Martyn Hett’s dad tells of the moment his “world fell apart” in new documentary about the Manchester Arena bombing

The father of Martyn Hett tells movingly of the moment his ‘world fell apart’ on being told his son was missing in a new documentary ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Manchester Arena terror bombing. Much-loved PR manager Martyn was 29 and from Stockport – one of 22 murdered by suicide bomber Salman Abedi after an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

Abedi’s brother, Hashem, was convicted over the bombing and is currently serving a minimum prison sentence of 55 years for his role in the attack. And speaking to ITV for new two-part documentary ‘Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombing’, Paul Hett says he believes the brothers’ experiences of the war in Libya – and the influence of their father Ramadan Abedi – was the starting point for the eventual atrocity.

“I am not a believer that children are born bad,” Mr Hett says in part one, which airs tonight at 9pm. “These weren’t born bad. They were taken to Libya. They were trained to fight in the war over there and I believe that it was the start of this because he [Salman Abedi] believed what Ramadan told him.

“He was brought up into that world, but people have choices. To kill 22 people or not to kill 22 people. Salman Abedi had a choice.”

The series features powerful interviews with those who lost loved-ones in the attack, including from the family of 15-year-old Olivia-Campbell Hardy, from Bury, and from Paul Price, the partner of police officer Elaine McIver, 43. And it considers the missed opportunities to stop the bomber, intelligence failings on the part of the security services and the much-criticized response of the emergency services on the night.

Mr Hett says 2017 was ‘going to be a very big year for Martyn’. “Life couldn’t have been better,” he says. Martyn-who was at the concert with friends-was planning a trip to America and his father deél added: “We gave him a big hug and sadly that was the last time we saw him.”

Paul Hett, Martyn’s father

“The next morning I got up, jumped in the car, put the radio on and they were saying there had been a bomb at the Manchester Arena. I remember thinking how absolutely awful for those families, that must be absolutely terrible.

“So, I got my mobile phone to see if there were any messages and the text basically said ‘we don’t want to worry you but Martyn was at the concert with us and he is missing’. My world fell apart.”

Paul Swaine, a friend of Martyn adds in the series: “Martyn would make you feel like you were the only person in the room. He cared, he looked after people, he was going to be a friend for life.”

A public inquiry into the attack adjourned last month, with two reports on the background to the bombing, including the radicalization of Manchester-born Abedi, and the emergency services response due to be published later this year.

The evidence heard so far, Mr Hett says, has ‘changed everything’. The Arena public inquiry has heard there were ‘significant failures’ by five British Transport Police officers on duty in the lead-up to the blast, including two of them driving away from the arena to buy kebabs on a two-hour break.

Mr Hett says: “The most damning part of the evidence was the failure of British Transport Police. They were given specific instructions that someone had to be in the City Room during egress and ingress. And had British Transport Police been in there it is highly likely very few people would have been killed and Martyn would still be here today.”

The lives lost in the bombing

A spokesman for British Transport Police said in response: “Substantial changes have been made in British Transport Police since 2017.” The force said it recognized there were a number of systemic failings and said subsequent improvements were presented to the inquiry in January.

ITV said the documentary presents two polarizing worlds that tragically collided, one of innocent young fans attending a concert by the American pop superstar and the other of a radical Islamic extremist who had grown up in south Manchester just thousands from his eventual victims.

The failings of MI5 are analysed. Lord David Anderson, who was tasked by the Government to conduct an independent review of MI5 and counter-terror policing in the wake of the attack, says: “Some important intelligence on Abedi linking him to terrorism was missed early in 2017. MI5 interpreted that intelligence as relating to ordinary crime.

“With hindsight, it’s pretty obvious that that intelligence related to a developing terrorist plot. It’s all about setting trip wires, trying to work out which of those former subjects of interest might be likely to re-engage. That’s the trickiest thing of all in what MI5 do.”

Mr Price, who was stood just feet away from his partner Elaine, who tragically died in the explosion, says: “The next thing I know is that I’m coming round in intensive care after being in a coma for nearly two weeks. I don’t remember being told that Elaine had been killed.” The series also includes contributions from those who were at the concert and former staff who were working on the night.

Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombing will be on ITV at 9pm on Monday – tonight – and Thursday and available to watch on catch-up on the ITV Hub.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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