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Manchester Arena Inquiry: Relatives present ‘pen portraits’

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image copyrightFamily handouts

image captionThe bomb was detonated at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people

Relatives are sharing “pen portraits” of the 22 victims who died in the Manchester Arena bombing as the public inquiry heads into its second week.

Twenty-two people were killed when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb as 14,000 fans left the arena in May 2017.

The father of Martyn Hett was the first to provide an emotional testimony to his son, whose life “was so vibrant”.

The portraits will give each family the chance to present a personal insight into the lives of those who died.

The commemorative hearings are expected to conclude on 23 September.

The inquiry comes more than three years after the fatal bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester city centre, which left hundreds more injured.

  • What is the Manchester Arena inquiry?

It was due to start in June, but was delayed by the trial of Abedi’s brother Hashem, who was jailed for at least 55 years for 22 murders on 20 August.

The inquiry is being held at Manchester Magistrates’ Court, less than a mile away from where the bombing happened.

The “pen portraits” will be provided by family members, or others on their behalf, reading out witness statements and playing music and videos to remember those who died, with about four given each day.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said they would “ensure the deceased and their families are at the centre of this process”.

“Each ‘pen portrait’ is deeply affecting. The experience will be moving and distressing… and exceptionally difficult for the families,” he added.

image copyrightPA Media

image captionTributes were left in in St Ann’s Square in Manchester city centre in the wake of the bombing

During the first “pen portrait”, the inquiry heard a moving testimony from Mr Hett’s father Paul.

“How would I describe Martyn’s personality in one simple word? Fun. He had the most wicked sense of humour,” Mr Hett said.

The 29-year-old, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, “lit up everyone around him”, his father added.

The loved ones of Eilidh MacLeod, John Atkinson and Sorrell Leczkowski are also expected to present their “pen portraits” later.

The inquiry was set up to examine the background to the attack and the response of the emergency services.

Its chairman, Sir John Saunders, will make a report and recommendations once all the evidence has been heard, which is expected to take up to six months.

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