Boss of Kent security firm behind fake bomb accidentally left at Old Trafford bemoans 'very unfortunate situation'

PUBLISHED: 15:15 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 17:36 16 May 2016

Bomb disposal van leaves Old Trafford after the game is abandoned during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Bomb disposal van leaves Old Trafford after the game is abandoned during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

PA Wire

Chris Reid, managing director of Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd, spoke outside his home in Biggin Hill

The boss of a Kent-based security firm that accidentally left a fake bomb at Old Trafford yesterday has described it as “a very unfortunate situation”.

Discovery of the device shortly before Manchester United’s final Premier League game of the season against Bournemouth was due to kick off sparked a full evacuation of the 75,000-capacity stadium.

Bomb disposal experts were called in and the game was abandoned while the item - described by police as an “incredibly lifelike explosive device” - was destroyed.

The dummy bomb was left behind by a private firm, understood to be Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd, who conducted a training exercise for sniffer dogs last week.

Manchester United have confirmed that the firm, which is registered to an address on North Cray Road in Bexley, wrongly signed the device as having been recovered at the end of the exercise.

Speaking outside his home in Biggin Hill, managing director Chris Reid said: “It is a very unfortunate situation and the consequences obviously were that a lot of people were inconvenienced.

“Fortunately everybody was fine which is the most important thing.”

Mr Reid - whose LinkedIn page claims he works in Tonbridge - added that he would like to say more about the “security situation” but that he is waiting on Manchester United to contact him.

He worked previouly for G4S where he was responsible for training guards involved in search and screening vehicles and visitors at the London Olympics.

A spokesperson for Manchester United said: “On the discovery of a suspect package, the police and the club worked quickly and closely to identify the threat, make people safe and evacuate the ground calmly and efficiently.

“Fans of both clubs behaved impeccably and the evacuation – the first of its type in the UK – was a complete success.

“Following investigation, the device proved to have been left in error following the training of dog handlers by a sub contractor.

“The contractor had signed the device as having been recovered along with the 13 other devices at the end of the exercise.

“That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine matchday search of the 100 Club, as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers not dogs.”

Manchester’s police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd, meanwhile has described Sunday’s events as “shambolic”.

“I think United have to come up front with all this because in the end it’s their reputation, but it’s also public safety and both those two really do matter,” he said.

“I think United have got to begin to put answers forward and I look forward to hearing what they have to say as soon as possible.

“Fiasco is the right word. It was shambolic. Of course United are a huge organisation. It wasn’t the fact they’re the world’s richest club - that they are - it was the fact that the security had missed something that in the end ought to have been found.

“What’s almost impossible to understand is how in placing so many dummies for an exercise, those dummies were not counted in again. If that was, as I understand it, on Wednesday, really shouldn’t people be searching all the way through till it’s found, whether on Wednesday, on Thursday, on Friday - and certainly long before 20 minutes before kick-off of a major game at a time when already tens of thousands of people were in the ground?

“I think it’s also astonishing that there isn’t a routine sweeping of the ground to find something that seemingly was discovered quite easily once the sweep was taking place 20 minutes before kick-off, but far too late on.”

The match has been rearranged for Tuesday night at 8pm, the Premier League has confirmed.

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