In Depth

What is ‘Martyn’s Law’ - and when will it be introduced?

Stricter security checks to be introduced at venues

New counter-terrorism laws are expected to be introduced to make public venues and spaces are safer from attack.

The introduction of the new legislation follows a campaign by Figen Murray, whose son, Martyn Hett, was among the 22 people killed during the Manchester Arena attack.

Murray has advocated for airport-style security checks to be mandatory at major sporting and entertainment venues. 

According to the Home Office, the draft law, to be consulted on in the spring, will require venue operators to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take “proportionate and reasonable measures” to protect the public from an attack.

Speaking to Sky News, Murray said the consultation is “the start of making us all that bit safer”.

Who was Martyn Hett?

The 29-year-old PR manager, from Stockport near Manchester, was one of 22 people killed by British-born Islamic terrorist Salman Abedi, who also died in the attack on 22 May 2017. The bombing took place in the lobby of Manchester Arena as audience members were leaving after a concert by pop singer Ariana Grande.

Hett was described as “iconic and beautiful” by his boyfriend Russell Hayward, who announced his death, as The Independent reported at the time. “He left this world exactly how he lived, centre of attention,” Hayward wrote in a post on Twitter.

Hett had amassed a significant following on social media, after making a series of TV appearances.

He and his boyfriend were contestants on reality TV show Come Dine With Me in 2014, when they ended up winning the £1,000 prize money - but were subsequently trolled on Twitter.

In an article in Attitude magazine about the experience, Hett later wrote: “If my one-hour of fame taught me anything, it’s that there’s always going to be a twat behind a keyboard that secretly wishes they could win £1,000 by drinking loads of wine on TV – like we did.”

Along with his flamboyant personality, Hett was also “famous for his Deidre Barlow tattoo, which he appeared on TV to have covered up – by another, much larger picture of the Coronation Street character”, says The Independent.

The dedicated Corrie fan’s funeral was attended by stars including the soap’s Helen Worth, Jennie McAlpine and Kym Marsh, according to Closer magazine.

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What is Martyn’s Law?

Since his death, Hett’s mother has been campaigning for stricter security at concert venues, and launched an online petition that amassed more than 23,000 signatures before closing last June.

Murray wrote on the petition page that she had “wrongly assumed that since this tragedy event organisers have significantly increased security checks”, but that when she had attended a recent concert “nobody checked tickets or bags”.

She suggested that any future legislation tightening security could be dubbed “Martyn’s Law” after her son.

Following a meeting with Murray in January, former security minister Brandon Lewis said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fully behind the proposed reforms. At the time, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Following the horrendous attacks in 2017, the Government is working to make venues and public spaces safer.”

Sky News reports that the new law could include increased physical security, training, incident response plans and exercises for staff on what to do during an attack.

Murray said: “Public venues already have all sorts of obligations from fire prevention to health and safety - but until now there has been no duty to protect their customers. 

“Martyn's law will change that. Most of us already thought such a law existed, it's a common sense step that will save lives in the future.”

Security Minister James Brokenshire added: “The devastating attacks in 2017, and more recently at Fishmongers' Hall and Streatham, are stark reminders of the current threat we face.

“We are in complete agreement with campaigners such as Figen Murray on the importance of venues and public spaces having effective and proportionate protective security and preparedness measures to keep people safe.”

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