08 February 2024

Claim that Manchester Arena bombing was staged is absurd, judge rules

08 February 2024

A claim that the Manchester Arena bombing was staged by government agencies and did not kill or injure anyone is “absurd and fantastical”, a judge at the High Court has ruled.

Martin and Eve Hibbert are bringing legal action against Richard Hall for harassment, misuse of private information and data protection.

The father and daughter duo were at the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017 and suffered life-changing injuries, with Mr Hibbert left with a spinal cord injury and Miss Hibbert facing severe brain damage.

However, Mr Hall has claimed that the attack, in which Salman Abedi detonated a home-made rucksack bomb in the crowd of concert-goers, was faked.

Mr Hall has been accused of visiting the homes and workplaces of those injured in the attack – including Miss Hibbert’s home – and recording footage of them.

At a hearing in London last month, Mr Hibbert and his daughter made a bid for summary judgment – a legal step to decide parts of the case without a trial – on several parts of the case’s background.

This included rulings on whether 22 people did die during the attack, and whether the Hibberts’ injuries were caused by the bombing.

Mr Hall, representing himself, argued that there is no “first-hand tangible evidence”, like CCTV footage or photographs of injuries, to prove the father and daughter were at the arena or were hurt as a result of the blast.

He showed the court a series of images, which he claimed reveals survivors are lying about their injuries, and referred to people pictured lying on the ground near the arena as having “agreed to take part in an exercise”.

However, in a ruling on Thursday, Judge Richard Davison ruled in favour of the pair and said that without this early decision, Mr Hall would “use the trial as a vehicle to advance and test his staged attack hypothesis”.

Judge Davison said: “Suffice it to say that, although his beliefs may be genuinely held, his theory that the Manchester bombing was an operation staged by government agencies in which no one was genuinely killed or injured is absurd and fantastical and it provides no basis to rebut the conviction.”

He said it was “fanciful” to suggest that Abedi did not die and “still more fanciful” to argue the bomber was an intelligence asset.

Hall’s views on what happened at the arena are repugnant and offensive to those who suffered so badly that evening

The judge continued: “Whilst acknowledging that issues as to the claimants’ presence at the attack and the attack itself are separate and distinct, once the defendant’s general hypothesis has been rejected, as I have rejected it, it is unrealistic to maintain that the claimants were not there and were either not severely injured at all or acquired their injuries earlier and by a different mechanism than the bombing.

“Indeed, the latter points are simply preposterous.”

Further hearings are expected to take place to determine the rest of the claim and costs.

Following the judgment, Mr Hibbert said: “I am pleased by the court’s sensible ruling today. I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion, however, there comes a point where the line is crossed and action has to be taken.

“Hall’s views on what happened at the arena are repugnant and offensive to those who suffered so badly that evening. When he started to approach my daughter and her home as part of these fanciful investigations he went way too far.

“It is unacceptable to bring anxiety and distress to us in this way and a stand had to be taken. I am pleased that a court saw through his ridiculous assertions.”

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