A report into last year’s Manchester bombing has criticised some in the media, especially social media, for how the aftermath was dealt with.
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives after a concert by US popstar Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena in May.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham commissioned a report into the tragedy, led by former head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake, who has presented his interim findings.
Lord Kerslake told reporters: “Clearly a lot of the media handled the issues very respectfully, but there is a new dimension here and that is the advent of social media.
“Very quickly photos of those missing go up on social media and families want that because they’re looking for information.
“The question then is: how do the media respond to that information?
“In a number of occasions, the media have approached families, indeed door-stopping them, before those families themselves know for certain what happened to their loved ones, and we think that is an issue of concern that needs to be explored.”
But Chris Phillips, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, told Sky News: “I think the world has changed very quickly and whenever there’s an incident, there will be people tweeting about it and there will be people sending messages.
“So it’s really difficult for the media to control what they’re doing in light of the amount of social media activity out there.
“It’s easy to push blame… but we have to be realistic about the world that we live in.”
Sky News Correspondent Mike McCarthy, at the news conference in Manchester, said families had raised the issue with Lord Kerslake and other panel members.
He said: “In one case, for example, the panel said that the media were picking up images and re-using them, images that were taken from social media that were not very sensitive, as far as the families were concerned.
“When asked what should be done about it, they said they didn’t know at this stage, but it was just an issue they wanted to raise.”
The panel’s interim report also called for public bodies to commit to a charter guaranteeing bereaved families are respected in the aftermath of similar tragedies.
More than 170 families had taken part in the review, meeting with the panel members face-to-face or contributing in writing. Lord Kerslake said the panel had “wanted to tell the story from the perspective of those who were caught up in those events that night”.
This follows concerns expressed after the Hillsborough inquest that families affected by that tragedy had not been shown enough respect and had not been given a fair hearing.
Lord Kerslake said many of the Manchester families were “still having their lives dominated by that terrible night”.
He added: “People talk loosely about closure but for those families there will not be quick closure. But they do want to understand better what happened.”
The full review will be published in March.
(c) Sky News 2018: Manchester bombing report criticises media