Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner joins calls for Hillsborough Law Now

Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell has joined calls for a Hillsborough Law Now. Credit: PA

Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner has come together with the seven other Labour Police and Crime Commissioners, the West Yorkshire Mayor and the three Deputy Mayors for Policing across England and Wales to join the call for a Hillsborough Law Now.

The aim of the law is to "break the cycle" of injustice for bereaved families. Campaigners are calling for a change to the justice system to prevent others going through what the Hillsborough families experienced.

It is hoped a Hillsborough Law could help bereaved families and survivors in other disaster situations involving public bodies, such as the Grenfell Tower inquiry, and the inquiries into the Manchester Arena attack and the Government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said in a joint statement with the other 12 politicians that they support the calls from the Metro Mayors for Greater Manchester and Merseyside, as well as many other high-profile figures from all walks of all life and all parties, for a 'Hillsborough Law'.

The statement goes on: "What happened at Hillsborough in April 1989 was utterly devastating. The cover up that followed was a national disgrace.

"It is only because of the unwavering determination, perseverance and strength of the families and campaigners over a staggering 33 years that the truth was finally uncovered.

"Sadly, there are far too many examples of decent people who have suffered unimaginable heartache having to fight far too long, and far too hard, against the might of the state to get the justice they deserve.

Andrew Devine's name has been added to the memorial at Anfield. Credit: LFC

"People who have already suffered deeply, being re-traumatised as they struggle against the very system which should be there to protect them. Change is long overdue. Action to improve the system of support for families bereaved as a result of a public disaster is needed now. A Hillsborough Law would introduce a package of measures which we believe will help to rebalance the scales of justice. It would ensure bereaved families are treated in a fairer, more just way, and help to prevent them from experiencing the same suffering and torment as those affected by Hillsborough and so many other disasters.

"It would give bereaved families a greater role to have their say at inquests, through publicly-funded legal representation, while bringing to an end limitless legal spending by public bodies seeking to cover up or defend wrong-doing.

"Such a move would ensure those families have someone on their side; to help them to get information they need, to navigate the complexities of the legal system, and ensure they are assisted every step of the way to get the justice they deserve.

"No-one should ever have to suffer the same pain and torment as that experienced by the Hillsborough families. No-one should be denied the truth, year after year. No-one should ever again be let down so badly by the system.

"We must ensure it is never repeated."

The basis of the law is based on the review of the experiences of the Hillsborough families by former Bishop of Liverpool the Right Reverend James Jones - called ‘The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power’.

The report, published in 2017, triggered the new inquests, and detailed 25 recommendations to reform the system, including a duty of candour for all police officers and publicly-funded legal representation for families at inquests.

The Right Reverend James Jones said: "For bereaved families to come to a contested inquest. Legally defenseless is manifestly unjust, and I hope that the government, in its response to the report, will recognize that this present situation is an affront to natural justice."