In praise of: the Hillsborough Law
The fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 football supporters at Hillsborough stadium in 1989, which concluded in April 2016, were a testament to the 27-year fight by the bereaved families and those who campaigned with them, finally bringing some measure of justice after the shocking institutional cover-up that followed the tragedy.
In any inquest, however, uncovering the truth is only part of the story. Bereaved families want meaningful and lasting change. The Hillsborough inquests showed that, while football and the policing of public events might have changed significantly since 1989, the behaviour of certain public authorities and individuals acting as public servants has not. Too often, they try to shift responsibility and cover up faults. This adds immeasurably to the suffering of bereaved families, and often unnecessarily increases the time and costs of inquests.
The Public Authority (Accountability) Bill 2017 – the Hillsborough Law – introduced into parliament on 29 March 2017 by Andy Burnham, would make it a legal duty for public institutions to tell the truth in proceedings, investigations and inquiries, and to act with candour and frankness. Officials would be fined or imprisoned for failing to do so, or for feeding misleading information to the media.
If it is to mark a moment of real change, fundamentally rebalancing the legal system to put more power in the hands of ordinary people, the Hillsborough Law needs all the support it can get. For further information, visit:

About the author(s)

Description: Tom Stoate - author
Tom Stoate is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, London.