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Hillsborough report urges change of attitude

Hillsborough report urges change of attitude

Ninety-six fans died as a result of a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's ground
The "burning injustice" felt by those affected by public disasters must end, a report on the experiences of the Hillsborough families has found.Bishop James Jones said "a change in attitude" was needed to ensure their "pain and suffering" was not repeated.He called for a charter for bereaved families, the right to publicly-funded legal representation, and a "duty of candour" for police officers.The bishop also praised the families' "exceptional" tenacity over 28 years.The report was commissioned by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary after verdicts of unlawful killing were returned in the second Hillsborough inquests last year.
The 96 Liverpool fans died at an FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.
Rt Rev James Jones submitted his report to the government in June
Bishop Jones said: "What is needed is a change in attitude, culture, heart and mind."To bring this about, I first ask that those in positions of leadership listen seriously to the experiences of the Hillsborough families described in this report.The former Bishop of Liverpool set out 25 "essential" learning points in his report, titled The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power, and called for three crucial ones:
A charter for families bereaved by public tragedy
Proper participation of bereaved families at inquests
The creation of a "duty of candour" for police officers
He said: "The experience of the Hillsborough families demonstrates the need for a substantial change in the culture of public bodies." He added: "I suggest that the way in which families bereaved through public tragedy are treated by those in authority is in itself a burning injustice which must be addressed."
Bishop James Jones wrote the report after inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at a 1989 FA Cup match
Bishop Jones proposed that public bodies sign up to a Charter for Families Bereaved Through Public Tragedy compelling them to approach public inquiries and inquests in an "open, honest and transparent way".He called for a "duty of candour" which would require police officers, serving or retired, to cooperate fully with investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission or its successor.The Bishop said the response of South Yorkshire Police to criticism over Hillsborough showed "institutional defensiveness" and recommended training for senior police officers to ensure an "open and transparent approach" to inquiries.The report said the first inquests failed to accurately establish how the 96 came about their deaths, and families were unable to successfully challenge their "flawed basis" because their legal representation was inadequate.
The Hillsborough victims' families campaigned for 27 years for justice
In the report, Bishop Jones praised the "bravery and tenacity" of the Hillsborough families."But the fact that this level of resolve and persistence was necessary demonstrates a systemic failure of the processes that should work to bring about accountability and justice," he said.He called for a change to procedures, as well as publicly-funded legal representation for families at inquests which public bodies were represented at, as well as an end to authorities "spending limitless sums" on representation.The Bishop supported the introduction of a "Hillsborough Law", which has been called for by families and would make it a criminal offence for public officials to cover up wrongdoing.
Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall welcomed the report
Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the disaster, said she was "very, very pleased" with the report.She added: "No family deserves to go through [what we went through]. It was torture, it is still torture really. It is important the lessons are learned."Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "I am grateful to Bishop James Jones for undertaking this important piece of work. His thoughtful and considered report raises important points."The government will now carefully study the 25 points of learning and we will provide a full response in due course."
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