Rebalancing the scales: ‘Hillsborough Law’

The Government has received renewed calls for a Hillsborough Law supported by two ex-prime ministers, Gordon Brown and Theresa May. The ‘Hillsborough Law Now’ campaign was unveiled by Labour mayors, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram following the ITV drama production, Anne, a four-part series depicting Anne Williams’ decade long battle to uncover the truth about the death of her son, Kevin at the Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989.

As Andy Burnham explains on Labour List, a Hillsborough Law would build on the growing public awareness of the way bereaved families are treated by the system and the need for change.

According to him, the Hillsborough Law would be based on four key pillars and should be brought forward with cross-party support, including that of the Government and full parliamentary time allocated for debate.

He set out the four key pillars as follows:

  • “A Charter for Families Bereaved Through Public Tragedy legally binding on all public bodies.
  • A statutory duty of candour on public servants during all forms of public inquiry and criminal investigation.
  • Proper participation of bereaved families at inquests, through publicly funded legal representation and an end to near limitless legal spending by public bodies.
  • A Public Advocate to act for families of the deceased after major incidents, as Maria Eagle is rightly arguing.”

As from 12 January 2022, bereaved families at inquests will be able to apply for legal representation through exceptional case funding without going through a means assessment. This was a key issue for the Hillsborough bereaved who had no access to legal funding.

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