Manchester Arena terror attack survivors sue conspiracy theorist in legal first for UK
Two survivors of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack are suing a conspiracy theorist for defamation and harassment through the first lawsuit of its kind to be filed in the UK.
Twenty-two people died and hundreds were injured when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated an explosive device in the foyer at the venue at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.
Martin and Eve Hibbert, a father and daughter who suffered disabilities from the incident, are now taking legal action against Richard D Hall, per Rolling Stone UK.
Hall, who is a conspiracy theorist, has falsely claimed that the Manchester Arena bombing was faked.
He told BBC News last year that he had spied on Eve from a vehicle parked outside her home. Hall reportedly stalked Manchester Arena survivors in an attempt to find out if they were lying about their injuries.
According to the Guardian, the Hibbert family sought a restraining injunction and damages last Friday (March 31) after Hall promoted the theory that the attack never happened and reportedly admitted to spying on the victims.
On Monday (April 3), the Hibberts’ lawyers said: “We can confirm that proceedings were issued in the high court on Friday on behalf of Martin and his daughter Eve.
“Those proceedings are for protection from harassment and misuse of private information and include an application for a restraining injunction and damages. Mr Richard Hall will shortly be served with papers and will then have an opportunity to formally respond.”
They continued: “Martin is very determined to shut this individual down from harassing his family, and for peddling his outrageous slurs, lies and repugnant views that have caused continuing offence and distress.”
The family had initially signalled their intention to bring legal action last October.
Neil Hudgell, a lawyer representing other clients who have allegedly been targeted by Hall, said at the time: “Several of our clients have had this man on their doorstep, taking photographs, invading their privacy in the most intrusive way.
“Martin and others are determined to stop this individual from continuing with his repugnant behaviour.”
Both Martin and Eve – the latter of whom was 14 at the time of the bombing – need to use wheelchairs after sustaining serious injuries in the terrorist attack. Martin suffered 22 shrapnel wounds and was paralysed from the waist down.
Martin Hibbert’s lawyer told the BBC that he could be “seen as a pioneering trailblazer for others to follow” after taking such action against a conspiracy theorist.
Hibbert told the broadcaster: “It does sometimes feel like a bit of a weight, so it would be nice to be able to put it to bed and just be able to move on with our lives.”
The lawsuit is similar to the series of defamation trials against alt-right figure and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones brought by the families of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.
Jones falsely claimed that the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was a hoax, and accused both the deceased children and parents of the victims of being actors. He was made to pay $1.48billion in damages.
Meanwhile, a recent inquiry has found that MI5 missed a significant chance to take action that may have prevented the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
This spring, the government is set to introduce legislation – Martyn’s Law, named after Manchester Arena victim Martyn Hett – to prevent terrorist attacks in public places such as major music venues.