16 March 2023

Hillsborough families meet former bishop to discuss new duty of candour law

16 March 2023

Families of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster have met with the former bishop of Liverpool to discuss a new law which would avoid “torment” for other bereaved relatives.

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.

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

An independent pathology review into the issues following the disaster – one of 25 recommendations made by Mr Jones – is due to be carried out by the Home Office.

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

Campaigners are calling for a “Hillsborough Law”, or Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, which 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.

This week, the former bishop held a series of meetings with families in Liverpool, where 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 at 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.”

Earlier this month, Mr Raab told the House of Commons the Government would be responding to the wider report this spring.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox