A notorious conspiracy theorist who accused victims of the Manchester Arena bombings of being ‘crisis actors’ and faking their injuries as part of a wider hoax could be sued for his comments by survivors of the terror attack.
Richard D Hall is facing the prospect of legal action from a group who lived through the 2017 atrocity, over his ‘repugnant’ claims they were actors who had not been hurt during what Hall insists was a staged attack.
The bombing, which took place during an Ariana Grande concert, injured hundreds and claimed the lives of 22 people, with the youngest victim being eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos.
However, former web designer Hall argued the tragedy was faked and tracked down maimed survivors to secretly film them outside their homes to see if their injuries were real.
Richard D Hall is facing the prospect of legal action 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 near their homes
Hall recorded his ‘documentary’ into the 2017 terror attack in 2020 and released a video and book about his views on it. He is pictured during the BBC Panorama investigation
The bombing left 22 people dead and hundreds more injured. Pictured are police at the scene in the aftermath of the atrocity
Martin Hibbert was paralysed during the Manchester bombings. He is pictured speaking to BBC Panorama
Mr Hibbert’s daughter, Eve, suffered serious injuries during the terror attack in May 2017 and lost the use of an arm and a leg
In 2020, he released his own documentary and book claiming Salman Abedi, an Islamic State fanatic, was not behind the killings.
But the conspiracy theorist’s actions were exposed on Monday evening during an investigation by BBC Panorama.
Now it has emerged that a group of those survivors Hall hunted down are uniting in a bid to sue him.
Neil Hudgell, the solicitor representing the victims, said the group would pursue damages and restraining injunctions against Hall for alleged defamation and harassment.
‘Several of our clients have had this man on their doorstep, taking photographs, invading their privacy in the most intrusive way,’ he told The Times.
‘Martin [Hibbert, one of the survivors] and others are determined to stop this individual from continuing with his repugnant behaviour.’
Among those taking legal action includes Martin Hibbert, 46. He was just 15ft from the bomb when it detonated, showering him with 22 pieces of shrapnel that left him paralysed from the waist down.
Martin Hibbert, 46, was left paralysed from the waist down after shielding his daughter from the blast. Pictured speaking during the Panorama investigation, he blasted Hall for secretly filming his daughter Eve, who was also injured during as a result of the bombings
Conspiracy theorist Richard D. Hall, who appeared in BBC’s investigation, tracked down Manchester bombing survivors to see if their injuries are real. He is pictured being confronted by the BBC’s Marianna Spring
Mr Hibbert’s daughter, Eve, then 14, lost the use of one arm and leg due to a brain injury she received. But she was spied on by Hall, who was shown in the Panorama programme using a hidden camera in a bid to film the 20-year-old.
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 ‘apologise 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.’
But speaking to Panorama, Mr Hibbert said: ‘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 disabled former football agent, of Chorley, Lancashire, added he was furious at Hall and said his daughter had been left with PTSD following the deadly attack on May 22, 2017.
‘He is profiting from other people’s suffering and I won’t have it,’ he told the Manchester Evening News.
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, 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, 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
‘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 proposed legal action against Hall comes after a landmark judgement against infamous American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who claimed the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a fake.
Jones, who runs the fake news website ‘Info Wars’, was ordered to pay at least $965 million to the families of the 20 students and six teachers killed in the 2012 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.
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.
Speaking out following the Panorama programe Disaster Deniers: Hunting the Trolls, Halls insisted it as ‘perfectly legal to have an opinion about whether somebody is telling the truth. And it is perfectly legal to express that opinion.’
Conspiracy theorists who claim British terror attacks have been staged with crisis actors are tracking down victims of the Manchester bombing to see if they are lying about their injuries. Pictured: Police at the scene close to the Manchester Arena
Salman Abedi, one of those responsible for the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017 was jailed for his role in the atrocity
A police officer joins members of the public to help treat the wounded following the blast in Manchester, in May 2017
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, 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.
‘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.’
An inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombings is on-going.
The second volume of the report into the terror attack, detailing the inquiry’s findings and recommendations on the emergency response to the attack, is expected to be published on Thursday afternoon.