Sunday 21 January 2018

'I am waiting to see how much they hang me out to dry' - security chief responsible for Old Trafford 'bomb' blunder

Old Trafford evacuation, left, was caused by a fake bomb left by Security Search Management and Solutions Ltd, whose managing director is Chris Reid, right CREDIT: GETTY & PA
Old Trafford evacuation, left, was caused by a fake bomb left by Security Search Management and Solutions Ltd, whose managing director is Chris Reid, right CREDIT: GETTY & PA Newsdesk Newsdesk

The security chief responsible for leaving a mock explosive strapped to a toilet door in Old Trafford has broken his silence.

Christopher Reid, a retired Scotland Yard police chief who worked at the London Olympics, has apologised for the blunder which stands to lose Manchester United £3million.

Mr Reid, director of Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd, fears that he may be 'hung out to dry' after the discovery of the phoney device led to the postponement of United's final league game of the season against Bournemouth.

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

He admitted that he, and not any of his employees, was responsible for leaving the device, described as 'incredibly lifelike' by the Greater Manchester Police.

"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."

It is understood Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd was hired by Deacons Canines to carry out practical training exercises for their sniffer dogs last Wednesday. The dummy bomb should have been removed at the end of the exercise.

He admitted that the mishap had dented his professional pride and he apologised to all those affected.

"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. Which is some time this afternoon apparently.... Lots of people are doing lots of guessing, and I would like to put that straight, once I hear back from Manchester United."

United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward released a statement this afternoon saying he was 'proud' of how the staff responded while adding that the club had no option but to treat the situation as a 'potential terror threat'.

"On the discovery of a suspect package, the police and the club worked quickly and closely to identify the threat, make people safe and evacuate the ground calmly and efficiently," Woodward said.

"Fans of both clubs behaved impeccably and the evacuation – the first of its type in the UK – was a complete success.

"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.

"That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine matchday search of the 100 Club, as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers not dogs.

"Once a live situation was identified, the club and police had no option but to treat the matter as a potential terror threat; we could not have assumed it was a training exercise error.  Presented with the same situation in the future, we would take the same action."

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