Hillsborough verdict: Andy Burnham demands South Yorkshire police chief resigns in extraordinary speech

'What kind of country leaves people, who did no more than wave off their loved-ones to a football match, sitting in a courtroom, 27 years later, begging for the reputation of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and fathers'

Charlie Cooper
Whitehall Editor
Wednesday 27 April 2016 14:38
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Andy Burnham's tribute to Hillsborough victims

The chief constable of the South Yorkshire police force should resign over his force’s handling of the Hillsborough inquest, Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham has said.

Addressing a hushed House of Commons, Mr Burnham, who has been a longstanding campaigner for the families of the 96 victims of the disaster, labelled the leadership and culture at the force “rotten to the core” in a powerful speech.

The families have also called on South Yorkshire chief constable David Crompton to step down.

In a statement which drew applause from MPs, breaking House of Commons convention, Mr Burnham said the Hillsborough cover-up had been “advanced in the committee rooms of this House and in the press rooms of 10 Downing Street”.

“What kind of country leaves people, who did no more than wave off their loved-ones to a football match, sitting in a courtroom, 27 years later, begging for the reputation of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and fathers? The answer is one that needs to do some deep soul-searching,” he said.

Mr Burnham also called for greater state support to pay the legal costs of families in inquest proceedings, and asked the Government not to delay a second press standards inquiry into the relationship between the police and the media.

Responding to the Hillsborough inquest jury’s finding that the 96 victims of the 1989 catastrophe were unlawfully killed, Home Secretary Theresa May said that prosecutions could follow on charges including criminal negligence and perjury.

The Crown Prosecution Service would decide later this year whether charges should be brought, she said, but added that “no one should impute criminal liability to anyone while the ongoing investigations are still pending”

Mrs May also paid tribute to the Hillsborough families, saying we would “rarely see their like again” and praised Mr Burnham’s commitment to them.

David Cameron, told MPs earlier today that the families’ “search for justice” had been “met with obfuscation and hostility, instead of sympathy and answers.

“As I said to the House in 2012 about the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, it's wrong that the families had to wait for so long and to fight so hard just to get to the truth,” he said.

“I know the whole house will want to join me in praising their courage, their patience and their resolve. They've never faltered in the pursuit of the truth and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude.”

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