[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, will provide a report to the British government detailing the experiences of the families of those killed in the Hillsborough disaster, the UK’s Home Secretary told MPs this afternoon.
In a statement in the House of Commons, following yesterday’s historic unlawful killing inquest verdicts, Home Secretary Theresa May paid tribute to Bishop James Jones’ work as chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, saying that their work had led to the new inquest – the longest in British legal history – and two separate criminal investigations: one looking at the events of the disaster itself; and another looking at the subsequent police cover-up and altering of witness statements.
The two investigations are ongoing. It is expected that files will be sent to prosecutors by the end of this year with a decision on any prosecutions within a few months after that.
Speaking to MPs, Ms May said that Bishop James Jones will continue to chair the “family forums” that have been established to help the family groups engage in a structured way with the two investigations and the Crown Prosecution Service.
“In addition, I am keen that we understand and learn from the families’ experiences,” Ms May said. “I have therefore asked Bishop James – who is my adviser on Hillsborough – to write a report which draws on these experiences. This report will be published in due course, to ensure that the full perspective of those most affected by the Hillsborough disaster is not lost.
“I would also like to express my thanks to Bishop James again for his invaluable advice over the years. There is further work to be done so I have asked Bishop James to remain as my adviser and I am pleased to say he has agreed to do so.”
Welcoming Bishop James Jones’ new role, the Opposition spokesman Andy Burnham, who established the Independent Panel when he was in government in January 2010, said that he had attended several days of the new inquest.
“I saw how hard it was on the families: trapped for two years in a temporary courtroom; told to show no emotion as police lawyers smeared the dead and those who survived – beyond cruel. “I welcome Bishop James’s new role in explaining just how cruel this was to the House [of Commons] and to the country.”