Inquest funding: 'Hillsborough Law' needed, Andy Burnham says

Hillsborough tribute Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An inquest jury ruled that 96 victims were unlawfully killed 27 years ago

Andy Burnham is to urge MPs to back a "Hillsborough Law", which would ensure legal funding for bereaved families at inquests where police are involved.

The shadow home secretary said the 27-year fight Hillsborough families had to endure showed how the odds were stacked against families seeking the truth.

He will also ask MPs to back stage two of the Leveson Inquiry - looking at the relationship between police and press.

In April the Hillsborough inquest ruled the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.

The jury also found police errors added to a dangerous situation at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's ground where the 96 fans died as a result of a crush.

'Uneven playing field'

Mr Burnham said: "The 27-year struggle of the Hillsborough families exposes how the odds are all too frequently stacked against ordinary families seeking truth and justice.

"Hillsborough must mark a moment of real change when Parliament rebalances the police and criminal justice system and puts more power in the hands of ordinary people.

"We must call time on the uneven playing field at inquests where public bodies spend public money like water on hiring the best lawyers when ordinary families have to scratch around for whatever they can get."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The shadow home secretary had long campaigned with the Hillsborough families for justice

Mr Burnham has become heavily involved with the Hillsborough campaign for justice since 2009 when he addressed fans at the 20th anniversary memorial at Anfield but was interrupted by chants demanding "Justice for the 96".

The anger of fans prompted the MP, then serving in the government as the culture, media and sport secretary, to join calls for any information held relevant to the tragedy to be made public .

He is now planning to propose an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill which would give families a legal right to receive the same amount of funding as the police so that they can also have the best quality lawyers.

The Leigh MP believes this would put more power in the hands of ordinary people.

Mr Burnham will also repeat Labour's call for the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry to go ahead.

The first part of the inquiry, in 2011-2012, examined press ethics, but hearings into ties between newspapers and the police were put on hold amid criminal inquiries over phone hacking.

Downing Street said in February that no decision had been taken about whether to continue with the inquiry.

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