John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley, Liberal Democrat)
I take that point, Mr Deputy Speaker. My concern is that we have other cover-ups going on, and I would have thought that it is in order to discuss them and how to prevent them. I will not refer to my Bill, however.
In England, it is even possible to get a court order that stops a complaint being made. The Hillsborough case went as far as the House of Lords and involved inquests, inquiries and judicial reviews, but the truth did not come out until there was an independent panel.
My own view is that we need to be willing to look at cover-up allegations by establishing committees of inquiry in Parliament. However, there are other things that could be done to improve the accountability of public officials. Judicial review proceedings are used to deal with the accountability of public officials, and they were used in dealing with Hillsborough. The General Medical Council is also subject to judicial review. However, public bodies have very deep pockets, and there are cost risks for ordinary individuals if the costs of such a process are not covered by public funding. If cost limitations on judicial review are not set at an early stage, ordinary people cannot take on the system—the GMC, perhaps, or a local council planning decision, or a coroner as in the Hillsborough case.
In the case of Hillsborough, judicial review did not provide an adequate system of scrutiny; that was made clear in paragraph 2.9.100 of the report. One of the difficulties with criminal prosecutions and regulatory
actions is that all the processes are somewhat remote from the people affected. At paragraph 2.9.114 Terri Sefton is reported as stating,
“none of the questions that she had wanted answered had been answered.”
We need greater transparency and accountability. We know, for example, that the Slovak Republic has identified 40 cases in the English courts involving 89 children where it does not think the legally correct decision has been taken, yet they have gone through our system without any challenge. To me, that is a serious criticism of the system.
The system also has an automatic cover-up in that the media in the UK are prevented from discussing details of what has been going on. Even academic researchers are banned from looking at these secret cases, to see if the decisions are sensible. More recently, it has become clear that one of the people involved in the Haut de la Garenne scandal was Jimmy Savile. Hillsborough happened in 1989, and the Savile issues arose many years ago. However, the US—