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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Glaze

Theresa May savages Tories over FIVE YEAR delay to Hillsborough report response

Theresa May today blasted the Government over a five-year delay in responding to a key report into the Hillsborough disaster.

The former Prime Minister said it was “not good enough” for the Conservatives to still not have published their response to Bishop James Jones’ review of the victims’ families' experiences of the legal system.

Grieving relatives were forced to fight for justice after a police cover-up of the disaster which unfolded on April 15, 1989 in the opening minutes of an FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield.

As Home Secretary, Mrs May commissioned Bishop James to write a report, which was published in November 2017.

On Tuesday, the National Police Chiefs' Council and the College of Policing apologised for “profound failings" which have "continued to blight" victims’ relatives as they published their responses to the study - piling pressure on the Government to reveal its own.

Theresa May commissioned the report when she was Home Secretary (PA)

Answering an urgent Commons question today, Home Office Minister Chris Philp insisted: "The Government is fully committed to engaging with the Hillsborough families prior to the publication of the Government's formal response.

"I can also say that in particular since arriving in the Home Office two or three months ago, I have asked for this work to be sped up and we are expecting it to come out in the course of this spring."

But Mrs May, who was widely praised as PM and Home Secretary for her handling of the ongoing aftermath of the tragedy in which 97 Liverpool FC fans died, told Mr Philp: “Saying vaguely that the Government’s response will be available this spring, I do not think is good enough.

“Five years on, the Government must publish its response.”

She told MPs that while the police’s apology was welcomed, “frankly, it would have been far better for them to have done their job properly on that fateful April day 34 years ago”.

She added: “If they had done so, families of the 97, and indeed the whole Liverpool community, would not have gone through the suffering and anguish that they have had to bear over the last 34 years.”

The tragedy unfolded at the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest (PA)

Labour MP Maria Eagle said it was “unconscionable” that 18 months after the last criminal trial into allegations arising from the tragedy collapsed, “there has still been no government response to the Bishop’s response”.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Hillsborough families have fought for decades against obfuscation and lies to get to the truth and everyone hoped that Bishop James Jones’ report would be a turning point.”

Ms Cooper also rapped Home Secretary Suella Braverman for swerving answering the urgent question.

Mrs Braverman sat on the Government frontbench during Prime Minister’s Questions immediately before the Hillsborough debate - but left the chamber, leaving Mr Philp to answer for her.

Ms Cooper said: “Previous home secretaries have shown the respect to the families and to the appalling ways in which they have been wronged by being here to respond.

“It is a devastating failure of responsibility and respect to them not to be here.”

Former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones (Liverpool Echo)

Labour MP Derek Twigg said: “It is an absolute disgrace that the Home Secretary was sat on those benches just before this debate started then left.

“This was a disaster which has no parallel in terms of what happened and the injustice that took place.”

A source close to Mrs Braverman said: “The Home Secretary stood up in the House the day before and expressed her sympathy for the families.

“She also explained the Government’s position on its publication of a response to the Hillsborough report.”

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