, which it wasn’t, and the arena was so not prepared for such an attack, for me knowing the information we knew at the start, Salman Abedi should not have made it to that arena that night, there were too many missed opportunities.”

Mr Roussos said that 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.

“An apology for missing 22 opportunities to stop the attacker, how can I accept an apology.

“If you want to make an apology something meaningful, apologise from day one, that would mean a lot more than waiting for an inquiry to see if you are in any way, shape or form to blame for this attack.”

Describing his daughter, he said: “I find this so difficult to explain what she was like when people ask me, she was just a bundle of love and joy and one of a kind that we miss dearly and wish that we could have her back.

“She was just a human magnet full of love, beautiful from top to toe and just a one-of-a-kind child who will always be sadly missed.”

In his 207-page report, inquiry 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, and which he later moved to a rented city centre flat 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.

Sir John’s report on the circumstances surrounding the bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert also focused on the radicalisation of Manchester-born Abedi, of Libyan descent.

Evidence into the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the atrocity was heard in the city between September 7 2020 and February 15 2022.

Two previous reports into the terror attack were issued by Sir John.

The first was in June 2021 and highlighted a string of “missed opportunities” at the arena venue to identify Abedi as a threat before he walked across the City Room foyer and detonated his shrapnel-laden device.

Sir John’s second report last November delivered scathing criticism of the emergency services’ response to the bombing.

Following Thursday’s publication of the report, bereaved families said they hoped “lessons would be learned”.