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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 02:48 GMT 03:48 UK
Manchester bombers escape trial
by Rebecca Atkins
BBC News, Manchester

Aftermath of bombing on Cross Street
It is unlikely anyone will be brought to trial for the Manchester bomb
It was the biggest bomb ever to be detonated in mainland Britain but it seems those responsible for the 1996 Manchester explosion are no closer to being brought to justice.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) claim it is now unlikely anyone will be tried for planting the 3,300lb bomb because of a lack of evidence.

In the early aftermath of the explosion police were confident prosecutions would take place thanks to the 1m reward offered for information.

But as the city marks the 10-year anniversary of the bomb, they admit it is unlikely that someone will be held accountable, although officers are not ruling it out if new evidence surfaces.

Deputy Chief Constable Dave Whatton said: "In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, we have concluded that at this time there is no realistic possibility of a prosecution.

Any speculation about individuals alleged to be linked to the incident is unhelpful
Deputy Chief Constable Dave Whatton
"As with all major investigations if new information comes to light it would be considered."

The announcement is cold comfort to the 200-plus people who were injured in the explosion, which caused an estimated 700m damage when it ripped a hole through the heart of Manchester.

Leads were followed up and information surfaced that the bomb was made by the IRA's South Armagh Brigade.

Almost three years after the explosion, the Manchester Evening News was given leaked documents of a police report that identified a prime suspect.

The information revealed special branch officers had monitored the alleged offender for many months after the blast but he was never detained or arrested.

'Tremendous impact'

A report containing this information was submitted to the CPS to see if it was feasible to go to trial and although it was believed there were grounds to arrest him, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Despite this, the newspaper printed a story naming the suspect, who later issued a statement through his solicitor denying any involvement and soon afterwards the police incident room was closed down.

However, a team of officers from GMP's Anti-Terrorist Unit recently decided to carry out a detailed analysis of the case to see if any old leads could be re-investigated.

Dep Chf Con Whatton said: "The Manchester bomb had a tremendous impact on the lives of people in the area, which is why we have thoroughly reviewed the case.

No deaths

"Any speculation about individuals alleged to be linked to the incident is unhelpful as there is insufficient evidence to substantiate charges."

As a result of having no new evidence which could lead to a prosecution, GMP recently released unseen footage of the bomb detonating on Corporation Street.

The video clip, taken from a police helicopter hovering above the crime scene, shows the impact of the explosion as flames shoot into the air and a huge plume of smoke rises high above the city.

But as shocking as the footage is, what makes it truly remarkable is that no-one was killed in the blast.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the moment a bomb exploded in Manchester



SEE ALSO
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22 Nov 05 |  Manchester
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