In 2012, the Lord Chief Justice found that the 96 who died in the tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989 were “helpless victim[s]”. The Chief Superintendent of the South Yorkshire Police apologised to the families for blaming the tragedy on their loved ones and for defaming them as “tanked-up yobs”. But during the Hillsborough inquests, lawyers for the South Yorkshire Police and former senior police officers argued forcefully that the victims were at least partially responsible for their own deaths because they were drunk, abusive and non-compliant. On 26 April 2016, families of the 96 victims finally received justice, after enduring 27 years of defamation and scorn from most of the political establishment and the media.
Other large public bodies have similar problems. Incidents such as those explored in the Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry led to the introduction of a ‘duty of candour’ regulation across the NHS in 2014.
In order to avoid tragedies like these, members of the Hillsborough Legal Teams including Pete Weatherby QC, Elkan Abrahamson and others have drafted a Bill to be presented to Parliament that would require public bodies to tell the truth and to protect whistleblowers. The proposed ‘Hillsborough Law’ is aimed at preventing this kind of institutional defensiveness and culture of denial in public bodies. From the Explanatory Note:
“The Hillsborough Law aims to ensure that public authorities and public servants tell the truth and act with candour, especially with respect to court proceedings, inquiries and investigations. This will help public institutions and further the public interest by contributing to the creation of a culture of integrity and openness, rather than institutional defensiveness.”
This symposium, co-sponsored by the Liverpool Law School and Broudie Jackson Canter, will bring together academics, lawyers, campaigners and whistleblowers to consider whether the Bill can achieve the aims set out in the Explanatory Note, how it can be improved, and what other approaches may contribute to preventing another tragedy. The symposium will consider how the NHS has imposed a regulatory requirements of ‘candour’ and whistleblower protection and whether statutory or regulatory regimes are the most effective approach to challenging institutional defensiveness. The Bill’s drafters will consider the feedback from the symposium participants in order to develop and improve the Bill in preparation for presentation to Parliament.
There will be at least three workshops that will, respectively, consider: the Bill itself; the success or failure of the ‘duty of candour’ in the NHS context (ie Regulation 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 and the imposition of a similar duty into the NHS Standard Contract 2014/2015); and police/public body accountability more generally.
Confirmed Speakers Include
- Deborah Coles, Inquest
- Alan Yates, formerly Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
- Dr James Organ, University of Liverpool
- Professor Simon Gardiner and Dr Doug Morrison, Leeds Beckett University
- Pete Weatherby QC, Hillsborough Legal Team and Bill co-drafter
- Elkan Abrahamson, Hillsborough Legal Team, Director at Jackson Canter and Bill co-drafter
University of Liverpool, Foresight Centre,
Hub Lounge - 1 Brownlow Street,
To attend please register here - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/invitation-to-a-symposium-on-the-proposed-hillsborough-law-public-session-tickets-31281890978
Eleanor Rathbone Lecture
The event will be followed by the Eleanor Rathbone Lecture delivered by Professor Phil Scraton 'Hillsborough: Resisting Injustice, Recovering Truth', which will take place at 5pm, Wednesday February 15, 2017.
Register for the lecture here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hillsborough-resisting-injustice-recovering-truth-tickets-28421064168?aff=es2