Mum whose son was killed in Manchester Arena bombing is studying counter terrorism at UCLan

A mother whose son was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing is studying counter terrorism at university in Preston.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 11:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 12:03 pm

Figen Murray, from Stockport, said she enrolled on a Masters course at University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in September.

Ms Murray's 29-year-old son Martyn Hett was one of 22 concert-goers, including eight-year-old Saffie Roussos from Leyland, who were murdered in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in May 2017.

She said the course has provided her with an insight into how the government's anti-terrorism policies work and how the country can better prepare for future terrorist attacks.

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Ms Murray's 29-year-old sonMartyn Hett was one of 22 concert-goers murdered in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in May 2017. Pic: PA

The UCLan course aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of legislation, policy and the latest methods used to deal with the changing face of violent extremism in the UK and internationally.

Earlier this year, Ms Murray launched her campaign for Martyn's Law in a bid to better protect the public from terror attacks.

Applying knowledge and insight gained from her studies in Preston, Ms Murray is calling on the Government to make security plans mandatory at venues and public spaces.

She said there had been an encouraging response to the idea, which could also see venue staff carrying out counter-terrorism training.

The law would make it a legal requirement for public spaces to have risk assessments and also make sure councils have terror attack plans.

Ms Murray is now calling on politicians from all parties to commit to the idea.

She said: "It's ridiculous that there are regulations for venues on how hot the food needs to be and how many toilets there needs to be but nothing to do with planning for terrorist attacks.

"Times have changed and we need to move with the times.

"Terrorism is still on the menu. It's happening. It will happen again.

"It isn't something that's just going to go away, whether we like it or not.

"Cost shouldn't come into it.

"There are things that can be done that doesn't involve a lot of cost. We can apply common sense."

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She said: "I just know how those parents feel.

"Events like Friday bring it back for all the families (who have lost a relative in a terror attack).

"I'm heartbroken for them."

She said she felt "every word" the parents of the two "young, amazing" victims Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones have said as they mourn the deaths of their children.

But she said the kindness people showed her and the thousands of messages of support she received in the wake of his death helped her to "stay strong".

Amid criticism of the resuming election campaign, where there have been claims parties are using the latest attack for political gain, Ms Murray said she hoped politicians were not exploiting it for "point scoring".

"That would be a shame", said Ms Murray.

"It's not appropriate, it's disrespectful if they did."

Ms Murray was joined more than 70 terror attack survivors and relatives of victims in calling on political parties to better protect them with quicker access to mental health support and compensation.

The open letter was signed by survivors of terror attacks and relatives of victims, including of the shooting in Tunisia in 2015 in which 30 Britons were killed, as well as Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox.