INQUEST is supporting the Hillsborough Law Now Campaign for a Hillsborough Law, formally known as the Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill, to enforce public authorities to tell the truth.

Since 1989, the Hillsborough families and survivors have called for the truth and for change. Following the 2016 inquests, they have campaigned for a legacy to prevent others from having to go through the same nightmare as they did; grieving the deaths of their loved ones whilst fighting against institutional lies which for 27 years placed the blame on Hillsborough survivors and those who died.

What is Hillsborough Law?

The Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill, known as Hillsborough Law, is a draft law that would enforce a duty of candour on state authorities and officers and private entities whose activities impact on public safety.

The families of those who died at Hillsborough were at the heart of devising the Bill and worked with lawyers to create the Bill to prevent cover-ups.

Why is the Bill needed?

There is no clearly defined duty for state bodies to tell the truth. There is a common law duty, but this is ill-defined and limited to very specific circumstances. 

The cover-up following the Hillsborough disaster was not an isolated incident. We have seen the same issues arise following the Bloody Sunday, Infected Blood, Grenfell Tower fire and Manchester Arena bombing inquiries, and in inquests for the hundreds of people who die in state institutions every year. 

How can you support?

Learn more about this campaign launch event here.


How are families affected?

What often goes unmentioned is the emotional and physical impact on generations of bereaved families who remain involved in the lengthy, complex investigation, inquest or inquiry process. Their experience is exacerbated by state denial, secrecy, insensitivity, delays, funding problems and lack of accountability.

we did not have any means whatsoever. As a group of bereaved families, we did our best to get to the truth of what happened to our loved ones. As I said in my statement, it was an insurmountable wall to climb because, everywhere we went, the doors were closed in our faces.

Jenni Hicks, Hillsborough bereaved family member and survivor, evidence to the Justice Committee, March 2023

What will the Bill do?

Enforce a positive duty to tell the truth by:

  • Establishing an enforceable, legal duty of candour on public authorities, public servants and corporations who have a responsibility for public safety.
  • Requiring public authorities, public servants and corporations to proactively assist investigations, inquests and inquiries.
  • Ensuring victims and families have equal representation and receive public funding for lawyers from the start.
  • Providing a legal ‘toolkit’ to help families and others to enforce the duty, via access to courts and tribunals.
  • Providing ‘backstop’ criminal offences to ensure compliance with the duty 
  • Making new offences of wilfully failing to discharge the duty to fully assist inquiries, or to intentionally or recklessly mislead the public or media.

What will this duty lead to?

  • Truth
  • Disclosure of relevant material
  • More efficient investigations, processes and ultimately, the administration of justice
  • Reduced case costs

What are the issues with the current system?

There is an endemic culture of delay, denial, and institutional defensiveness from public authorities and private corporations that bear responsibility for the health and safety of the public. Their interests prevail over the access of bereaved families to the truth and transparency over how and why their relative died. 

Even where there is clear evidence of systemic or individual failings, organisations too often hide the truth. Rather than seeing public scrutiny as an opportunity to learn from mistakes and reform dangerous practices, they prioritise reputation management and defend their policies and procedures.

A system where there is no accountability – effectively impunity – is a system which repeats its failures and promotes wrongdoing. And in this context, failure and wrongdoing translate into further preventable deaths. 

With Hillsborough Law, we have a legislative lever that goes someway to compel state officials to tell the truth and the opportunity to break this cycle.

What has happened so far?

The first reading of the Bill was 29th March 2017. The Bill was unopposed, however, progress was halted by the 2017 General Election. The campaign has continued and in 2022, the Labour Party adopted Hillsborough Law.

There is a clear need for the Bill, which will have crucial, wide-ranging effects and the constant changes in government should not be the reason for lack of progress. It would be a fitting legacy if Hillsborough Law brought about improvements to benefit the many families still facing the same hurdles that the Hillsborough families battled against. 

 It's time for Parliament to act. This isn't just an historic issue, it's about the here and now. Not to act on the lessons learned is in effect to perpetuate an injustice. Can Parliament not see this? Everybody else can.

- Right Reverend Bishop James Jones 

Who supports Hillsborough Law?

The Bill has cross party support, as well as support from a lengthy list of bereaved family campaign groups, senior judges and Inquiries and Review panels. The Bill has been referenced repeatedly:

  • The Report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (2021)
  • The Coroner Service, Justice Committee report (2021)
  • When Things Go Wrong: The response of the justice system, JUSTICE (2020)
  • Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody, Rt. Hon. Dame Elish Angiolini DBE KC (2017)
  • 'The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power’ A report to ensure the pain and suffering of the Hillsborough families is not repeated, The Right Reverend James Jones KBE (2017)
  • The Harris Review, Changing Prisons, Saving Lives: Report of the Independent Review into Self-Inflicted Deaths in Custody of 18–24-year-olds (2015)
  • Preventing Deaths in Detention of Adults with Mental Health Conditions’, The Equalities and Human Rights Commission Inquiry (2014/15)
  • Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Robert Francis KC (2013)

Where can I learn more?

Go to and follow them on social media for al the latest news on the campaign. 

Banner image credit: Sarah Booker

INQUEST is completely independent of government. We rely on regular donations to carry out our work. 

Support INQUEST and bereaved families in their fight for truth, justice, and accountability by becoming a regular donor today.