Labour would put new Hillsborough Law on statute book, says Starmer

Labour has pledged that in government it would introduce such a duty to provide transparency and accountability. Credit: PA Images

Labour says it will put a new Hillsborough Law on to the statute book to help prevent future injustices where there is state involvement.

The announcement will be made at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool starting this weekend.

Families of those who lost their lives in Britain’s worst sporting disaster, and survivors, are campaigning for key changes to the legal system to prevent others going through what they experienced over decades.

Ninety-seven men, women and children died in the tragedy at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield on 15 April 1989.

A Hillsborough Law would introduce a statutory duty of candour on public servants during all forms of public inquiry and criminal investigation.

Tributes left at Anfield Credit: PA

Labour has pledged that in government it would introduce such a duty to provide transparency and accountability.

The legislation would also put victims of disasters or state-related deaths on a level playing field with public bodies, as they are funded for lawyers via legal aid.

An independent public advocate would be appointed for bereaved families to act in their best interests, and establish a panel to review all the evidence, documentation, and data relating to a tragedy.

The new law, under Labour plans, would also require all public authorities to publish a code of ethics that promotes ethical behaviour, transparency, and candour.

Andrew Devine passed away in July 2021, 32 years after being injured in the Hillsborough disaster.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Labour stands unequivocally with the Hillsborough families. We’ve repeatedly called for the Hillsborough Law and making it reality would be a priority of my Labour government.

“As director of public prosecutions, I spoke with the Hillsborough families before the (Hillsborough) independent panel would decide whether criminal trials or an inquest should come first.

“Their raw pain was matched by their inspirational courage. Nobody should ever have to endure what they’ve been through.

“In July this year I visited the Hillsborough memorial and met with campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose son James was amongst the victims of the tragedy.

“For Margaret, for James, and the 96 other lives tragically lost, we will change the law to stop this happening again.”

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

In January former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Theresa May backed calls for a Hillsborough Law.

They were joined by Mrs Aspinall, who said the “scales of justice are unbalanced” and the 97 who died “deserve the respect and a Hillsborough Law in honour of their name”.

Steve Kelly, who lost his brother Michael in the tragedy, said: “A Hillsborough Law will allow ordinary people the same opportunity for legal representation from the beginning.

“I never want to see anybody go through this ever again, especially without support from the outset.”

Former Labour PM Mr Brown ordered the creation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which in 2012 revealed police failings and eventually led to the quashing of the accidental death verdicts in 1991 from the first inquests.

New inquests which concluded in 2016 found the Hillsborough victims were unlawfully killed.

In 2019 Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter, while a trial of two retired police officers and a former force solicitor, who were accused of perverting the course of justice, collapsed in 2021 after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.