Survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing have filed a landmark legal action against a conspiracy theorist who accuses them of being ‘crisis actors’.
Martin and Eve Hibbert, who were left with severe disabilities after the 2017 terror attack, are suing Richard D Hall for defamation and harassment over his vile claim that they helped fake the tragedy.
The blast during an concert injured hundreds and killed 22 people, with the youngest victim being eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos.
However, former web designer Hall tracked down maimed survivors to secretly film them outside their homes in an attempt to ‘prove’ they were lying about their injuries.
The case against Hall is the first time such action has been taken against a British conspiracy theorist.In the US, was recently ordered to pay nearly $1.5billion to families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
Richard D Hall is being sued after claiming some of the victims of the Manchester bombings had been part of a hoax.He is pictured showing off a secret camera he used to film survivors
Mr Hibbert was just 15ft from the bomb when it detonated, showering him with 22 pieces of shrapnel that left him paralysed from the waist down.
His daughter Eve, then 14, lost the use of one arm and leg due to a brain injury she received.
In 2020, Hall released his own documentary and book claiming Salman Abedi, an Islamic State fanatic, was not behind the killings.
And last year, that he had spied on Miss Hibbert from a car parked outside her house.
Hall did not respond to request for comment at the news that a case had been filed against him.
Despite Eve leaving the house in a wheelchair, Hall said there was ‘no evidence’ that the injury was a result of the attack.
He has since apologised ‘for any upset caused’, adding in a statement on his website: ‘My actions were motivated by a strong desire to search for the truth about what happened.’
Mr Hibbert told Panorama: ‘I’m all for freedom of speech but it crosses the line when you’re saying I’m an actor or I’ve not got a spinal cord injury or Eve’s not disabled, she’s not in a wheelchair.’
The Hibberts are now seeking an injunction to restrain Hall from making similar allegations in future and damages for some of the harm he has caused them.
Martin Hibbert was paralysed during the Manchester bombings.He is pictured speaking to BBC Panorama
Mr Hibbert’s daughter, Eve – who he is pictured with – suffered serious injuries during the terror attack in May 2017 and lost the use of an arm and a leg
Neil Hudgell, a lawyer representing the family, said he hoped a judgment against the fantasist could set a precedent to help protect future victims from conspiracy trolls.
Mr Hibbert, a former football agent, of Chorley, Lancashire, has previously accused Hall of exploiting survivors to make money.
‘He is profiting from other people’s suffering and I won’t have it,’ he told the .
‘He can say what he wants about me but when it comes after my daughter and those people who have lost loved ones it’s too far.We have enough to deal with just getting through day-to-day life without him.
‘Eve is now 20 years old and is still in and out of hospital because of complications with her injuries. How dare someone say she was acting.’
The action against Hall comes after a landmark judgment against US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting was a fake.
Jones, who runs the fake news website ‘Info Wars’, was ordered to pay at least $965million to the families of the 20 students and six teachers killed in the massacre after he repeatedly and falsely claimed they and their loved ones were actors who faked the tragedy.
The 48-year-old’s lies meant the families had to deal with years of harassment and threats from the far-Right presenter’s followers, on top of their grief.
Meanwhile, Hall has recently had his 80,000-strong YouTube account removed following the BBC investigation.
His previous videos have covered the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, murder of MP Jo Cox, Covid-19 and the 9/11 terror attacks.
The bombing left 22 people dead and hundreds more injured.If you have any inquiries relating to the place and how to use Evden EVe nAkliyAT, EVdEn Eve nakliyAt you can speak to us at our web site. Pictured are police at the scene in the aftermath of the atrocity
He also has a market stall in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, where he sells his films and books and he hosts talks across the country.
Following the Panorama programme Disaster Deniers: Hunting the Trolls, Hall insisted that it was ‘perfectly legal to have an opinion about whether somebody is telling the truth.And it is perfectly legal to express that opinion’.
In a video on his website addressing the claims made by Panorama, Halls added: ‘My opinion is that to my knowledge there has been no satisfactory evidence presented to the public which proves the Manchester incident was not staged.
‘I have made some polite door-to-door enquiries in order to gather evidence which is a perfectly legitimate activity.I did not hide cameras or install a camera outside someone’s home.
‘I did consider placing a camera in a public place in order to gather evidence which is portrayed in my film, evDEn evE NakliyAT however I decided against it and instead I left a camera rolling in my own vehicle which was parked in a public place.
‘I have not accused anyone of lying.It is my opinion that some of the people involved have made some false statements in their media interviews. This is an opinion not an accusation.
‘I am easy to contact via my website and to date I have not received any direct contact by any Manchester victim to complain about my actions.I have carried out polite enquiries which have been within the law.
Mr Hibbert was left paralysed from the waist down after shielding his daughter from the blast
Hall is seen being confronted by the BBC’s Marianna Spring
‘I appealed for information from the public from witnesses who saw what happened…this does not make me responsible for hateful messages sent by people who I don’t know to anyone that was involved.’
It comes last month found it could have been prevented had spies acted on intelligence and put the bomber under surveillance.
The blunder was one of six failings by MI5 and counter-terror police identified by Sir John Saunders in the third and final report from his long-running inquiry.
The retired High Court judge said following terrorist Salman Abedi’s car could have allowed officers to intercept a load of explosives he was carrying inside the vehicle.
After the inquiry’s findings, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said he was ‘profoundly sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack’, adding: ‘I deeply regret that such intelligence was not obtained.’
Sir John laid ‘significant’ blame for Abedi’s radicalisation on his own family, including his father Ramadan Abedi and mother Samia Tabbal, who came to the UK from Libya seeking asylum.
Abedi, 22 at the time of the bombing and his brother Hashem, then 20, who was jailed for life for his part in the plot, had both travelled from their home in south Manchester with their father to Libya in 2011 during the civil war there.
Both brothers were rescued by the Royal Navy from Libya in 2014 after likely fighting during the war.The report says both brothers were radicalised in Libya, where it is ‘probable’ they got training in how to build a bomb.
The victims were (top row, from left) Elaine McIver, 43, Saffie-Rose Roussos, 8, Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, Eilidh MacLeod, 14, (second row, from left) Nell Jones, 14, eVDEN eve naKLiYAt Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15, Megan Hurley, 15, Georgina Callander, 18, (third row, from left), Chloe Rutherford, 17, Liam Curry, 19, Courtney Boyle, 19, and Philip Tron, 32, (fourth row, from left) John Atkinson, 26, Martyn Hett, 29, Kelly Brewster, 32, Angelika Klis, EvDeN EvE NAkliYat 39, (fifth row, from left) Marcin Klis, 42, Michelle Kiss, 45, Alison Howe, 45, and Lisa Lees, 43 (fifth row, from left) Wendy Fawell, 50 and Jane Tweddle, 51
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi was responsible for the attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017