07 May 2024

Mother of Manchester Arena attack victim sets off on 200-mile walk

07 May 2024

The mother of Manchester Arena bombing victim Martyn Hett has started a 200-mile walk from the spot where her son died as part of a campaign for stronger protections against terrorism in public places.

Figen Murray set off from the arena at 11am on Monday and will spend the next 16 days walking to Downing Street, where she hopes to look Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “in the eye” and call for the implementation of Martyn’s Law.

The law, named in tribute to the 29-year-old who was one of 22 people killed at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, would require venues and local authorities in the UK to have training requirements and preventative plans against terror attacks.

Ms Murray said she had waited 18 months since Mr Sunak told her in a phone call that he was supportive of the legislation, which has yet to get beyond draft stage.

She told the PA news agency: “On December 15 2022 I had a telephone conversation with Rishi Sunak.

“In that conversation he told me he’s absolutely supportive of the legislation and he said he will sort it out as quickly as possible. That was 18 months ago and I feel I’ve been patient and I think 18 months is enough time.”

She said she had written to Mr Sunak to ask for a meeting when she arrives on May 22 – the anniversary of the terror attack.

“I’d be very disappointed if he says no,” she said.

“I’m hoping I can sit in front of him, look him in the eye and say ‘make this happen, you promised me 18 months ago’.”

She has also asked the Prime Minister to name a date when the Government’s draft law will come to the House of Commons.

Ms Murray said it was “emotional” to be at the arena but she hoped her son would be “proud” of what she was doing.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who joined family and friends to see Ms Murray off, said she had the support of the “whole city region”.

He said: “There’s no politics here, there is cross-party support for Martyn’s Law.

“I think the only concern is that it’s taking a while. I know there’s a need to consult venues because it would have an impact on some but at the end of the day that consultation has happened, we do now need to have a date and I think we need to have this law passed before parliament is dissolved at the general election.”

Martyn’s Law was a commitment in the Conservative Manifesto in 2019 and was followed by public consultations.

There's no politics here, there is cross-party support for Martyn's Law. I think the only concern is that it's taking a while

A Home Affairs Select Committee in July 2023 criticised a draft of the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill which it said would put small businesses and organisations at risk of closure and fail to “make a significant impact” on preventing attacks.

But Ms Murray claimed the committee reached a “dangerous and misguided” conclusion after scrutinising the draft legislation.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “As set out in the King’s Speech, we are committed to bringing in Martyn’s Law – legislation that will better protect the public from terror attacks, and we are grateful to Figen Murray for her tireless support of this issue.

“It is important that our new law stands the test of time and is a fitting tribute to those who have campaigned for it. That is why we have consulted on how we can protect the public without putting unnecessary burdens on smaller businesses.

“We are now in the final stages of drafting this legislation, and it will be brought in as soon as possible.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox