Wednesday 18 January 2017

Old Trafford fake bomb blunder was all mine, admits security chief

Harry Yorke

Published 17/05/2016 | 02:30

Police on duty outside Old Trafford after the evacuation.
Police on duty outside Old Trafford after the evacuation.
Security expert Christopher Reid speaks outside his home in Kent. PA
One of the fake bombs he uses for training purposes

The security chief who left a fake bomb in a toilet at Old Trafford has apologised for the blunder but believes that Manchester United over-reacted in evacuating the stadium during a major terror scare.

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"This mistake is entirely mine. I have to take full responsibility for leaving a training item behind," said Christopher Reid, a retired Scotland Yard police chief who also worked at the London Olympics.

But he believes that officials could have avoided postponing the fixture at an estimated cost of €3.8m.

Mr Reid, director of Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd, said he now feared that he would be "hung out to dry" by the club.

"Look, I'll be honest, they didn't need to evacuate the stadium," he said. "It was an inanimate device."

Mr Reid was critical of the levels of security expertise across the football industry.

"In the security world, there is a lot of ticking boxes, just making sure that they have the numbers," he said.

"There are numbers there doing what they are doing, but none of them are trained to a particularly high standard, which is not their fault.

"This is to do with security officers that just haven't had the training. That could be any club, Chelsea, Wembley, anywhere."

Mr Reid, who founded his security company in 2011 after retiring from 32 years at the Metropolitan Police, admitted that he installed the device during a canine training exercise last week.

"Ultimately, I am responsible. I went up to Manchester to conduct the training at the club," he said. "We have a team of five, but this week I went up and did it myself."

Mr Reid, a former Royal Marine, said the incident had "dented" his professional pride, adding that he had spent his "professional working life travelling around the world to provide counter-terrorist services and advice".

He continued: "I feel bad for the fans, for all the disruption caused. These things happen, it was human error. But I pride myself on my expertise.

"The Manchester United executives are currently meeting, so I am waiting to hear back from them. I am now really waiting to see how much they're going to hang me out to dry.

"Until I hear back from them, I can't really say anything.

"Lots of people are doing lots of guessing, and I would like to put that straight, once I hear back from Manchester United."

Mr Reid was asked it if had been a "blunder", he said: "I wouldn't say blunder. It's very difficult to say that, it's easy to say that and people will say, 'yes it was'.

"However, there was something found and they dealt with it in the way they should have done. Whether it should have been found sooner is completely another issue.

"It would be obvious to say, 'Yes they should have found it.' But I don't know - the rooms may have been locked after I left, without being checked and why should they be?"

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had earlier revealed that the device had been recorded as having been removed.

In a statement he said: "Following investigation, the device proved to have been left in error following the training of dog handlers by a sub-contractor.

"The contractor had signed the device as having been recovered, along with the 13 other devices at the end of the exercise."

Greater Manchester's mayor and police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd, a United fan, branded the scare a "fiasco" that had put people in danger.

He said the Red Devils needed to be "up front" with answers about the "shambolic" security scare. He added that it was "astonishing" that the dummy bomb had not been found earlier and the alarm was raised only 20 minutes before kick-off, with thousands in the ground.

Bomb-disposal experts were called to the 75,000-seat stadium on Sunday afternoon to carry out a controlled explosion on the "incredibly lifelike" training device that sparked a red alert.

The fake bomb was found in a toilet just minutes before Manchester United were due on the pitch, leading to the Barclays Premier League game against Bournemouth being postponed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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