6 December 2023

The Government have today responded to an independent review of the experiences of Hillsborough families. They have announced some progress and further commitments on the recommendations made in 2017, but INQUEST does not believe these go far enough. 

Six years ago in November 2017, the landmark review ‘The patronising disposition of unaccountable power: A report to ensure the pain and suffering of the Hillsborough families is not repeated’ was published 

The author, Reverend James Jones, a former Bishop of Liverpool and chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, made strong recommendations on the response of public bodies to state related deaths, and the involvement of bereaved families in these processes. 

INQUEST made a submission to the review and organised a family listening day where bereaved people discussed their experiences following deaths of relatives in contact with the police, in prisons and in mental health and learning disability settings. Many of the concerns raised by INQUEST and the families we work with were reflected in the recommendations. 

After significant delays in responding, the long awaited Government response to this review has been published.  

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: "The systems for responding to deaths must be fair and enable accountability and systemic change to prevent future deaths.  

Bishop James Jones’ landmark review exposed how the interests of powerful institutions and individuals prevail over bereaved people, seeking to find the truth about how their relative died. 

The failure of the Government to extend the duty of candour to all public authorities and end the inequality of arms is a betrayal and insult to Hillsborough families and all they have fought for over more than three decades. 

Only the enactment of Hillsborough Law will ensure there is no hiding place for official wrongdoing or failure and address the power imbalance at inquests. It will prevent cover-ups and enable swifter, fairer justice. 

At the crux of this is the democratic accountability of public authorities at an individual and corporate level.” 



For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Leila Hagmann on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected] 

Hillsborough Law is a Bill that will 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. See the Hillsborough Law Now campaign. 

Legal aid for inquests has been a longstanding campaign at INQUEST. In January 2022, important changes were made when the means test was removed from some types of legal aid, to ensure many more bereaved families have access to this vital resource. Yet more changes are needed to ensure there is true equality of arms between bereaved people and the state. See the Legal Aid for Inquests campaign.

Background and further information: