Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Labour)
I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to respond to the hon. Gentleman’s important point. The wider issue applies to a whole series of cases. If officers have taken early retirement or retired at the normal age, further investigations or sanctions should be considered if there was serious misconduct while they were in office. The issue is complex, but I will happily discuss it further with the Home Secretary to make sure that justice is not denied in the case of Hillsborough as a result of long-standing arrangements for disciplinary and misconduct procedures, and to make sure that people can, even after 23 years, still be held to account.
Finally, this journey is not over. We owe it to the families to ensure that they can now get truth and justice. We must reflect on how this could have happened; why the attempts to reach the truth and justice failed so many times; why the Liverpool fans and their families were not taken seriously by the justice system for so long; and why the systems that were designed to help people and to provide safeguards against injustice—the courts, the coroners, the police, the police watchdogs, the free press and our democratic institutions—did not get to the truth for 23 years. What do we need to do now to strengthen those checks and balances and to remove the obstacles to justice? Most importantly, how can we ensure that this cannot happen again? No one should have to wait 23 years to find out the truth about what happened to a loved one. No one should have to fight this hard to get justice for a child, a husband or a relative they have lost.
The Hillsborough panel report is so powerful because it has exposed the truth and brought it out from the shadows and into the light of day. The Bishop of Liverpool has said that
“if the truth of any situation is unearthed and laid bare then the truth will shed light and show the direction forward. And it will have the power of pressure.”
The truth has shed light on Hillsborough and the direction is clear, but the journey is not over. Now we must ensure that the pressure of truth leads to justice.