Newsletters Criminal Regulatory 6th Nov 2017

Bishop’s Review of Hillsborough Families’ Experiences Calls for Change Including Publicly Funded Legal Representation for Bereaved Families at Inquests

Last week, Bishop James Jones, published his review of the Hillsborough families’ experiences in their search for truth and justice entitled: ‘The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power’. His review was commissioned by Theresa May whilst she was Home Secretary following the conclusion of the fresh Hillsborough inquests.

In the review, he urges the Government to help ensure that those responsible for national institutions listen to what the experiences of the Hillsborough families say about how they should conduct themselves when faced by families bereaved by public tragedy.

Whilst Bishop Jones identifies 25 points of learning he cites the ‘proper participation’ of bereaved families at inquests as a pressing need and identifies four strands to this:

  1. Publicly funded legal representation for bereaved families at inquests at which public bodies are legally represented.
  2. An end to public bodies spending limitless sums providing themselves with representation which surpasses that available to families.
  3. A change to the way in which public bodies approach inquests, so that they treat them not as a reputational threat, but as an opportunity to learn and as part of their obligations to those who have died and to their family.
  4. Changes to inquest procedures and to the training of coroners, so that bereaved families are truly placed at the centre of the process.

This powerful and important review adds yet another urgent voice to the call for changes to the Ministry of Justice’s Lord Chancellor’s Exceptional Funding Guidance (Inquests) to allow legal aid for bereaved families at inquests at which a public body is to be legally represented.

A copy of Bishop Jones’ full report can be found here

Alex Tampakopoulos

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