The Hillsborough tragedy has come to a most unedifying conclusion some 32 years after the event.
The guardian recently reported that it highlights inadequacies in the legal system.
Separate inquests and trials and the lack of legal synchronicity between the two shames the English legal system. Findings at different inquests and specifically the longest inquest in English legal history have not been rightfully utilized in the respective legal trials.
The culture of protection of public servants at any cost and the antiquated mechanisms of pursuing those at fault must be addressed. It has become an unequal and traumatic experience for any families involved.
The so called ‘scales of justice’ are tilted firmly against them. It has become the ‘norm’ rather than the exception to find a battery of highly paid and highly experienced QCs representing the state and a ‘fluidity’ with the truth that is both disrespectful and deliberately obstructive.
By contrast Margaret Aspinall courageously recently spoke about how she had had to use the cheque she was given as ‘compensation’ for the loss of her son James to fund her contribution to the families’ legal costs and in addition borrowed money from her parents to make up the difference. At every step of the way the ‘defence’ has received unlimited financial resources and is not bound by a duty of candour.
In layman’s terms the public sector can pay for whoever it likes for as long as it likes and the witnesses if they are civil servants are not obliged to be honest. This is not justice this is a mockery and profoundly insulting to the affected private parties.
The Prime Minister has been unrelenting in his wish to follow a policy of ‘levelling up’: he would be well advised to focus on the current state of the legal system and not just the inherent geographical disparities that abound in England.
Andy Burnham the Mayor of Manchester has lobbied hard with his expanded version of the Hillsborough Law – it has a twin purpose, parity of legal funding for bereaved families and a ‘duty of candour’ from public officials. It has recently been resubmitted to Parliament in its expanded form and represents a welcome step to an overdue overhaul of our legal system.
Our legal system is not fit for purpose: it enables the shifting of blame and actively promotes a lack of accountability. Hillsborough must be seen as an opportunity for positive change and not the retention of the status quo.