Skip navigation

Tag Archives: UK news

Star described by her representatives as being stable and responding to treatment

Marianne Faithfull has been hospitalised in London with coronavirus.

The singer, who became famous during the swinging London scene of the 1960s and has had a respected (and occasionally troubled) career since, is said to be stable and responding to treatment, according to her representatives.

Her friend, the performer Penny Arcade, told Rolling Stone Faithfull had self-isolated following a cold, and then checked herself into hospital last Monday, where she tested positive for Covid-19. She has since contracted pneumonia.

Faithfull, who is 73, has had various health issues in the past. She suffered from anorexia during a spell of homelessness in central London in the early 1970s, when she was also addicted to heroin. In 2006, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent successful surgery. In 2007, she announced she had hepatitis C, diagnosed 12 years previously. She also has arthritis, and has had other joint issues, including a hip injury which became infected after surgery and forced her to cancel a 2015 tour.

Apart from a decade-long fallow period following her 1960s breakthrough, she has steadily released music throughout her life. Her most recent album was 2018s Negative Capability, described as a masterly meditation on ageing and death in a five-star Observer review.

Read more:

Council workers take advantage of the empty streets to spruce up the crossing featured on the cover of the Beatles 1969 album

The iconic Abbey Road zebra crossing made famous by the 1969 Beatles album of the same name has been repainted while the streets of London are empty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A highways maintenance crew quietly repainted the normally busy zebra crossing on 24 March, the day after the prime minister ordered Britain to go on lockdown in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said: This is a very busy zebra crossing and we repainted the line markings to ensure visibility and increased safety for drivers and pedestrians. Our contractors follow government advice on limiting the spread of covid-19, including social distancing and hand washing.

A site of national importance … the album cover for Abbey Road. Photograph: Pictorial Press/Alamy Stock Photo

The brightened markings can be seen in action on the Abbey Road webcam.

The government designated the crossing a site of national importance in 2010 and it can be altered only with the approval of local authorities. This London zebra crossing is no castle or cathedral but, thanks to the Beatles and a 10-minute photoshoot one August morning in 1969, it has just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage, John Penrose, minister for tourism and heritage said at the time.

The remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Abbey Road album with a deluxe reissue last September. In January, it was announced as the biggest selling vinyl record of the 2010s in the US. It came eighth in the UK, with British Beatles fans apparently preferring Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The cover for Abbey Road was shot at 11.35am on 8 August 1969, as John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr took a break from completing I Want You (Shes So Heavy) and The End, and Paul McCartney paused work on Oh! Darling. Standing on a step ladder in the middle of the road, photographer Iain Macmillan only had time to shoot six photographs on his Hasselblad camera given the oncoming traffic. McCartney selected the fourth image as the cover shot.

Repainting the famous crossing. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

On the albums release, fans became convinced that McCartneys barefoot appearance related to the conspiracy theory that he had died two years earlier and been replaced by a ringer. He had in fact kicked off his sandals because it was hot.

On Abbey Road we were wearing our ordinary clothes. I was walking barefoot because it was a hot day, McCartney told Life magazine later that year. Can you spread it around that I am just an ordinary person and want to live in peace?

He parodied the theory on the cover of his 1993 live album, Paul Is Live, posing with a dog on the crossing. Pop cultural figures from the Simpsons to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Doctor Who have also re-enacted the image.

Read more:

There was a feminist outcry when the band used a tied-up model to promote their 1976 album. Is rocknroll more enlightened now?

Even by the standards of 1970s rocknroll, it was in bad taste: a billboard on Sunset Boulevard of a bruised and bound woman sitting on a gatefold cover of a new Rolling Stones album that proclaimed: Im Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones and I love it.

The 1976 advert triggered an outcry: Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) wrote in the newsletter Breakthrough that the ad campaign exploits and sensationalises violence against a woman for the purpose of increased record sales and contributes to the myth that women like to be beaten, and condones a permissive attitude towards the brutalisation of women.

The controversial advert for the Rolling Stones Black and Blue album from 1976, featuring the model Anita Russell. Photograph: Atlantic Records

Five women connected with the group armed with buckets of fire-engine-red paint, according to the magazine Mother Jones defaced the hoarding, writing This is a crime against women. The bands label, Atlantic Records, pulled the campaign. The band apologised. By way of an explanation, Mick Jagger said hed applied the simulated bruises himself.

I didnt mind at all, in fact I was happy for the work, model Anita Russell told the Observer last week on the 44th anniversary of the albums release and the impending reissue of much of the bands later back catalogue, remastered at Abbey Road using a technique for extracting more sound from the original mastering tapes. Black and Blue is one of 10 albums being reissued and, not surprisingly, it will not be accompanied by the original ad campaign.

Russell recalls that she hadnt expected to get the booking. At a casting with Jagger and photographer Ara Gallant in New York, Russell passed the part-African-American model Pat Cleveland on the stairs and felt sure shed get it. Mick told me I was too pretty, so I smeared my makeup and said, See, Im not so pretty. Then he told me to put my arms up and told me to make a face like Im growling.

Days later, Russell, Jagger, Keith Richards and Gallant got together to make the picture. I knew about Im black and blue from the Rolling Stones, and I knew that the bruises meant Id been beaten and tied. But I wasnt a model who could only pose and look pretty, and I wasnt insulted because I knew it was tongue-in-cheek, she says.

Russell, who is now an equestrian and author, recalls that the musicians were charming and polite. Im an actress-model, so it seemed like fun, she adds. I never thought of it in a negative way. Jagger asked her out. She demurred. I didnt want to get passed around from star to star, but I thought he was cuter than in his photographs.

But the ad came out just as French Vogue published a Helmut Newton picture of a woman wearing a bridle and saddle, amplifying the controversy. Russell played along with the outrage: she posed for a National Lampoon magazine cover imagining Jagger tied up, with Russell looking on, laughing.

Close to half a century on, the billboard ad stands as a turning point. WAVAW organised a boycott of Warner, Elektra and Atlantic Records lasting three years, which was only lifted after Warner Communications agreed to let the group implement a sensitivity training programme for advertising executives at the entertainment giant. There was a riposte a year later when the punk band X-Ray Spex released Oh Bondage Up Yours!.

Evelyn McDonnell, author of Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl theorises that the campaign brought some attention to the album but ultimately overshadowed it. It certainly didnt let the music speak for itself, and the controversy doesnt age well.

While Andrea Dworkin and Women Against Violence might have seemed like radical fringe feminism then, that reaction is mainstream now. A record company just wouldnt allow it nowadays. It would becancel culture, McDonnell says.

The Rolling Stones album cover for their 1976 Black and Blue album.

She points out notwithstanding the fact that women, too, have played extensively with the iconography of bondage and fetishism, from the Plasmatics Wendy O Williams to Shakira throwing off her ropes during Februarys Super Bowl half-time show that equality, real or symbolic, wasnt always forthcoming in the business.

Its better than it was. There are certainly a lot of amazing women artists and theyre more acknowledged in the industry, she says, but its certainly not perfect or equitable.

Its great that Anita Russell felt she had agency in what she was doing, but for women walking down Sunset who might have been in abusive relationships, or were trying to get ahead in the music industry, that billboard might have felt like a reality.

Read more:

Songs, often tinged with dark humour, strike a chord with audiences amid lockdown

From a family in Kent reworking a Les Miserables song to Queens Bohemian Rhapsody being turned into an ode to coping with Covid-19, self-isolation is proving the catalyst for a new breed of homemade viral songwriting.

The Marsh familys interpretation of One Day More clocked up 1.4m views, and made them internet stars with the lyrics (for example: Our grandparents are miles away / they cant work Skype, were brokenhearted) being reworked to reference life during lockdown.

Adrian Grimes and Dana Jay Beins version of Queens classic has clocked up 3.5m views, and turns it into bleak pastiche of the song with lines such as Im just a young boy, no job security. Both the songs share a dark sense of humour, are instantly recognisable to millions and have found an audience around the world.

The latest song to go viral is from a group of Chicago-based stand-up comedians who shot a lo-fi video inspired by this years Icelandic entry to Eurovision, Dai Freyrs Think About Things.

Garrett Williams (@badboygargar)

Day 17: morale is weird

March 30, 2020

Garrett Williams and his housemates shot the video in two hours, edited it over a similar amount of time and then posted the results on Twitter the video attracted more than 5m views within 24 hours of its release.

My roommate sent me the song and we were like this song slaps, said Williams. From there we were dancing to it and thought this could be a fun video, we made some suggestions for dance moves and outfits and put it all together.

The method behind such a huge viral hit is surprisingly simple, according to Williams. He explained that the idea from the Michel Gondry-esque music video came from listening to the song and idly dancing before leaving the house to buy food.

We were waiting to go pick up food or go to the store together and we started to play the song and one of us was bouncing, he said. From that we thought oh lets just make a video where everyone is bouncing the whole time. Thats it.

Williams says he has had friends who have found work in comedy off the back of viral videos and usually timing posts to launch when your audience is largest is a key part of success. However, in lockdown conditions, Williams says there is a new captive audience at almost any time of day, thirsty for brazenly uplifting content.

In our sphere theres a lot of talk about the best time to post, he said. But now everyone is at home no one has any idea about when the best time to post is. I sat on it for a day, and then my friends said just go for it, post it. So I did and its blown up in 24 hours.

Another motivation for Williams, Grimes and the Marsh family was to stay occupied while in isolation, with Williams saying the video filled the void of not having work to be busy with.

Our group likes to be on the go, were always doing shows and trying to keep busy with work, he said. With the quarantine situation we havent had a project, so last week we had a couple of ideas floating around and made this one.

There has been some negative reaction to the songs, particularly Grimes cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. Grimes addressed criticism of the songs lyrics such as Mama, I just killed a man / I didnt stay inside in bed / I walked past him, now hes dead, which were branded insensitive.

He explained that his wife was involved in healthcare and so he was aware of the impact Covid-19 was having on people. Grimes encouraged people to maintain their sense of humour and said he had also received many comments from people already affected by coronavirus have told me how much they appreciate this.

Williams thinks the parody videos are proving so popular but people were looking for something fun to distract themselves during isolation and also spending more time online.

At this time when there is a lot of bleak news, and really heavy stuff coming through people are looking for something that they can disassociate to, he said. Something that people can say oh, this is fun. We can still have fun and not have to be so scared all the time about everything.

Read more:

Socially conscious singers hit version of Young, Gifted and Black reached No 5 in the UK charts with duo Bob and Marcia

Bob Andy, the reggae vocalist who performed a hit version of Young, Gifted and Black as part of the duo Bob and Marcia, has died aged 75 after a short illness.

His death was confirmed by his collaborator on that song, Marcia Griffiths, who told the Jamaica Observer he died at 8am on Friday 27 March.

Bob & Marcia reached No 5 in the UK in 1970 with Young, Gifted and Black, an uptempo recording of the Nina Simone original. They also reached No 11 in 1971 with Pied Piper, which spent 13 weeks in the charts.

Andy was born Keith Anderson in Kingston, Jamaica, and began his career in the groups the Binders and the Paragons before going solo in the mid-1960s. Recording in the legendary Studio One under producer Coxsone Dodd, he cut songs that would become reggae standards, such as Ive Got to Go Back Home and Too Experienced.

He also wrote songs that would be recorded by reggae stars including Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe and Delroy Wilson, along with solo numbers for Griffiths, although their partnership ended when she joined the I Threes, Bob Marleys group of backing vocalists.

Young, Gifted and Black was just one of his socially conscious songs. Others, such as Fire Burning and Check It Out, castigated capitalism and the ruling classes. But he suffered from health issues, including migraines, and put music to one side for a number of years from the late 1970s onwards, broadening into acting. He also became an A&R for Tuff Gong records, the label founded by Marley.

As his health improved, Andy returned to music in the 1990s. In 2006, he was awarded Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his services to music.

Reggae DJ David Rodigan was among those paying tribute, writing on Twitter: We all loved you Bob Andy and we know how much you loved us, your legions of fans all over the world. At least you are at peace now; youve left us a truly remarkable repertoire of songs which we will all treasure for ever.

Read more:

San Francisco appeals panel reinstates 2016 judgment that found no proof 1971 song breached copyright of Taurus by Randy Wolfe

A US appeals court has reinstated a ruling that British rockers Led Zeppelin did not steal part of their song Stairway to Heaven from another band.

The San Francisco 11-judge panel affirmed a 2016 judgment that found no proof the classic 1971 Zeppelin song breached the copyright of Taurus, written by Randy Wolfe from a Los Angeles band called Spirit.

In 2018 that ruling was overturned by a three-judge panel in San Francisco, which said certain instructions to the district court jury had been erroneous and prejudicial, and failed to clarify that the arrangement of elements in the public domain could be considered original.

Led Zeppelin took the case to a larger panel whose decision on Monday, based on the 1909 Copyright Act, put the original ruling back in place.

Stairway to Heaven is estimated to have grossed $3.4m during the five-year period that was at issue in the earlier civil trial.

The Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page who was sued along with the groups singer Robert Plant and another surviving bandmate, John Paul Jones testified in 2016 that the chord sequence in question had been around forever.

But Wolfes trustee, Michael Skidmore, said the songs had similar chord progressions and Page may have written Stairway to Heaven after hearing Taurus while Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together.

Obviously the court got it wrong, said the trustees lawyer, Francis Malofiy. This is a big loss for creators, those who copyright laws are meant to protect. Malofiy said he may appeal to the US supreme court.

Lawyers for Led Zeppelin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The decision in the five-year-old case was a victory for a music industry still combating fallout from a 2015 verdict that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams 2013 hit Blurred Lines copied Marvin Gayes 1977 hit Got To Give It Up.

Jurors awarded Gayes children $7.4m, which was later reduced to $5.3m. The singer Katy Perry is appealing against a $2.8m verdict reached last August in a copyright case over her song Dark Horse.

Read more:

The long read: Even before it opened, the Dome had become a byword for failure. But two decades on, it could be time for a reassessment

The first inhabited place on Earth to ring in the year 2000 was probably the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. As dancers on the beaches welcomed the dawn of the millennium, on the other side of the planet, in Greenwich, final preparations were underway for the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome. This was the night when the first 10,000 specially invited people would finally see what was inside the big white tent in south-east London that had been the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny for the previous four years. It had to be perfect.

By 7pm in Greenwich, it was apparent that there was a problem. In the weeks before the event, because of a logistical cock-up, hundreds of guests had not received their tickets through the post. Ticketless guests had been instructed to pick them up on New Years Eve at Stratford station, before hopping on the newly completed Jubilee line to the Dome for the festivities. But on the night, body scanners installed by police at Stratford werent working, and before long, several hundred people were stuck in the station. When the prime minister, Tony Blair, arrived two hours later while fireworks illuminated more than 1 million people gathered in Moscows Red Square angry invitees, including many of the UKs newspaper editors, were still no closer to boarding a train to Greenwich.

There was more trouble to come. At 10pm GMT, as Nelson Mandela marked the new year by lighting a single candle in his old prison cell on Robben Island, Jennie Page, the chief executive of the Dome company, had just received some further unwelcome news. Rushing to witness the Queen receiving the Millennium medal, a specially commissioned honour to mark the occasion, Page was stopped and, in her words, told about the bomb. The police had received a call to inform them that there was an explosive device in the Blackwall tunnel, which ran beneath the Dome. Blair and the Queen were also informed.

About 15 minutes later, Peter Higgins, designer of one of the Domes 14 zones, was giving a tour to Blair, his wife Cherie and their children. I just thought: this guys not listening, recalled Higgins. He was ashen-faced, and holding his family. During the tour, Blair, as well as the police and Page, had to decide whether or not to cancel the countrys millennium celebration, the culmination of many years work and 750m of investment. It was a decision one would have preferred not to have to take, Page said, gravely.

They carried on. The call turned out to be a hoax, there was no explosion, and the stranded guests at Stratford did eventually make it to the Dome for the countdown, despite having missed the festivities beforehand. After four years of politicians and press forecasting the projects failure, by the time midnight reached Greenwich, just as 39 tonnes of fireworks were forming a river of fire down a four-mile stretch of the Thames in central London, it seemed as if the people behind the Dome had pulled it off.

The next morning, the headlines told a different story. The Black Hole of Stratford East read one. The 758m disaster zone read another. Michael Heseltine, who sat on the Millennium Commission, which had brought the Dome to life, blames the standstill at Stratford. It was a PR disaster, he told me recently. A lot of the people who didnt get there on time were the very people who were going to report the event.

But for the thousands of people involved in putting on the Millennium Experience, from government ministers to service staff, the worst was yet to come. For the duration of the year that the Dome was open, it was perceived as a catastrophe. Richard Rogers, one of the architects behind the building, said in 2015 that it couldnt have had a worse reception if youd worked hard to deliberately upset everybody. Twenty years later, it is still a byword for New Labour hubris, squandered resources and hideously bungled planning.

In fact, it was a byword for all of these things before it even opened. The urge to think of the Dome as something pitiable was apparent long before anybody actually saw what was inside. In the final paragraph of Elizabeth Wilhides official book on the Millennium Dome, published in 1999, she writes that its legacy, the Domes true meaning, will only be known long after the moment has passed, when the children who are its visitors today grow up and look back. Now, doing just that, it is clear that the prevailing narrative that the Dome was a total failure is not or at least not quite the full story.

When we met recently, in a country pub near her home, Jennie Page spoke of her time on the Dome with the same dignified forbearance you sometimes see in military veterans. There are a lot of things I will not talk about, she told me. In 1995, she became head of the Millennium Commission, which had been established to distribute funds generated by the National Lottery. She now carried the daunting responsibility of deciding on a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition to mark the new millennium.

In February 1996, Greenwich was selected as the site for the Millennium Exhibition, not least because of the connection to Greenwich mean time, but it would be years before real progress was made in deciding what form the exhibition itself would take. At that point, the commissions most urgent task was coming up with the structure, or structures, to house the exhibition. Mike Davies, who went on to become the lead architect on the Dome in April 1996, knew that once the site was chosen, constructionwould need to start as soon as possible. Four years is not very long for big projects. John McElgunn, a partner at Daviess old firm Rogers Stirk Harbour, said: Its like asking somebody to hurry through their pregnancy in four months.

The building would also need to solve the problem of the sites exposure to the elements. In March, we were on the site, and it was minus four, Davies told me. Whatever else they did, the site was definitely going to need shelter. Standing there in the bitter wind on the peninsula, he had his eureka moment: Lets do a mega cover.

Davies, who always dresses head to toe in red, is still clearly infatuated with the design of the Dome. For more than two hours, he spoke animatedly about it, showing me early drawings like a proud parent with an ultrasound picture. He was particularly enthused about the way the Dome embodied the concept of time. Twelve months of the year, so 12 masts, 365 metres in diameter, and with 24 scallops, like 24 hours in a day, he explained. The concept fit the bill perfectly, and was phenomenally cheap at 42m. When plans for the building were released in June 1996, though, not everybody was impressed. Wonderbra ran an ad campaign with the slogan Not all domes lack public support.

The body zone inside the Millennium Dome in 2000. Photograph: Justin Kase RF/Alamy

Over Christmas 1996, Page and her team settled on a budgetfor the whole Millennium Experience: 750m, pieced together from corporate sponsorship, National Lottery money and ticket revenue from 12 million visitors. But there was a potential iceberg on the horizon. Although there had been a Labour minister on the Millennium Commission, this was a Conservative government project, and Labour looked likely to win the general election in May 1997. If the new prime minister wasnt on board, the whole project would be axed. But if the building was going to be finished in time for 1 January 2000, they had to keep going regardless. That was a terrible period, Page said briskly.

On 1 May, Labour won the election by a landslide, ending almost 20 years of Conservative rule. The mood of triumphant invulnerability in the Labour camp was one the Dome company could capitalise on. As media scrutiny of the project intensified, with the Sun running headlines like Dump that Dome, Pages team put their plan to the government a plan that emphasised New Labour-friendly aims. The Dome would, among other things, raise the self-esteem of the individual and enhance the worlds view of the nation.

Despite misgivings about the cost, the scale, and the London location for an event that was supposedly for the whole country, on 19 June 1997, Blair announced that Labour was on board. Here, perhaps, was a chance to make a physical monument to everything that New Labour Britain would be about: youthful exuberance, unashamed pleasure, looking with optimism to the future rather than clinging to tradition; a single amazing experience that could bring the country together. New Labour really did think it was going to be some sort of quasi-political, sociological experience that would underpin everything that they were about, the exhibition designer Peter Higgins told me incredulously.

Speaking to his party about possible celebrations for the millennium at the 1995 Labour conference, Blair had announced that there were now a thousand days to prepare for a thousand years. By mid-1997, time was already running out to get what was the largest construction project in Europe finished before the deadline to end all deadlines.

Now that the Dome had Labours stamp of approval, the organisers were faced with a pressing question: what was the Dome actually going to be? There were nine ideas for zones body, mind, spirit, work, rest, play, local, national, global but beyond that, not much. Only now, two years into the project, was serious thought devoted to the contents of this exhibition, already being billed by the government as the biggest, most thrilling, most entertaining, most thought-provoking experience anywhere on the planet.

Under the supervision of Peter Mandelson, the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), as the Dome company had been renamed, gave designers a brief that consisted mostly of open-ended questions. For the body zone, they included Are we what we eat? and What about designer people? Higgins, whose company, Land Design, ended up creating the Domes play zone, told me the brief was very thin, and we werent given a budget at all. For Blairs part, he was on the lookout for content that had what he called the Euan factor content cool enough that his 13-year-old son would want to see it.

In addition to the zones, a spectacular performance would take place in the Domes central space. An initial proposal from the theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh, involving an enormous stage and a huge cast including children, was rejected by Page. It involved 42 horses, she told me, shaking her head. Instead, the rock show designer Mark Fisher took over. With singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, he came up with a story inspired by Romeo and Juliet, which would be performed by more than 100 aerial gymnasts, who would be gathered from all over the country and trained for two years beforehand.

There were now 14 zones, each designed by a different company. In an attempt to try to give the visitor experience some kind of coherence, Stephen Bayley, a design consultant and critic who had worked with Terence Conran, was drafted in. Six months later, in December 1997, he parted ways with the Dome, after his proposals were deemed too highbrow. When we spoke last year, in his studios in Chelsea, Bayley lamented the sub-Disney plans for the zones. Higgins agreed that the project had needed a master puppeteer, but smiled wryly when Bayley came up in our conversation. He was so the wrong person. He sat in one of our meetings just reading Proust in French on a sofa.

The Millennium Dome during construction. Photograph: Avalon/Alamy

Eventually, Page and her team came up with something they called the Litmus Group to oversee the content of the Dome, composed of cultural luminaries such as Alan Yentob and Michael Grade. Their suggestions were of varied quality, according to the zone designers. God, the input was totally worthless, said Higgins.

Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson visited Disneyworld Florida in search of inspiration. According to Adam Nicolsons richly informative book on the Dome, Regeneration, Mandelson spent this trip breaking into a run to avoid being photographed in the same frame as Mickey Mouse. It was leapt on by the press, which ran headlines such as Mandelson in a Disney about his Dome. It was so predictable, Mandelson told me, the press thought they were entitled to know everything, and anything that was held back, theyd punish you for it.

By February 1998, the Domes contents were secure enough that prototypes of six of the zones body, mind, spirit, rest, work and living island were ready to be unveiled. The launch ceremony took place at the Royal Festival Hall on Londons South Bank, once the site of the Festival of Britain, the much-revered 1951 exhibition that served as inspiration to many of the Domes creators. This is a chance to demonstrate that Britain will be a breeding ground for the most successful businesses of the 21st century, Blair told the audience. Mandelson spoke, too, telling the room that if the Millennium Dome is a success, it will never be forgotten. If it is a failure, we will never be forgiven.

The launch did not go down well. Everybody found their own problem with it: it was too political, insufficiently historical, too populist, not populist enough. The moment you have a big project in this country, the forces of darkness gather, Heseltine grumbled to me. Davies remembers how strongly people felt: I would go home in a taxi, and this vituperation would pour out about what a scandalous waste of money the Dome was.

Since it was a government project, the government kept tight controls on what those involved could and could not say. Gez Sagar, an ex-Labour party press officer who was now doing press for the Dome, briefed everybody on what he called the line to take (LTT). It consisted of four central messages: Its the peoples show. Its the most exciting experience of the millennium. Its good for Britain. Its going well.

In June 1998, the final piece of the 10 hectares of fabric went up on the Domes roof, and the people involved in the project stood awe-struck beneath its complete canopy for the first time. The Dome is huge; weather systems would form inside it if it wasnt for its Teflon roof, and the air it contains weighs more than the structure itself. It just had this gorgeous sense of space when you walked into it, Chris Smith, then the culture secretary, told me. Charles Falconer, who later took over from Mandelson as Labours Dome minister, recalled this feeling with evident pleasure: I loved being inside it, I loved the whole physicality of the Dome. I absolutely loved it.

Beneath the roof, however, all was not well. Political advisers, who referred to themselves as content editors, clashed with the zone designers, as they attempted to ensure it was New Labour-appropriate. If this was to be a flagship for Blairs vision of Britain, it needed to send the right messages: the content had to be popular, pro-business, future-oriented and, above all, optimistic. Keeping the politicians hands off it was a big struggle, Page told me.

With more than 30,000 visitors expected every day in 2000, one thing the Dome would need was extensive catering. There were to be two enormous branches of McDonalds, as well as a YO! Sushi and a cafe called Simply Internet. Twenty years on, Bayley still rues the catering. He proposed a farmers market; he got fast food. You could have had sourdough bread and goats cheese, he told me. Instead the public had to eat filth from McDonalds.

Pleasing the sponsors, of which McDonalds was one, was of paramount importance. Without sponsorship money of 12m per zone, the project was financially unviable. But what the zone designers wanted, what the politicians wanted and what the sponsors wanted were often incompatible. Higgins play zone was initially paired with Sky. It was hopeless, he told me. They said to us, in a very aggressive way, the future of play is about digital television, because thats what they were launching at the time. Zaha Hadids mind zone was sponsored by the arms manufacturers Marconi and BAE systems.

One of the designer Tim Pynes four zones was work, previously titled Licensed to Skill, which was sponsored by the recruitment giant Manpower. He told me that his zone ended up reflecting the sponsors very particular idea of what an exhibit about the future of work should be: No job security, zero-hours contracts and moving from job to job as an agency worker. Pynes initial plans for the zone had involved visitors getting sacked at the beginning, but Labour party advisers instructed him to scrap the idea because it was thought a recession might be coming.

No zone saw more interference than the faith zone. The triangular, non-denominational design for the space, by Eva Jiin, was met with outcry from religious leaders all over the country, who were also worried that the commercialised environment of the Dome would make a mockery of religion itself. Is Rupert Murdochs name going to appear on the manger at Bethlehem? asked the Bishop of Woolwich. The government felt that the structure Jiin designed looked too much like a pyramid, which would evoke new-age spirituality rather than religion. Jiins solution was simple: I put a plastic blob hat on it, she told me. The hat did not pass muster, and the final design that the UKs religious leaders agreed to was all but disavowed by Jiin by the end.

Get the Guardians award-winning long reads sent direct to you every Saturday morning

In October 1998, on the building site inside the Dome itself, the BBC held a televised debate about whether the Dome was going to be good or bad. All the participants wore hi-vis jackets and hard hats. While the children in the audience looked on nonplussed, the art critic Brian Sewell jabbed his finger at the Domes director of operations, Ken Robinson, and demanded repeatedly: Tell us what is in it. Robinson declined, and the rumour mill continued to turn. I remember that in the years before the opening, when I was about seven years old, my school playground in London was abuzz with talk of what might be inside. More than one person I know remembers hearing that there was going to be an anti-gravity chamber.

Six months before the grand opening, details of all 14 zones were finally made public. The money zone featured a tunnel made of 50 banknotes behind glass amounting to 1m, and an invitation to guests to go on a million-pound spending spree with virtual cash. At the our town story zone, schools from around the country were invited to put on performances about their local area. These were strictly limited to 20 minutes each. (Nicolson quotes Robert Warner, the head of the Domes live events, as saying at the time that they didnt want a three-hour opera about Grimsby.) The body zone would allow visitors to walk through the inside of a human body, complete with moving organs and animatronic pubic lice.

During the final months of preparations, the Dome attracted yet more sceptical comment. JG Ballard wrote in the New Statesman that the building resembled a sinister abattoir disguised as a circus tent. According to Page, those months were a frightful rush, and it was made much worse by the government changing the policy about ticketing, 10 months before we opened. She whispered 10 months again and shook her hands at the ceiling in disbelief. Falconer had decided to give away 1 million free tickets to schoolchildren, an idea that was not in the business model. But the Dome was the property of the nation, Falconer told me. We wanted as many school children as possible to come.

As the Dome finally began to take shape, the conceptual weakness of the experience was becoming increasingly clear. It was, after all, pretty difficult to deliver an experience for the nation a grand day out that could, in some way or other, delight every single person in Britain, while staying within budget, keeping the sponsors happy, pleasing the press and embodying the governments preferred vision for the future of the country. The Dome needed to be educational, but fun. Accessible yet challenging. Entertaining for children, stimulating for adults. It had to be the greatest show on earth, but also serve as an advertisement for sponsors like Boots the chemist.

As with any big project, the final weeks were chaotic. With just a few weeks to go until opening night, Tim Pyne was working on the worlds largest billboard about as tall as a four storey house and as wide as a Boeing 747 which would form the outside of the learn zone. It was a photograph of Richmond Park, which was being printed in a special facility in Iceland because of its enormous size. The printers called Pyne to ask whether the naked man in the woods, visible in the photograph at its full size, was a deliberate inclusion. Pyne had to make clear that the flasher was an unintentional feature, and that the whole billboard would need to be reprinted. Elsewhere, glass pillars for the faith zone languished in Paris, incomplete, and the dark brown paint on the pubic hairs for the body zone had been chipped off in transit.

I asked Ray Winkler, who worked on the Domes central show, what the mood was like in those last few weeks. Oh you know, he replied. Mild panic? Sheer panic?

I think I probably had a breakdown, said Pyne.

On 1 January 2000, when the Dome finally threw open its doors to the public, what did the people involved think of what they saw? Some remember enjoying the exhibition, but Michael Heseltine paused before choosing his words: I think that we could have done a better job. Chris Smith told me that the content was worthy. Simon Jenkins, who was on the Millennium Commission, said it was dull. Bayley noted that the Dome was, in a sense, quite impressive. He added: You could spend 750m on a pile of horseshit and it would be impressive, but would it be worth the money?

Soon reports were emerging that turnout was low. In certain parts of the Dome, though, the problem was too many visitors at once. Queues for the body zone spiralled up to two hours long. In one sense, wed overhyped it, Page admitted of that exhibit. In early February, it was announced that in the previous month, the Dome had welcomed less than half the number of visitors required to break even. Page was asked to resign, something that few people I spoke to think was fair. Ive never seen anybody so dedicated in my life, Mike Davies told me, and Im prepared to say in public that I think she was the scapegoat.

By aiming for 12 million visitors, the company behind the Dome created the impossible criteria by which its success would be judged. The combined number of tickets sold for Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye in 2000 was 8m. As the actual number of visitors began to look more like half their projection, the Dome team were forced back to the Millennium Commission to ask for emergency funding three separate times over the course of the year.

After Pages resignation, the man hired to rescue the Dome was PY Gerbeau, an infectiously optimistic ex-Eurodisney executive who wore suits slightly too big for him and rode around the Dome on a micro-scooter. Newspapers nicknamed him the Gerbil. I do not think, Falconer began to laugh, and this is our fault, not his, that he quite had an understanding of the scale of the problem. Gerbeau seemed to have grasped it by the time he left in 2001, at least, when he told the New Yorker magazine that the 12 million visitors estimation was one of the two or three stupidest things I have ever heard.

Gerbeaus main job was damage limitation. He reduced ticket prices, and brought in a funfair around the edge of the Dome in the summer, and a skating rink in the winter. In the face of adversity, the marketing team for the Dome gamely attempted to turn the ever-worsening reputation to its advantage. Adverts ran of disappointed children asking their parents why they never went to the Dome, with a voiceover saying The Millennium Experience at the Dome is closing for ever. Maybe youll love it maybe you wont. Why not come and decide for yourself, while you still can?

One set of visitors the Dome company could have done without was a gang of would-be thieves who drove a JCB digger into the side of the Dome one day in November, in a failed attempt to steal the Millennium Star, a large gemstone that the diamond company De Beers had contributed to the money zone. Adam Liversage, a press officer at the Dome, was asked about it by a journalist a few weeks later. In any other press office, something like that would be the story of a lifetime, he replied. But here it was just a question of, OK, Ill go and take a look. Shortly afterwards, JCB ran an advert featuring a picture of one of their diggers with the tag line the only thing that worked to plan.

The Dome closed, with relatively little fanfare, at 6pm on 31 December 2000. Blair had appeared on BBC Ones Breakfast with Frost a few months earlier, and admitted: If I had known then what I know now about governments trying to run a visitor attraction it was too ambitious. At the end of Nicolsons book, he describes the organisers, under constant attack and fighting an uphill battle to deliver the project, as throwing a dance on Omaha beach. Its an expression Ive never forgotten, Page said.

Peter Mandelson, John Prescott and Tony Blair attending the topping out ceremony at the Millennium Dome in 1998. Photograph: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy

In February 2001, a public auction for the Domes contents was held at the site. One of the most eye-catching lots, a six-foot plastic hamster, went for 3,700 to a man named Brent Pollard, to furnish a visitor attraction he ran in Kent. These days, Millie short for millennium, as the local Kent schoolchildren named her resides in a warehouse near the town of Sandwich, along with a large collection of military vehicles owned by Rex Cadman, a friend of Pollards who accompanied him to the auction.

Shes just lovely, Cadman said proudly, as we stood in front of the slightly chipped fibre-glass figure a few weeks ago. The warehouse also contains a number of other Dome items that Cadman picked up at the auction, including a large oil painting of Blackadder, who featured in a specially commissioned film shown at the Dome. Having spent several months researching how these objects came into existence, I felt strangely humbled by seeing them preserved there, as if I was in the presence of artefacts from some once mighty civilisation. An alien, presented with only these objects as evidence, would have to assume that the civilisation that produced them was naively optimistic, concerned primarily with jolly novelties and with no coherent sense of style whatsoever.

Perhaps the most recognisable element of the Millennium Experience, the outer shell of the body zone, was too big to be sold in its entirety, although tiles from its surface were used as the bidding paddles at the auction. In the end, the body was eventually dumped in a hole near the Dome as landfill. Higgins told me that the feeling was just get it done, and then line up the skips.

The Dome lay empty, a ruin before its time, for 18 months while the government struggled to find it a future. Proposals for the buildings afterlife included a super casino, a business park and a stadium for Charlton Athletic. In May 2001, on the morning of Labours manifesto launch, the leader of the Conservative party, William Hague, stood outside the Dome to deliver a short speech. This Teflon tent, he said, is the ultimate monument to Labour, and today they both stand empty.

It wasnt until a year later, in May 2002, that the US entertainment company AEG stepped in to purchase the building. The deal was that AEG would invest hundreds of millions of pounds into redeveloping the site as a music venue, later to be named the O2 Arena, and give the government 15% of its profits. The site itself was sold for 1.

I guess they didnt really have any other alternative, Alex Hill, the present head of AEG Europe told me as he showed me around the O2 late last year, but I think the vast majority of people did not believe that something would be created of this level of success. The O2 Arena opened its doors in 2007, and has been the most popular music venue in the world every year since.

Mike Daviess versatile building adapted well to its new purposes. Apart from the 20,000-seat live music and sports venue, the Dome now houses an outlet shopping centre, an indoor trampoline park and a bowling alley. There is also a pop-up football experience where you can play against a virtual goalie, just as you could in Higgins play zone 20 years earlier.

The success of the O2 is the most obvious vestige of the Millennium Experience, and the one that people involved in the Dome are most keen to emphasise. Its a brilliant success, Mandelson told me a number of times during our conversation. Im not going to look you in the eye and say that this is what we always intended, said Heseltine, but weve taken a lot of stick and, well, Im going to take a bit of credit.

It was undoubtedly an expensive way of doing it, but the Dome did give some badly needed new life to the Greenwich peninsula. By 1998, Greenwich had one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country. Regeneration was one of the Millennium Commissions key considerations when choosing the site. When I mentioned this to Heseltine, he suddenly lit up. I was absolutely clear that we needed to use this as a regenerative process, he said. I have no apologies for that.

Mabel performing at the Brits in February 2020. The annual award show has been held at the O2 Arena since 2011. Photograph: JM Enternational/Rex/Shutterstock

On the December afternoon when I visited, as part of an Up at the O2 tour, I climbed on to the roof of Dome, just as the sun was setting. From the apex of the Domes curve, the entire peninsula is visible, a landscape that has transformed during the past two decades. When the construction workers building the Dome looked out from this point in the late 90s, they would have had an uninterrupted view of the Thames looping around them. Today, that great sweeping view is partially obscured by an Intercontinental hotel, several new blocks of flats and Ravensbourne University, which relocated to Greenwich peninsula in 2010.

Before the Dome was built, the peninsula was empty of buildings and covered with toxic soil from the gasworks that had closed back in 1976. Today, the land has been detoxified and the Dome continues to create jobs for local people. But the regeneration is still far from perfect. Unemployment rates remain relatively high, and although more affordable housing was built in Greenwich between 2012 and 2016 than in any other London borough, the figure was still only 40%, even as new developers throw up luxury apartment blocks. A Chinese company called Knight Dragon has secured planning permission for 15,000 more homes on the peninsula, and a design district of artists studios and shops.

There have been other, less visible legacies. Matt Costain, who played the lead role of Sky Boy in the Domes central show, told me that the performers training programme created an entire industry of circus and acrobatics in the UK. I meet domies all the time, he told me. Some of those people are now Cirque du Soleils top troubleshooting clowns. Many of the performers who trained at the Dome went on to perform in that much more successful act of nation branding, the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

Like the Olympics, the Dome has left a firm imprint in the national imagination. It is remembered as a white elephant, a cautionary tale. But the truth is that this doesnt match up with the visitor response at the time. Independent visitor approval polls carried out by Mori showed as many as 90% of the 6 million people who visited the Dome enjoyed themselves. The thing wasnt built for architects, it was built for the public, said Mandelson. It was for families.

Children in particular loved the Dome, as the people who were in charge are quick to affirm. Lord Falconer told me he went a staggering 57 times with his family, a fact I confirmed with his daughter Rose, who was nine-turning-10 in 2000. Its funny, she told me, because we did go about 50 times, and we loved it, but when I think about the Dome even I think of it as a complete disaster.

For this piece, I spoke to people from all over the country who remember going as children. Some didnt enjoy themselves, of course. Many remember being frightened of the body zones beating heart. But most remembered visiting the Dome as a vivid, strange and invigorating occasion. They told me about the thrill of going to London, of seeing a digital camera for the first time, of feeling part of something bigger than themselves, of excitement about the future they were stepping into, and of dreaming about the Dome even now. One person who visited from south Wales aged 12 told me that she remembers not understanding at the time why the papers were calling it a failure. I was blissfully unaware of the politics behind it, she said. I had a great time.

The Domes less than glorious reputation is a source of regret for some. One of the things that makes me crossest, when I admit to being cross, Page confessed, is that so many people who worked on the Dome, who were so good, have not been allowed to feel good about themselves. Falconer feels the same. It was the failure of the politician, he said, pointing to himself, not the failure of the people working in the Dome. It is, however, difficult to know how it could have gone differently. Page told me that, in her view, much of the negative press was to do with the influence of politics on the Dome. But on the other hand, she said, Without the politics, it would never have happened.

The creators of the Dome set out to provide an experience that would unite the country. In a way, they succeeded. There is something unifying, and typically British, in our collective enthusiasm for enshrining the memory of the Dome as being a bit shit, be that memory accurate or not. It may well be that this same sort of national unity in disdain will repeat itself in the near future. In 2018, Theresa May announced plans for a 120m Festival of Brexit Britain, now renamed Festival 2022, showcasing the best of the UKs talent in business, technology, arts and sport. Planning is going ahead, and the festivals head, Martin Green, expects to announce a programme by the end of 2021. Oh for Gods sake, said Heseltine, rolling his eyes when I mentioned the festival. Put it in Dover and everyone can go before they leave.

Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, and sign up to the long read weekly email here.

Read more:

Trumps war on science and Johnsons civil service purge may be on hold but their politics of polarisation lives on, says Guardian columnist John Harris

In most crises we tend to see the story we want to see. And in this one, those of us who cling on to collectivist, egalitarian ideas can discern things that speak to our sense of how the world ought to be organised. To find crumbs of political comfort in a dire public health emergency might seem inappropriate. But unforeseen events always have consequences beyond their immediate impact: just because they fit some of our existing beliefs that does not make them any less real.

Even if the new imperative of social distancing sounds like the ultimate example of individualism and frantic panic-buying does not exactly look like an expression of altruism, our shared humanity has also been brought to the surface, or soon will be. As the rapid appearance online of community help initiatives proves, we are already getting used to doing some of what the common good requires.

Quick guide

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms in the UK

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them youre staying at home.

People who are self-isolating with mild symptoms will not be tested.

Source: NHS England

And as usually happens with sudden adverse events, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has pushed the state and public sector into the foreground. The government machine suddenly looks less like the sclerotic inconvenience that annoys people like Dominic Cummings than the most basic means of help we have. Only weeks ago, people close to Boris Johnson were declaring war on the civil service and the BBC; now, both institutions are surely at the heart of however we collectively proceed. Ministers are suddenly back on the Radio 4 Today programme. Mindful that people have actually not had enough of experts, Johnson is now at pains to be seen deferring to the chief medical officer and the governments chief scientific adviser. If the big-spending budget suggested that Cummings and his allies quest to pull Conservatism somewhere different was in full roar, the arrival of Covid-19 surely means their revolutionary plans for the state have been postponed.

Something comparable may be afoot in the US. Last week, the New York Times ran a piece of political analysis headlined Trump meets an enemy that cant be tweeted away. Covid-19, said the writer, does not respond to Mr Trumps favourite instruments of power: it cannot be cowed by Twitter posts, it cannot be shot down by drones, it cannot be overcome by party solidarity, it cannot be overpowered by campaign rally chants. Reality, it seemed, had suddenly intruded on a presidency built on performance and manipulation, and Trump had instantly been found wanting.

Again, whatever ones politics, there is an undeniable truth to all this. As we know, the US is way behind other countries on testing, and cuts made by the Trump administration to crucial branches of government now look supremely reckless. The kind of denial the president was still pushing only a week or so ago forms part of the same picture: with accidental echoes of the occasion in 2006 when Johnson paid humorous tribute to laissez-faire government by praising the fictional mayor from Jaws and his decision to keep his beaches open, Trump has recently been lampooned as the real thing, downplaying a mounting emergency, lest it threaten the economic success on which his re-election might depend.

Johnson is now at pains to be seen deferring to the chief medical officer and the governments chief scientific adviser. Boris Johnson at his 13 March press conference on coronavirus. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Woven through this take on the presidents position is a progressive article of faith: the idea that although populists might be capable rabble-rousers, they always fall down when it comes to basic competence. This, clearly, is the Democratic partys collective rationale for the anointing of Joe Biden, the walking embodiment of the idea that the best alternative to Trumps misrule is the reassuringly dull, conventional statesmanship of yesteryear.

Might such a sea-change be a realistic prospect? For a long time now, all over the world, politics and government and their surrounding discourse have increasingly amounted to a spectacle of anger, rhetoric and a supposed battle of values in which the political right particularly its latter-day, populist incarnation has usually been on the winning side. The story perhaps began with George W Bushs consigliere Karl Rove, and his characterisation of his bosss detractors as the reality-based community: its subsequent milestones include both the arrival in office of a president whose metier is outrage and provocation rather than anything material, and Brexits triumph of prejudice and romance over facts and figures.

As reality bites, something about coronavirus feels like it might at least have loosened the grip of these ideas. Whatever his outbursts, every day brings unflattering footage of Trump among scientists, officials and the representatives of big US companies and the image of an awkward, impatient man, arms folded, seemingly determined to shut out whatever wisdom might be on offer. Here, the BBCs Newsnight recently saw fit to broadcast a characteristically nuanced view of the governments response to the virus from Nigel Farage, to a loud chorus of groans. His inclusion seemed not just incongruous, but silly. And therein lay a tantalising prospect: of a political discourse that might sooner or later reconnect to the basics of government, and the real world.

And yet, and yet. Europe is still haunted by populist ghouls, predictably claiming that the virus validates everything they stand for: Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen and Hungarys Viktor Orbn, whose national security adviser recently claimed to see a certain link between coronavirus and illegal migrants.

Ten days ago, I was on a reporting job in Worksop, the former Nottinghamshire mining town in a local government district whose vote-share for Brexit was nearly 70%. The huge TV in the breakfast room was blaring out some or other piece about Covid-19, which soon caught the attention of the staff member in charge. I think this is all bollocks, he said. Youre not going to tell me it was a coincidence it started in an overpopulated country. Two fiftysomething men had just ordered their food, and instantly joined in. The first thing they can do is stop all these refugees coming in, said one. Their apparent default setting was stubborn disbelief, mixed with the conviction that this latest emergency would not have arrived had it not been for foreigners.

Reality, it seemed, had suddenly intruded on a presidency built on performance and manipulation, and Trump had instantly been found wanting. Donald Trump and his adviser at a press briefing on 14 March. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

As if clumsily leading his kindred spirits across the world to the correct position, Trump has moved through these two phases in a matter of days. Only a week or so ago, he favoured denial. Now, as evidenced by the televised address he delivered last Wednesday and his ban on flights from Europe, his embrace of drastic measures is framed by the kind of themes that won him the presidency.

His spiel contained the giveaway words America first; inside 40 seconds, he used the phrase foreign virus. By way of mood music, senior Republicans talk about the pandemic as the Chinese coronavirus or Wuhan coronavirus, and everything blurs into the ocean of conspiracy theory now swirling around online, which Trump is inevitably happy to stoke.

Whatever the controversies over its approach to the virus, and the prime ministers long record of playing to base prejudice, our own government has chosen a higher path. But hateful, ugly things are out there in the culture, and may yet rise to the surface. In stories of public service in the most awful circumstances and a rising sense that the only useful responses to this crisis are necessarily empathetic and humane, you see people and governments at their best. But whatever the impacts of the most serious health emergency in a generation, perhaps a model of politics based on division and polarisation is now so embedded that it will inevitably condition some of the worlds response. History suggests as much: steps forward always accompanied by lurches back, as humanity does what it usually does, and simply muddles through.

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

Read more:

Hashem Abedi was accused of helping to plan terror attack in which 22 died at Ariana Grande concert

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber has been found guilty of the murder of 22 people and helping to plan one of the deadliest terror attacks the UK has ever seen.

Hashem Abedi was not in court to hear the unanimous verdict after deciding earlier in the week to withdraw himself from the proceedings, sacking his entire defence team.

As each victims name was read out the jury returned a guilty verdict, with family members becoming emotional and heard crying in the courtroom.

Following the verdict, a counter-terrorism chief said the 22-year-old was driven by a sick ideology and would not have stopped his murderous activities until he was caught.

DCS Simon Barraclough, the senior investigating officer on the night of the attack, said Abedi had shown not one jot of emotion or remorse throughout the trial.

He is a man who is equally responsible as his brother for this horrendous attack, this monstrous attack. The way he has conducted himself since he landed demonstrates even more the jihadi mindset that would be supportive of the sick ideology of IS [Islamic State], he added.

The suicide bombing, the worst terror attack on UK soil since the 7/7 attacks, was detonated by Abedis older brother, Salman, and Abedi had attempted to point the finger of blame at his dead sibling.

However, it emerged that the defendant had stood shoulder to shoulder with his brother, acting as quartermaster, chauffeur and technician and sharing a common goal to kill and maim as many people as possible in the attack after an Ariana Grande concert.

Speaking after the verdict, Paul Hett, whose son Martyn, 29, was murdered in the blast, thanked police, security services and the jury for bringing Abedi to justice.

He said: This verdict will not bring back the 22 victims murdered by Salman and Hashem Abedi. Nor will it heal the wounds of the 264 people physically injured in the attack, many of whom with life-changing injuries. And this verdict will not help over 670 people who suffered psychological trauma after the attack, many still suffering today.

But what this verdict will do is give an overwhelming sense of justice to all those affected by this heinous crime.

Hashem Abedi, who was 19 at the time of the bombing, spent months working alongside his brother collecting ingredients and building prototype bombs.

Play Video

CCTV shows brother of Manchester bomber buying bomb-making ingredients video

During the six-week trial, one of the biggest terror trials ever held on UK soil, the jury were told that the brothers began showing signs of radicalisation after their parents returned to Libya, planning the attack when they were living alone in their family home in south Manchester.

Abedi, alongside his brother, acquired the ingredients precursor chemicals for the bomb by creating fictitious online accounts and using the bank details and Amazon accounts of unsuspecting friends and family.

The brothers cover story was that they needed to refill a large electric battery at the family home in Libya that was used to power a generator.

Meanwhile, Abedi, who had studied electrical installation, began collecting empty metal vegetable oil cans from a Stockport pizza takeaway he was working at under the guise that he would sell them for scrap. However, Abedi went on to use these containers to make a number of prototype improvised explosive devices.

A month before the attack, the brothers, by now having built up a stockpile of chemicals at two addresses in south Manchester, would be forced to hurriedly move the bomb-making ingredients.

On 6 April 2017, their parents, Ramadan and Samia, arrived in the UK for a brief visit and the brothers were told they would be returning to Libya on one-way tickets in a matter of days on plane tickets bought by their older sibling, Ismail.

Given their impending departure and fearing that their plans were about to be foiled, the brothers could no longer use various addresses to store the materials for their explosives.

Forty-eight hours before their departure, they made a late-night purchase of a white Nissan Micra. The car was subsequently parked at a car park near the siblings home, and they transferred chemicals and shrapnel to the car. Hours later, the pair departed for Libya with their parents.

Four days before the attack, Salman returned to Manchester alone. All Salman needed to do was collect what he needed from the Micra source some parts necessary to make the bomb viable, and find somewhere suitable both to construct it and to detonate it, said the prosecutor, Duncan Penny.

CCTV footage showed him methodically making the final preparations for the attack, carrying out a number of reconnaissance missions to the music venue, where he would eventually detonate his lethal home-made bomb.

Play Video

Footage shows brother of Manchester bomber in train station video

Minutes before the blast, according to Libyan authorities, Abedi phoned his mother and younger brother in Tripoli. The purpose of the call, according to one official, was to ask forgiveness for what he was about to do.

Stills from the night showed 22-year-old carrying a rucksack and silently watching and waiting in the City Room an assembly point for concertgoers and their families for an hour before eventually detonating his device.

The explosive packed with screws and bolts for shrapnel detonated at the exact moment when thousands of men, women and children streamed out at the end of the concert shortly after 10.30pm on 22 May 2017.

Of the 22 casualties, 19 died at the scene and three more were treated by members of the public and the emergency services but later died. Police went on to identify nearly 1,000 victims of the attack, including 28 people who were very seriously injured, 111 others who were treated in hospital and 670 who have reported psychological trauma.

The day after the bombing, Abedi was arrested in Libya alongside his father, Ramadan, who was released without charge. It would take more than two years for British diplomats to secure his extradition.

Abedi maintained he had nothing to do with making the bomb and had no inkling of his brothers radicalisation.

His fingerprints and DNA were found on a number of significant items, including pieces of metal tightly rolled into improvised cylinders and a rented flat where traces of a homemade explosive were discovered. Phone records also linked him to the atrocity.

Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester city council, said the bombing had shocked the city but that there had been a remarkable spirit of solidarity and the city stood together refusing to give in to terrorists who want to stoke hatred and division.

I hope the fact that one of those behind this callous attack has been brought to justice will provide some measure of comfort to all those affected, he said.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, of Greater Manchester police, said: Although he was in Libya at the time of the attack, Hashem Abedi is every bit as guilty as his dead brother and this is reflected in the judgment we see today.

He added: In the last few weeks Abedi absented himself from court, such was the contempt he showed for the proceedings and all those so deeply affected by this cowardly act.We are very pleased at this verdict.

Abedi will be sentenced at a later date for 22 counts of murder, one of attempted murder encompassing the injured survivors, and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.

Read more:

Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello have all appealed to their millions of followers to take coronavirus more seriously, as other artists are criticised for continuing tours

Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande are among the pop stars using their considerable clout with fans to appeal for behavioural change during the coronavirus outbreak.

Eilish delivered a five-minute Instagram story to her 57 million followers, saying: Ive seen a lot of young people out in the world, all over the place, going to the club or going to the beach or just going out and hanging out, and its really irresponsible. She highlighted that young fans could pass it to more vulnerable relatives, and added: Please take responsibility for your endurance of this.

Swift spoke to her 128.2m Instagram followers to say: I love you guys so much and need to express my concern that things arent being taken seriously enough right now Im seeing lots of get-togethers and hangs and parties still happening. This is the time to cancel plans. Dont assume that because you dont feel sick that you arent possibly passing something on to someone elderly or vulnerable to this.

On Sunday, Grande wrote to her 72m Twitter followers: I keep hearing from a surprising amount of people statements like This isnt a big deal it is incredibly selfish and dangerous to take this situation that lightly. The We will be fine because were young mindset is putting people who arent young and/or healthy in a lot of danger. You sound stupid and privileged and you need to care more about others. Like now.

Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande)


March 15, 2020

US singer Camila Cabello said: Especially as young people, even if we are healthy, its important to practice compassion and help others that could be suffering. We are in this together, lets not be indifferent to others risk. She advised her 48m Instagram followers to practise meditation to help quell any anxiety.

Their appeals come as other music stars have been criticised for going ahead with concerts during the crisis. Welsh indie band Stereophonics played a series of arena concerts over the weekend, attracting tens of thousands of fans, and defended the decision by saying: The UK governments position was that at this phase there was no need for a ban on large public gatherings. Acting on this guidance, we continued with the last three shows of our UK tour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as did many other events across the entertainment industry.

Music stars including Lewis Capaldi, pictured performing in London last week, have been criticised for going ahead with concerts. Photograph: Burak ng/Redferns

Scottish pop singer Lewis Capaldi used the same reasoning for playing an arena concert after Scotland announced the cancellation of large-scale events but before the ban came into force.

A spokesperson said of the Scottish governments advisory document: The advice applies from Monday March 16, and is not expected to have a significant impact on the spread of Covid-19, and this is not its purpose, but that it aims to relieve pressure on public services, including emergency services. Security, first aid, medical and welfare teams were paid for by the organisers as normal and the venue had additional signage in place to highlight best practice on hygiene during the event.

Tens of major tours have been cancelled, including those by Elton John, Foo Fighters and Celine Dion.

Stars are now looking to livestreaming as an alternative. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin took to Instagram Live yesterday to perform his bands songs as well as a cover of David Bowies Life on Mars. Maybe 9/11 was the last time I felt like we were all together, he said.

The performance was part of a new initiative from the World Health Organization and Global Citizen called Together, at Home. John Legend is the next performer lined up for the series.

Read more: