Liverpool Echo vows support for Hillsborough Law

The Liverpool Echo has vowed to support campaigners demanding a Hillsborough Law — more than 30 years after the football stadium disaster which claimed the lives of 97 Liverpool fans.

The Echo cleared its front page on Friday to back calls for the new Law, which would help prevent future injustice. The decades-long campaign for justice for those who died at Hillsborough in 1989 was brought into the spotlight nationally once again last week with the airing of Anne.

The poignant drama series showcased the efforts of Formby mum Anne Williams as she fought for justice for her son Kevin, who was among those who died following the terrace crush at the Sheffield stadium.

The campaign calls for a package of measures, including:

  • A statutory duty of candour on public servants, including police officers, which applies 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 limitless legal spending by public bodies
  • A Public Advocate to act for families of the deceased after major incidents
  • A clarification in law that major inquiries commissioned by the Government or other official bodies constitute “courses of public justice”

The Echo has stood alongside families of those who died in their campaign for justice since 1989. It took more than 20 years for the flawed ‘accidental death’ verdicts of the original inquests to be quashed.

In 2016, inquests into the deaths of the 96 fans on the terraces at Hillsborough during Liverpool’s 1989 FA Cup Semi Final game against Nottingham Forest, declared the fans were unlawfully killed — and that Liverpool fans played no role in causing the disaster.

However, no-one has been held accountable for their deaths.

Launching the bid for a new Hillsborough Law the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “What happened at Hillsborough in 1989 and the cover-up that followed is a national disgrace.

“It is a testament to the courage and determination of the families and campaigners that the truth was finally uncovered after decades of battling against the might of the state.”

Liverpool Echo editor Maria Breslin said: “ITV’s powerful drama Anne reduced millions of viewers to tears as it depicted the disgraceful obstacles faced by the battling mum and other Hillsborough families in their relentless pursuit of justice.

“There were tears of heartbreak — but also tears of anger and frustration — as we saw those who lost loved ones at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final thwarted at every turn by cover-ups and the power of the establishment.

“And, while nothing can ever right those terrible wrongs, the introduction of a law ensuring other families never suffer the same ordeal is something worth fighting for and a fitting legacy for the survivors and bereaved relatives who campaigned for the truth.

“A Hillsborough Law, would go some way to making sure we never see such a devastating failure of British justice again — 97 men, women and children unlawfully killed and, in the eyes of the law, no-one accountable.

“A similar law was introduced to the Commons by former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham in 2017 but failed to progress.

“Today we say to the Government, it’s time to think again — to take positive action to prove the aftermath of Hillsborough could never conceivably happen in 2022 Britain.

“The law demands public officials, including police officers, have a legal duty to be honest and also ensures bereaved families can properly participate in inquests and inquiries through publicly-funded legal representation as well as bringing an end to limitless legal spending by public bodies.

“The fact we need such a law underlines the horrific ordeal suffered by families and survivors in the wake of Hillsborough. It simply can never happen again. So please join us in campaigning for the Hillsborough Law and, in doing so, we salute the dignity, perseverance, honesty and sheer determination of ordinary people like Anne forced to do extraordinary things in the pursuit of the truth.”

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