£83,000 in Damages for Libyan Man Arrested Then Released After 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing

£83,000 in Damages for Libyan Man Arrested Then Released After 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing
File photo shows armed police officers standing near the Manchester Arena, in Manchester, England, on 23, 2017. (Andrew Yates/Reuters)
Mary Clark

A Libyan man who was arrested in connection with the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing that killed 22 people but later released was awarded £83,000 ($111,000) in damages.

Alaedeen Sicri, 26, was awarded the sum on Dec. 17 after winning a case against Associated Newspapers Ltd. (ANL), which manages MailOnline. The online outlet published personal details about Sicri even though the Greater Manchester Police hadn't identified him.

According to a judgment (pdf) handed down by High Court Judge, Justice Warby, the MailOnline had published details, including initially inaccurate, then, as 44 subsequent versions of the article were updated, accurate details of Sicri’s name.

Article Versions

Article versions also included a description of him as a “trainee Libyan pilot” and “other details capable of leading to his identification by some.”

But later versions of the article made him “identifiable to the world at large,” Warby said, with one version identifying him as “one of Abedi’s ‘associates.’”

Salman Abedi was a 22-year-old British born man of Libyan ancestry.

He died when he blew himself up setting off a bomb in the terror attack which killed 22 people, seven of them children, and injured 264 people, at the end of a concert on May 22, 2017, by the U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande.
His younger brother, Hashem Abedi, denied helping plan the attack that took place in the foyer of the Manchester Arena but was found guilty in March of murder, attempted murder, and conspiring to cause explosions. In August he was sentenced to 55 years in jail for his part in the massacre.
Warby said ANL had, on 29 May 2017, violated Sicri’s “right to expect that the defendant [ANL] would not publish his identity as the 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Manchester Arena bombing,” and awarded him £50,000 ($66,000) in “general damages.”

'Determination to Publish His Name'

Warby said he was satisfied that Sicri was “very upset at the defendant’s [ANL’s] determination to publish his name, and shocked at its failure to take down or amend the Article once it knew of his release.”

He said that Sicri’s distress was genuine and corroborated by a witness who described him as “paranoid and refusing to leave the house in the wake of publication.”

Warby also refuted an assertion made by ANL that a 6-month delay in the Sicri bringing the claim indicated the damage being alleged was not that severe.

“This is a point that some media defendants make, from time to time, in an attempt to cast doubt on the sincerity or merit of a claim,” he said, “but it rarely meets with success.”

The remaining £33,000 ($44,000) of the £83,000 ($111,000) in damages will cover “the reasonable cost of steps taken and to be taken” to secure the taking down of articles containing details about Sicri.

Similar details were published by other media outlets following the publication of the MailOnline article in the early morning of May 29, 2017, including by the Guardian, The Times (of London), The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Mirror, and The Sun, Warby said.

ANL also manages the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the London Metro, Ireland on Sunday.
The Manchester Arena attack was the deadliest in Britain since the 2005 London transport suicide bombings, which killed 52 people.