LONDON (Reuters) – The government pledged on Wednesday there would be no repeat of the years of injustice suffered by families of the 97 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough soccer ground crush, Britain’s worst stadium disaster.
The Liverpool fans, many of them young, died in an overcrowded, fenced-in enclosure at Hillsborough in Sheffield, northern England, at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on a sunny spring afternoon.
For years, families of those who were killed campaigned for justice, refusing to accept the deaths were accidental after the police initially blamed the tragedy on the supporters themselves.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron apologised in 2012 and an inquest in 2016 concluded the fans were unlawfully killed and that police were to blame, had told lies and staged a cover-up of “industrial proportions” to hide their mistakes.
The following year a government-commissioned report by James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, called for a charter for bereaved families to be created to prevent those affected by a major public disaster having to go through the same experiences.
On Wednesday, the government finally issued its response to that review, saying it had now signed the “Hillsborough Charter”.
“The Hillsborough families have suffered multiple injustices and more than thirty-four years later, there can never be too many apologies for what they have been through,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
“And I want to repeat that apology today, and thank the Hillsborough families for their tenacity, patience and courage.”
The new charter will ensure better support for bereaved families in disasters. By doing so, the government said it also “reaffirmed its commitment to a culture of honesty and transparency in public service” and said a duty of candour for the police would be required by law.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Sarah Young)