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Crime

Tories vow venue security review after years of campaigning led by mum of gay Manchester bombing victim

Josh Milton December 4, 2019
The family of Martyn Hett, one of the victims of a deadly terror attack in Manchester, England, have campaigned for tighter legislation around venue security, dubbed Martyn's law. (Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

The family of Martyn Hett, one of the victims of a deadly terror attack in Manchester, England, have campaigned for tighter legislation around venue security. (Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

The mother of a gay man who lost his life during a terrorist attack in Manchester, England, has welcomed British prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to force venues to ramp up security.

Panic and mayhem seized crowds of Ariana Grande fans during a gig in 2017 after a suicide bombing killed 22 people and wounded 59 others.

One of the lives lost was Martyn Hett, a bright-eyed PR worker whose mother, Figen Murray, has tirelessly campaigned for tighter security legislation to be introduced.

As the most recent terror attack to inflict the country causes tremors in the lead-up to the general election, the premier announced he would look into his government to “require” venues increase protection measures against terror threats, the Manchester Evening News reported.

What will ‘Martyn’s law’ mean?

Dubbed ‘Martyn’s law’ by campaigners, the pledge would mean that spaces will asses the threat of terrorist attacks and have evacuation arrangements in place, Johnson said.

Businesses, charities and public groups will be required to look to “reduce the vulnerability” to attacks in the same way they would for a fire risk.

These will form the standard protocol of health and safety for venues, but Tory aids stressed that such regulations would not impose crippling red tape on smaller venues.

Three days after the killing of Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, by the convicted terrorist Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall on London Bridge, a memorial of flowers appeared at the southern (Southwark) end of the bridge. (Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

An elected Conservative government would, promised Johnson, either use pre-existing laws or introduce new legislation to create the legal obligation.

Johnson said: “The nature of threats faced by British citizens has changed in the evolution of modern extremism.

“It is no longer sufficient for public venues to prepare for accidental threats like fire. They need to reduce their vulnerability to people who seek to perpetrate violent acts too.

“We must not let the terrorists alter our way of life. In our open and tolerant society, the freedom for citizens to enjoy markets, concerts, gigs and restaurants must continue as before.”

‘It’s a common sense law most think already existed,’ says mother of gay son lost to Manchester bombing. 

Murray, as well as several other family members of victims lost to terror attacks, spearheaded such rules as part of their work in Survivors Against Terror.

The lobby group welcomed the news, with Murray calling it a “breakthrough”.

When Martyn died, I promised both myself and him that I would do everything in my power to stop other families going through what we were.

The announcement comes in parallel to accusations against the prime minister that he has exploited the aftermath of the London Bridge attack for political gain.

A screen displaying an image of Martyn Hett outside Stockport Town Hall as mourners arrive for his funeral. (Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
A screen displaying an image of Martyn Hett outside Stockport Town Hall as mourners arrive for his funeral. (Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

After a lone extremist fatally stabbed two people last week before authorities killed him, the episode erupted unease ahead of the election.

Tensions heightened as the atrocity became tangled with political campaigns, as Tory lawmakers’ pledges to dial-up security seemed to clash with the victims themselves; both being people who believed passionately in prison rehabilitation.

“Martyn’s law won’t stop terrorism, nothing can,” Murray said.

“But it will make it harder to commit.

“It’s the sort of common sense law that most people would think already existed.”

More: Boris Johnson, General Election 2019, manchester terror attack, martyn's law

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