Granada Debate: Hillsborough report described as an 'insult' to families after six-year wait

  • Catch-up on ITV Granada's monthly political programme - The Granada Debate

The government response to a report into the Hillsborough disaster has been "perceived as quite insulting" by families and those involved, an MP has claimed.

Labour MP for West Lancashire, Ashley Dalton, said the wait by those caught up in the disaster had been "too long".

Speaking on the monthly political programme Granada Debate, she said: "The government had an opportunity to actually deliver some justice for those people.

"The government's taken six years to respond to this report, but these families have been waiting longer than 30 years."

Bereaved families of the Hillsborough tragedy have described the report as an 'insult', calling on government to 'do something meaningful'.

On Wednesday 6 December, the government signed up to a Hillsborough Charter, pledging to place the public interest above its own reputation, claiming a 'Hillsborough Law' incorporating a legal duty of candour was not necessary.

Conservative MP for Bury North, James Daly, said: "I certainly don't think it's an insult, and it's certainly not meant to be an insult.

"I'm very pleased that the government apologised for the amount of time it took to respond to Bishop James Jones' report, that clearly wasn't acceptable."

The government reiterated its support for a duty of candour on police forces, legally requiring officers to cooperate during official investigations and inquiries following major incidents.

But unlike the Hillsborough Law, created by families and backed by the Labour Party, the duty only covers police forces, and not other public authorities such as councils, social services or fire and ambulance services.

Campaigners claim having a duty of candour without any legislation is 'meaningless'.

Mr Daly said: "I can understand that point of view, and I think it is a very valid point of view.

"It's very sad that we have to get to the point where people who've been through this have to ask the government to legislate for state bodies to tell the truth, and that really is an appalling situation just in general."

Ms Dalton continued: "Most ordinary people are astonished that actually our public services don't automatically have that, and we've had to fight to get that for so long.

"The very idea that we've got to put it into law is really difficult to take on board, but the fact of the matter is we've had too many examples to show that we do need that legislating for, and I'd like to see a Hillsborough law."

The Hillsborough memorial at Anfield.

Other topics discussed included the evidence given by Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram at the Covid Inquiry, debating the government's attitude towards the North West.

Ashley Dalton MP said: "Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram were really having to fight tooth and nail to get the most basic information out of the government, and you know nine times out of ten weren't able to get it, they were left in the dark."

"It's really you know speaks volumes in terms of the level of contempt that the government then was was willing to treat the north with, it was appalling."

However, Mr Daly said he 'shocked' Andy Burnham 'tries to politicise anything'.

He said: "My recollection of those meetings during this period was not only was he supported a grade three restrictions, he was absolutely highly supportive of the most restricted measure.

"Now he may well have had good reason for that at this particular time but trying to create this impression, this is what he does all the time, everything is about politics."

Ms Dalton defended Mr Burnham saying: "What I saw happening, certainly in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool city region, was the mayors of those places actually standing up and supporting and reassuring local people".

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram both gave evidence to the Covid Inquiry. Credit: PA Images

The final topic debated was around Lancashire's devolution deal.

Devolution is the transfer of power from central government in Westminster to different regions, giving politicians in those areas more decision-making responsibility and funding.

The new combined authority will have at least one representative from Lancashire County Council and the two top-tier authorities in Blackburn and Blackpool.

  • Andrew Misra reports on Lancashire's devolution deal

Ms Dalton said: "It's a bit devo-light, frankly. There are good things to it and there are good things that could be made from it, but it doesn't go anywhere near far enough in terms of the investment and the powers that would be given to the combined authority."

However she added that not all districts are being represented.

She said: "There's twelve districts, only two of those districts will have a seat at the table, but they won't actually have a vote."

"So it is a concern that only Lancashire County Council and the two unitries are getting a say in it."

Meanwhile, Mr Daly would not comment on what the deal could mean for Lancashire, he said his experience of devolution in Greater Manchester is "disastrous".

He said: "I have very little positive to say about the experiment of devolution in Greater Manchester.

"I think sometimes devolution is hope over expectation - that if you bring decisions closer to people that they will somehow be better - that is not happening in my area."

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