Campaigners call for Hillsborough law to “level the scales of justice” | Hillsborough disaster

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Calls for a ‘Hillsborough law’ to rebalance the UK justice system and ensure fairer treatment for bereaved families will be made in a high-profile event on Friday.

The Hillsborough Law Now summit will be co-hosted by the Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, and will have speakers including representatives from families bereaved by past and present tragedies.

It was programmed to capitalize on the additional awareness of the problem, which was rekindled by the powerful ITV drama Anne which tells the story of Anne Williams’ fight for justice for her teenage son Kevin. Actor Maxine Peake, who played Williams, is expected at the event, which will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Campaigners are calling for action recommended in a 2017 report by Bishop James Jones.

The report contained 25 recommendations, including a charter for families bereaved by public tragedy; a legal duty of franchise for all police officers; “Appropriate participation” of bereaved families in inquiries; and a public defender of the families of those who died after major incidents.

The campaign says the failed Hillsborough-related criminal trials have identified new areas that also need to be addressed and enshrined in law.

Burnham said that “the appalling treatment of the Hillsborough families at the hands of the legal system puts our nation to shame.”

But he said it wasn’t unique. “From Peterloo 200 years ago to Grenfell today, ordinary bereaved families continue to be treated cruel and contemptuously by a justice system that favors the powerful and the connected. It is a pattern that keeps repeating itself and it is time to break it.

“We must level the scales of justice in favor of bereaved families so that the truth is established on the first request. We must spare families the secondary trauma that is often inflicted by the cruel treatment inflicted by the system. “

Rotheram said: “What happened in Hillsborough in 1989 and the cover-up that followed is a national disgrace. It is a testament to the courage and determination of families and activists that the truth was finally uncovered after decades of struggling against state power. It cannot happen again.

“Hillsborough’s story is not an outlier. There are countless other injustices that follow the same pattern. It is time to break this cycle and put integrity back at the heart of our justice system. “

Ninety-five men, women and children died immediately or very shortly after being trapped in the crush in the central “enclosures” on Leppings Lane Terrace during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Ground in Sheffield Wednesday April 15, 1989.

New investigations, which ended in 2016, revealed that the victims were unlawfully killed. Match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of manslaughter by gross negligence in 2019 and a trial of retired police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster and former force attorney Peter Metcalf, accused of having hijacked the course of justice, collapsed last year after a judge ruled there were no cases to answer.

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