Former Bishop of Liverpool criticises 'intolerable' lack of progress on his Hillsborough report

Right Rev James Jones
The Right Reverend James Jones

The former Bishop of Liverpool has held a series of meetings with the families of Hillsborough victims to discuss what he describes as the 'intolerable' lack of progress on his report.

Right Reverend James Jones, bishop of the city between 1998 and 2013, published a report six years ago into the experiences of the families of those who died at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989, but there has not yet been a full Government response.

Since then only two of his 25 recommendations have been implemented.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed plans to establish an independent public advocate (IPA) to support those affected by major disasters earlier this month, a move which was welcomed by Mr Jones in his report.

Mr Raab has also told the House of Commons the Government would be responding to the wider report this spring.

An independent pathology review into the issues following the disaster - one of the recommendations made by Mr Jones - is due to be carried out by the Home Office.

The victims of Hillsborough.

97 people died as a result of the crush at an FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

Now campaigners are calling for a "Hillsborough Law", or Public Authority (Accountability) Bill.

This would create a legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively co-operate with official investigations and inquiries.

The former bishop has held a series of meetings with families in Liverpool to update them on progress on his report.

He is understood to have pledged his support for a Hillsborough Law and introduced families to a forensic science expert, Glenn Taylor, who will be conducting the independent pathology review.

Steve Kelly, whose brother Mike was one of the 97 Liverpool fans who died as a result of Hillsborough, said: "This has been a 34-year fight and during that time we have lost family members who never got to hear the new inquest verdicts so were denied justice and accountability.

"This required change in the law to avoid our torment being repeated is surely the very least we are owed.

"A true Hillsborough Law, I believe, has to be independent of government interference and carried out in consultation, every step of the way, with the people who matter: families and survivors."

Elkan Abrahamson, solicitor at Broudie Jackson Canter, which hosted the meetings, and director of Hillsborough Law Now, said: "We were pleased to hear from the former bishop.

"The only solution to government cover-ups is to enact a statutory duty of candour. Hillsborough Law Now has been set up to push for this and we welcome the former bishop's support."