The inquests into the deaths of 22 people in the Manchester Arena terror attack should be converted into a public inquiry “as a matter of urgency”, a coroner has formally requested.
Earlier this month Sir John Saunders ruled that evidence from MI5 and the police should be kept secret to protect national security.
A public inquiry would mean it could be heard in private, without the presence of the victims’ families and their lawyers.
Hundreds were injured and 22 killed in the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017.
Sir John said that disclosing such evidence could “assist terrorists” in carrying out similar attacks and therefore an “adequate investigation” could not be carried out within the frameworks of the inquests.
He has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel to confirm his decision that a statutory public inquiry is necessary.
The retired High Court judge said: “I would therefore invite you to establish that statutory public inquiry as a matter of urgency to allow for the hearings scheduled to begin in April 2020 to take place as a public inquiry.”
A Home Office spokesman said Ms Patel will “carefully consider” the recommendation and respond “as soon as possible”.
He added “It is vital that those who survived or lost loved ones in the Manchester Arena attack get the answers that they need and that we learn the lessons, whatever they may be.”