Government accused of repeatedly blocking Hillsborough’s public defender law

The government was accused of repeatedly blocking a bill intended to introduce a public defender for families like those who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster.

The Ombudsman Bill (No. 2) would introduce an independent representative for bereaved and survivors of disasters involving public authorities.

But the bill was effectively denied a second reading at the end of the House of Commons session on Friday, a day when second-tier MPs conventionally have the opportunity to make laws outside of the government’s legislative agenda.

Following the objection, former Labor minister Maria Eagle questioned whether ministers cared “righting the terrible wrongs” of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The Garston and Halewood MP told the House of Commons: “We have seen five bills today. The Public Defender Bill (#2) has been repeatedly introduced in Parliament since 2015.

Maria Eagle said it was the 12th time the bill had been blocked (PA)

“Today’s government objection is the twelfth time they have objected in the last two years, despite the fact that the proposal for a public defender is in the government’s own 2017 manifesto.

“Can you please advise me on how I can convince my constituents, who are families of the 97 unlawfully murdered and survivors of that terrible day in Hillsborough, that our government cares about righting the terrible wrongs they have suffered in the last 34 years, and making sure that the lessons of that terrible day are truly learned?

The Vice-President of the House of Commons, Sir Roger Gale, responded that the whole House had “enormous sympathy for those who suffered at Hillsborough” but told Mrs Eagle that she could not use a point of order to prolong the discuss your bill.

Speaking outside the Commons, Ms Eagle later added: “After 34 years of waiting, Hillsborough families now need legislative change to ensure no other family afflicted by public disasters is treated as they have been by public disaster agencies. states that cover up the truth.

“This bill is part of the change they have called for, but it has been blocked for the twelfth time by the government objecting to it when it could have let it proceed.

“I will not stop fighting for them and these measures, and I will bring the bills back in March so we can bring justice for these brave families.”

Police chiefs this week promised a “culture change” and apologized to the families of the Hillsborough victims in an official response to a report by the Rt Revd James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool, about the experiences of the Hillsborough families. .

Ninety-seven football fans died as a result of being crushed in a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.

They were unlawfully killed amid a series of police missteps, a grand jury ruled in 2016.

Steve Reed MP, Shadow Law Clerk, added: “Workers unequivocally support Hillsborough families. There can be no justice for those who died until we prevent the same thing from happening again.

“We have repeatedly called for the Hillsborough Act and making it a reality would be a priority for a Labor government to ensure that victims of major tragedies get the same legal representation as the authorities who failed them.”

The bill will be debated again on March 3, but will sit at the bottom of the agenda document, meaning MPs are likely to run out of time to consider it.

Labor MP Luke Pollard’s attempt to reform the gun laws was also blocked at a second reading.

The firearms and hate crime bill by Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP was aimed at preventing attacks similar to the 2021 Keyham shooting, when gunman Jake Davison killed five people.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, criticized the government for blocking her bill aimed at ending all prepaid meter installations over the winter.

Ms Hobhouse said: “This bill has been before Parliament since the beginning of December, but the Conservative government chose to ignore it. Only after a scandal and shocking revelations about energy companies meddling with vulnerable people did the regulator, Ofgem, finally act.

“It is too little, too late. My bill would go further than the regulator by banning the installation of prepaid meters for a period of time to help people get through this difficult winter and investigate any dishonest practices.”

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