THE Government has responded to an independent review of the experiences of Hillsborough families. They have announced some progress and further commitments on the recommendations made in 2017, but INQUEST, a charity which provides expertise on state related deaths and their investigation, does not believe these go far enough.

Six years ago, in November 2017, the landmark review The patronising disposition of unaccountable power: A report to ensure the pain and suffering of the Hillsborough families is not repeated was published. The author, the Right R James Jones, a former Bishop of Liverpool and chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, made strong recommendations on the response of public bodies to state related deaths, and the involvement of bereaved families in these processes.

INQUEST made a submission to the review and organised a family listening day where bereaved people discussed their experiences following deaths of relatives in contact with the police, in prisons and in mental health and learning disability settings. Many of the concerns raised by INQUEST and the families were reflected in the recommendations.

After significant delays in responding, the long awaited Government response to this review has now been published.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “The systems for responding to deaths must be fair and enable accountability and systemic change to prevent future deaths. Bishop James Jones’ landmark review exposed how the interests of powerful institutions and individuals prevail over bereaved people, seeking to find the truth about how their relative died.

“The failure of the Government to extend the duty of candour to all public authorities and end the inequality of arms is a betrayal and insult to Hillsborough families and all they have fought for over more than three decades.

“Only the enactment of Hillsborough Law will ensure there is no hiding place for official wrongdoing or failure and address the power imbalance at inquests. It will prevent cover-ups and enable swifter, fairer justice. At the crux of this is the democratic accountability of public authorities at an individual and corporate level.”

* Read the Government’s response here.

* More information here.

* Source: INQUEST