Manchester Arena Inquiry: Mother of youngest victim urges MI5 to admit ‘failings’

Saffie-Rose, 8, asked ambulance crew: 'Am I going to die?'

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The mother of the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena terror attack has urged the emergency services and MI5 to admit their “failings”.

Lisa Roussos, 53, made the plea as the public inquiry into the May 22 2017 bombing that killed 22 people heard her eight-year-old daughter Saffie-Rose asked an ambulance crew: “Am I going to die?”

Saffie-Rose suffered massive blood loss from shrapnel wounds to her legs, caused by the 10.31pm explosion in the City Room foyer of the venue after an Ariana Grande concert.

She was tended to initially by a member of the public and later an off-duty nurse who, with British Transport Police officers, carried her outside on an advertising board.

A police officer had to flag down a passing ambulance and the youngster finally arrived at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital more than 50 minutes after the explosion, and was pronounced dead at 11.40pm.

Giving evidence on Monday, Mrs Roussos said: “I want to thank those who tried to help Saffie that night and for being with her.

“I also want to say to the professionals like the emergency services and MI5 that this inquiry is not about your job, your reputation or your uniform.

“We understand the sheer panic and fear you were faced with that night, but until you admit the failings how can there be a positive change?”

The inquiry has heard only three paramedics from North West Ambulance Service ever entered the City Room on the night, and one of them briefly leaned over Saffie-Rose before, seconds later, he moved on.

MI5 witnesses have given evidence in closed sessions at the inquiry, but a parliamentary committee found in 2018 that MI5 and counter-terrorism missed a number of potential opportunities to prevent the attack in their handling of bomber Salman Abedi’s case.

Saffie-Rose’s father, Andrew Roussos, told the inquiry: “The response of the security services on this atrocity should go down in history as one of the worst failures from start to finish, and that is what we should learn from this.”

He said the family was enduring a “living nightmare”, adding: “The response on that night was shameful and inadequate.

“Everyone in that City Room was let down and the people who excuse it should feel ashamed.

“What Saffie went through I will never forgive.

“That poor little girl hung in for someone to come and help her. What she received was a bloodied advertising board and untrained people doing the best they could.”