Manchester Arena bombing victim’s mother ‘feels misled’ after Sunak meeting

The Prime Minister promised Martyn Hett’s mother he would pass a bill in Martyn’s honour just hours before he called the snap general election

Archie Mitchell
Friday 24 May 2024 11:57 BST
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Rishi Sunak announces general election on July 4 2024

The mother of a Manchester Arena bombing victim who walked 200 miles to Downing Street has said she feels “misled” by Rishi Sunak after he promised to pass a law in her son’s name.

Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, had talks with the PM on Wednesday in which he promised to introduce Martyn’s Law to parliament before the summer recess.

But just hours later, Mr Sunak called the snap 4 July election, leaving just two days of parliamentary time for the so-called wash up of important outstanding legislation.

Figen Murray delivered a petition to Downing Street on the same day the Prime Minister called the General Election
Figen Murray delivered a petition to Downing Street on the same day the Prime Minister called the General Election (PA Wire)

Following the meeting with the PM, Ms Murray said he had promised her he would introduce Martyn’s Law to Parliament before summer recess but could not guarantee the legislation would be passed before the next election.

Martyn’s 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.

The PM’s decision to call the general election will likely mean he is unable to pass the bill at all, let alone present it before summer recess. A Labour source said: “If Rishi Sunak will lie to a grieving mother, he will lie to anyone.”

And Dame Diana Johnson, chairman of the home affairs select committee, accused the prime minister of misleading Ms Murray.

“She’d walked 200 miles from Manchester to London to mark the seventh anniversary of that terror atrocity,” Dame Diana told the House of Commons on Friday.

She said Ms Murray has tirelessly campaigned for the law and highlighted the PM’s promise to rush it through parliament before the summer recess.

She added: “Mr Speaker, have you had any explanation from the prime minister about why he would say that when four hours later he called the general election and clearly no bill could be rushed through before the summer recess and the fact that Figen Murray was misled by the prime minister?”

Just one day of Commons business remains, during which important legislation will have to be rushed through.

The legislation was dubbed Martyn’s Law in memory of the Manchester Arena bombing victim, Martyn Hett
The legislation was dubbed Martyn’s Law in memory of the Manchester Arena bombing victim, Martyn Hett (PA Media)

Speaking on to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Ms Murray said: “During the meeting yesterday we shook hands, he actually agreed, he promised that he will bring it into Parliament before summer recess but he could not guarantee that it’s going to be done by the next general election.

“We shook hands and he looked me straight me in the eyes so I don’t feel I was being lied to because he at that point knew what he was going to do later that day but he must have been in a really difficult position.

“However he could have maybe handled it slightly differently. I feel a bit misled rather than lied to.”

Ms Murray added: “He is behind the legislation definitely and we had a conversation on the phone 18 months ago where he said he is absolutely fully supportive of the legislation, it’s a no-brainer, and he would support it.”

The staunch campaigner began her walk on May 7 on the spot where her son was killed in the atrocity as she continues to demand Martyn’s Law is introduced to Parliament after numerous reassurances from the Government over the past five years that it would happen.

Ms Murray also met with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday who told her he would pass Martyn’s Law if there was a change of government. She later said: “While this is very encouraging, we don’t want to wait for a new government to get this done.

Figen Murray and her husband Stuart speaking to Sir Keir Starmer (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Figen Murray and her husband Stuart speaking to Sir Keir Starmer (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

“With all party support and public security at risk, there is no excuse for not getting this done now.”

Asked whether the Prime Minister had lied to Ms Murray by telling her the Bill would be brought forward before summer recess, his official spokesman said: “I can’t speak to private conversations but clearly the PM joined people across the country in paying tribute to Figen Murray and obviously, as he said yesterday, remembering the victims from the Manchester Arena bombings seven years ago. She’s been a tireless campaigner.

“He’s obviously talked previously about bringing the legislation forward as soon as possible.”

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