A SENIOR fire officer has apologised for the "woeful" response to the Manchester Arena bombing as crews took more than two hours to attend the scene.

David Keelan, assistant county fire officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: "I wanted to say to those who have lost loved ones, to all those who were injured and to those that were affected ... I apologise for our woeful and unacceptable response to that incident.

"We let you down when you needed us the most."

On Wednesday, Mr Keelan told the public inquiry into the May 2017 terror attack that he had been off duty when he returned home from dinner and saw events unfolding on the television news.

After several phone calls and messages with colleagues, he then went to bed - but not to sleep, he said.

Mr Keelan said he was aware that, "in essence" only, the chief fire officer, Peter O'Reilly, was on rota in a leadership role.

He told the hearing: "I knew at some point, either throughout that evening or into the early hours of the next day, I would have to take over the strategic responsibility for the organisation so I needed to make sure I was in a capable manner to do so.

"I didn't sleep, I rested. But I was occupied and conscious with other things at the time."

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked: "So, insofar as any criticism has been levelled at you through other witnesses for the fact that you took some rest, that is a criticism that you would wholeheartedly reject?"

Mr Keelan replied: "Yes, sir. I needed to be ready for what I might I have to do later on that morning."