Protocol became enemy of fire-service management in wake of Manchester Arena bombing, finds Kerslake

“Risk averse” fire-service chiefs’ decision to observe a safe-distance protocol in the wake of last summer’s Manchester Arena bombing delayed crews’ arrival at the site by two hours, according to an independent review by Lord Kerslake. In his report on the emergency services’ response to the attack, Kerslake notes that fire brigades “played no meaningful role” in the immediate aftermath, and highlights a range of communication problems that contributed to the impasse.

In particular, Kerslake notes, a surge of calls to the Greater Manchester Police duty officer’s phone line prevented the assigned inter-agency liaison from gaining full awareness of what was happening at the arena. In the absence of those details, the liaison assumed that the incident was ongoing. In line with pre-determined protocols for active terror threats, crews were mustered to Philips Park fire station – three miles north of the city centre – to await further instructions. Meanwhile, police and ambulance personnel poured into the arena.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “As this report repeatedly makes clear, there is a danger of inflexibility in applying a theoretical response rather than responding to the unique reality every incident poses. This can lead frontline responders to make judgments that might be right on paper but wrong in practice and this in part explains the fire service’s mistakes.”

Airport boss holds talks with BBC’s Frank Gardner after wheelchair incident… but doesn’t think it’s “reasonable” to compensate stuck disabled passengers

Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye has held talks with BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, following an incident where the journalist was left stuck on a plane for almost two hours after his wheelchair went missing. Airport staff had whisked Gardner’s wheelchair onward into the terminal, rather than place it beside the plane’s door as he had expected. In a 25 March tweet, Gardner said: “Just spent (hopefully) 1 of most constructive hrs of my life! @HeathrowAirport CEO took notes as we went thru disabled passengers’ probs at airports. We covered hi-lift failing to turn up, wchairs getting taken off into terminal + more thoughtful attitudes needed twds disabled.”

However, Holland-Kaye ruled out Heathrow paying compensation to disabled passengers who may find themselves stuck on planes for similar reasons. In an interview with Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio 5 Live, Holland-Kaye said: “No, that’s not the way we work currently. We will look at how we serve disabled passengers and what standards we can put in place to make sure we serve them well. We want to get passengers off the plane and on their way as quickly as we can.”

Nolan pressed further, pointing out: “Your industry is set up so that even if you have to change your name on the ticket, there’s a price. If you’re late, there’s a price. If you’re 1kg above the baggage allowance, there’s a price. But if you leave someone sitting on a plane for an hour – doesn’t cost you a penny.” Holland-Kaye replied: “I don’t think it’s reasonable that we should take financial responsibility.”

Women-only co-working brand The Wing in New York human rights probe

New York co-working hubs brand The Wing – featured in our News & Views section only last week – is under investigation from the city’s Commission on Human Rights. According to Jezebel, the recent surge of media coverage around the The Wing has spurred officials to take a look at how the firm operates. Commission press liaison Seth Hoy announced: “We are looking forward to working with The Wing to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.” While Hoy provided no details of the precise line of inquiry that the Commission is pursuing, speculation is rife that the brand’s women-only policy is at issue – with New York City’s Human Rights Law preventing businesses from discriminating on grounds of gender.

Quoted in Jezebel, UC Berkeley Professor of Law Melissa Murray said: “I think it’s patently absurd for [the] Commission to be focusing on The Wing when we’ve had, over the last six months, numerous complaints about workplaces being absolutely hostile to women in terms of pervasive and endemic sexual harassment.”

Online gambling chief admits failings over handling of self-excluded customers

Sky Bet chief executive Richard Flint has accepted the Gambling Commission’s move to fine the firm £1 million after failings emerged in its treatment of self-excluded customers. In an internal review, the company found that 50,000 problem gamblers had continued to receive Sky Bet marketing materials through a host of digital channels after they had self-excluded. Almost 37,000 had not had their balances returned upon closing their accounts – and 736 were easily able to open duplicate accounts that enabled them to carry on betting.

Sky Bet had reported itself to the Commission once the flaws came to light. In a statement, Flint said: “We have always taken responsible gambling and player protection very seriously – but this incident showed that we needed to do more. When we spotted the issue we proactively notified the Gambling Commission and have worked to improve our processes to avoid this happening again. We could and should have made it harder for self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts with us, and for that we are sorry.”

Cricket Australia bans star player Smith from leadership positions following ball-tampering incident

Australian cricket star Steve Smith – compared on more than one occasion to the late Don Bradman – will not be able to hold a leadership role in the national side for the foreseeable future, following his role in ball tampering during a recent Test match against South Africa. Team captain Smith and deputy David Warner have been suspended from international and domestic cricket for 12 months for their roles in the affair, while fellow player Cameron Bancroft has been shelved for nine months.

In a statement, national governing body Cricket Australia said that Smith and Bancroft “will not be considered for leadership roles until a minimum of 12 months after the conclusion of their respective suspensions”, while Warner “will not be considered for team leadership positions in the future [at all]”. The body’s chairman David Peever said that the players’ misconduct goes to the heart of “the integrity and reputation of Australian Cricket and Australian sport, and the penalties must reflect that”.

Image of Manchester Arena attack floral tribute courtesy of Anna Mente, via Shutterstock