Security chief behind bomb blunder takes blame

LONDON • The managing director of a security company that left behind a dummy bomb responsible for a terror alert at Old Trafford on Sunday has taken "full responsibility" for not removing the item following a training exercise.

Manchester United's final Premier League game of the season against Bournemouth was called off and the 75,000-seater stadium evacuated after the discovery of a suspect device that later turned out to have been left over from a training exercise four days earlier.

Christopher Reid, the managing director of Security Search Management and Solutions, said he was "absolutely gutted" and that the mistake, which has cost United £3 million (S$5.95 million), was entirely his.

"I am absolutely devastated that a lapse in my working protocols has resulted in many people being disappointed, frightened and inconvenienced. Nothing I can say will rectify that," he said.

Reid said he led a practical search exercise at the stadium last Wednesday, which involved hiding a number of homemade dummy explosive devices.

A mix-up led him to record that an eight-inch (20.3cm) fake pipe bomb had been recovered. But it was left on a hook behind a cubicle door in the men's toilet.

Reid would not comment on why the mock bomb was not discovered by staff at Old Trafford for another four days, but said lessons would have to be learnt.

"The protocols that they have are the protocols that they have," he said.

United vice-chairman Ed Woodward said that once the device had been recorded as recovered following the training session, the area had been sealed.

It was then missed during a routine match-day search, a lapse that the club are investigating.

"That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine match-day search of the 100 Club (a hospitality suite) as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers, not dogs," he said.

"We are conducting a detailed evaluation with the help of the police and will share our findings across the rest of the game.

"Valuable lessons will have been learnt from yesterday's events and it is important that those are shared with other stadium operators to ensure that the safety of the public remains the first duty of us all."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Security chief behind bomb blunder takes blame'. Print Edition | Subscribe