Ahead of the former Bishop of Liverpool has publishing his report into the experiences of Hillsborough families, to be published on Wednesday 01 November 2017, I have called on the Government to support the ‘Hillsborough Law’ (The Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill 2017). This is to ensure that families are no longer victims of cover-ups.
The Bill codifies duties on public authorities and officials, private entities that are public-facing such as owners of sports stadia, shopping centres or social housing, to act in the public interest and with candour.
If enacted, the law would require that officials would have to come clean about wrongdoings and failures and cooperate proactively with investigations, inquiries and inquests. The draft law provides victims and their families with a legal ‘toolbox’ to enforce such transparency, and new criminal offences would apply to senior managers who have wilfully failed to comply or covered up institutional and individual failures. The law requires institutions to have ethical policies and it would empower ordinary officials to require their organisations and managers to be transparent. The second part of the Bill provides for parity of provision for victims with the public authorities involved in the inquests and inquiries.
The Bill was presented to Parliament on 29 March 2017 for its first reading and passed without opposition and with cross-party support. There now needs to be outright Government acceptance of the Bill to ensure that it is given enough time for its passage.
The cover-up that was Hillsborough caused tremendous damage to families and it is only right that a law is put in place to stop this horrendous injustice from ever happening again. The families of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster have now spent 28 years fighting for justice and I am determined that we honour them and their lost loved ones by making the Hillsborough Law a reality.
There are still some in positions of authority who immediately shutdown and close themselves off from an investigation. They deliberately try to obfuscate truth from the public in the hope of protecting themselves or their organisation. We only have to look at the devastating Grenfell Tower fire to see why this law is needed.
The Government now have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. To be there for the families of Hillsborough and to be a government who understands that we never again should allow cover-ups to happen.