Why I support Andy Burnham’s call for ‘Hillsborough law’ for bereaved families

I fully support Andy Burnham’s call on the government to adopt a so-called “Hillsborough law”, that would give bereaved families the same resources as the police to make their case at future inquests.

The families of the 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough stadium disaster had to raise the money to pay for their own lawyers at the earlier inquests in 1991, while South Yorkshire police had a top legal team.

The Shadow Home Secretary, who campaigned on behalf of the families over many years, has tabled an amendment to the policing and crime bill, to be debated in the House of Commons, aimed at helping families in similar situations in future by granting them legal aid equal to the cost of police spending on lawyers. “The 27-year struggle of the Hillsborough families exposes how the odds are all too frequently stacked against ordinary families seeking truth and justice,” he said. “Never again should any bereaved families have to fight like the Hillsborough families have had to fight.”  Burnham plans to force a vote on the law.

There are no more difficult circumstances to cope with than the Inquest into the deaths of a loved one.  Families are left to cope on their own and attempt to ask relevant questions when in a bereaved state. How can families in these circumstances question the might of corporations? This in balance of justice has been allowed to continue for too long and is solely down to penny pinching at the expense of the bereaved.

This is false economy, lawyers acting for the bereaved would drive the case forward, obtaining disclosure of relevant documents and information at an early stage, reducing the length of years these matters are now taking. Knowing the truth brings closure for the families at an early stage no matter how painful.

Hilary Meredith