A former police officer who led the first response in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack could be facing criminal charges.
Police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), has today revealed that it will be referring a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on accounts of the night of the atrocity on on 22 May 2017 as provided by former Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer, Dale Sexton.
Mr Sexton has now retired from the force, but was the Chief Inspector and force duty officer in the city centre on the night of the attack, and led the initial police response.
22 people tragically lost their lives, and thousands more were left injured and affected, during a bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
The IOPC had already previously investigated a complaint lodged on behalf of the victims’ families in relation comments provided as evidence by Mr Sexton, where the now-retired officer denied he was “overwhelmed” with the situation and claimed GMP made “a deliberate decision” not to inform other emergency services that the force had declared ‘Operation Plato’ – which was an agreed national identifier to a no-notice marauding terrorist firearms attack.
However, when interviewed back in 2018 as part of the Kerslake Report, Mr Sexton neglected to mention going against protocol and keeping the declaration secret from partner services.
When Mr Sexton was later challenged by the independent inquiry into the emergency response – which was commissioned by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham – as to why he had not admitted to going against the protocol earlier, he said he felt like he had “almost got away with it on the night”.
When the investigation finally concluded earlier this year back in February, Mr Sexton was cleared by the IOPC of breaching standards of professional behaviour or committing a criminal offence.
But now, after the IOPC has “subsequently completed and upheld” a Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) – which it says was requested by the families of the victims – a second decision maker, who has no connection to the original investigation, reviewed the “substantial amount of evidence” gathered during the IOPC investigation and determined “an offence may have been committed”.
“We will now begin preparing a file of evidence for the CPS to consider any possible charges,” the IOPC confirmed in its statement this morning.
Addressing the situation, Amanda Rowe – who is the Director of Operations at the IOPC – commented: “The Manchester Arena bombing was a tragedy that had a profound impact right across Greater Manchester and beyond, [and] it will live long in the memories for all the wrong reasons and our thoughts remain with all those affected by this horrific act of violence.
“This was a complex investigation, carried out independently of police, and investigators obtained a significant amount of information, which was considered as part of our decision-making.
“In cases like this, and in line with other organisations, victims and complainants have a right to have their case reviewed by someone unconnected to the original investigation [and] in this instance, we determined the matter requires further exploration and will be submitted to the CPS to consider in due course.
“A referral to the CPS does not necessarily mean that criminal charges will be authorised.
“It will now be for prosecutors to determine whether charges should follow and, if so, what those charges may be.”
Featured Image – GMP
Trafford’s £75m surf park and leisure resort project is finally moving again
The exciting £75 million development over in Trafford Park that will see a brand-new luxury leisure centre, surf and spa resort arrive in Manchester is finally moving again after two years of delays.
Originally slated to arrive in 2023, planning permission for Modern Surf Manchester was granted back in September 2021 but due to problems with funding, the hugely ambitious project has been held up ever since, with the opening date pushed back to sometime in 2025.
Modern Surf is part of a larger 20-year project to upgrade the TraffordCity complex, with around £2.6bn set aside for the huge investment and undertaking, with this set to be the first inland surfing destination in the North of England — and we’ve already had a spellbinding glimpse of what it’s going to look like.
Using technology from Wavegarden to create an artificial lagoon and giant surf park, the TraffordCity attraction will produce 1000 waves every hour at varying intensities and will be able to house up to 90 people at any one time, delivering a kind of surfing few will ever have experienced before.
Better still, once completed, Modern Surf Manchester will create over 140 new full-time jobs during peak times and –
The wider regeneration of Trafford Park also includes a whopping £250m set aside for the highly-anticipated, Therme Manchester, which was first announced back in 2020 and will be a similarly unprecedented addition to the region and the North as a whole.
The water park, spa and wellness resort situated just next to the Trafford Centre will span nearly 30 acres alone and the latest images depicting how it’s going to look are pretty incredible:
The sheer scale and scope of Modern Surf Manchester and the surrounding investments in Trafford can’t be overstated, not only generating new business and tourism for Greater Manchester but even adding fitness and mental health benefits to locals.
Speaking to TraffordCity, Manc professional surfing coach Alan Bisseker, who has worked with Olympic and professional organisations including GB Surfing, said that “there are few sports that give you as many health and fitness benefits as surfing”, insisting that this “combined with the significant positive impact on mental health and wellness is undeniable and well-documented.”
Andy Hadden, Founder of the newly appointed Tartan Leisure team who are soon set to finish their Lost Shore Surf Resort in Scotland, added: “There has been an enormous rise in popularity for surfing over recent years with proven benefits to our overall health and wellness… the response and appetite that we have seen from the public has been phenomenal. [Modern Surf] will be a very exciting addition to an already incredible combined retail and experienced-based leisure destination for all to enjoy.”
Trafford is already a hub of culture, leisure and sport in the UK and when this thing arrives that’s only going to become more apparent — sod the New Year, roll on 2025 and surf park city!
Featured Images — Trafford City Council (planning portal)/Modern Surf Park Manchester
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.