LFC fan running from Anfield to Grenfell to call for Hillsborough Law ‘to stop pattern of cover-ups’

Politics

Mik Parkin has been a Liverpool FC fan for as long as he can remember.

But it was only in 2012, while listening to a podcast about Hillsborough, that he realised he’d “spent years enjoying the football but had never done anything at all to help”.

He became involved in the campaign for justice for the 97 fans who were unlawfully killed in the 1989 stadium disaster in Sheffield, taking on running challenges to raise money.

And on Saturday, he will begin his most gruelling one yet: a 227-mile run from Anfield in Liverpool to Grenfell Tower in London, to highlight the need for a Hillsborough Law.

“I always understood [Hillsborough] was a massive injustice, but when you meet someone who has been through it, it brings it all home,” he told Sky News.

Mik is being supported by his wife Claire
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Mik is being supported by his wife Claire

A Hillsborough Law would establish a charter for families bereaved by public tragedy, ensure publicly funded legal representation for families at inquests where public bodies are represented, and introduce a statutory “duty of candour” for police officers and public servants.

Ministers have refused to adopt it in full, arguing many of the rules it seeks to enforce are already in place.

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They have instead signed up to a Hillsborough Charter, pledging to place the public interest above its own reputation.

Mik is running 227 miles to implore the government to adopt a Hillsborough Law
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Mik is running 227 miles to implore the government to adopt a Hillsborough Law

But campaigners have said more is needed “to stop the pattern of cover-ups”.

Report into Grenfell failings delayed

The run comes ahead of the seventh anniversary of Grenfell, with campaigners dismayed by news this week that the report into systemic and industry failings behind the 2017 fire, which killed 72 people, will not be released before then.

Mik will run around 30 miles each day – more than the length of a marathon – to reach the west London tower block within a week, stopping off at Hillsborough on Monday, the 35th anniversary of the tragedy.

He believes the proposed law is “the best chance of a positive legacy” of the disaster, which was subject to a large police cover-up, sparking a decades-long legal battle for the truth.

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Anger over Hillsborough Law move

Ninety-seven men, women and children died as a result of a crush at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

A 2016 inquest jury ruled the fans were unlawfully killed amid a number of police errors. Nobody has been held accountable.

“Some people see Hillsborough Law and think it’s about football and Liverpool, it’s not,” said Mik.

“The only people who can’t benefit from this actually are the Hillsborough families because the legal avenues have finished.”

File photo dated 15/4/1989 of Liverpool supporters climbing to safety during the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final football match at Hillsborough which led to the deaths of 97 people. The Government is due to respond to recommendations made by Bishop James Jones in his report, The Patronising Disposition Of Unaccountable Power, which found failings in the way the bereaved families of the Hillsborough disaster were treated by those in authority. Issue date: Wednesday December 6, 202
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Liverpool supporters climbing to safety during the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final football match at Hillsborough. Pic: PA

He pointed to other recent tragedies that have led to lengthy delays to justice and accountability – from Grenfell and the Manchester Arena bombings to the Post Office Horizon scandal and infected blood scandal.

“Imagine being part of one of these families, you’re traumatised or grief-stricken and you now have an unexpected legal battle which isn’t going to take months or even years, it will take decades.

“The Hillsborough Law will bring through a duty of candour – so if a major incident happens, the facts get released straight away, which means the truth can be got to much more quickly and once you get the truth, you get accountability and you get change.

“The nature of life is at some moment in time, there will be another tragedy. This will make the country better.”

Flowers are laid and candles are lit on the steps of St Georges Hall in Liverpool
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The Hillsborough disaster, and the cover up that followed, sparked a decades-long fight for justice

Mik, who works for the British Heart Foundation, is encouraging the public to write to their MPs urging them to enact the Hillsborough Law.

Some of the measures in the draft legislation originate from a report by the former Bishop of Liverpool in 2017 aimed at learning lessons from the disaster.

It took the government six years to respond, with Rishi Sunak apologising for the delay in December last year but stopping short of committing to all of Rev James Jones’ recommendations.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – on track to win the next election – has said he will make implementing a Hillsborough Law a priority if he gets into government, but Mik wants to keep up the pressure.

“The election hasn’t happened yet, Labour hasn’t won and if they do they will have so much on their to-do list. We want this to be in the first King’s Speech.”

A general view of the remains of Grenfell Tower in London. Pic: PA
Image:
A general view of the remains of Grenfell Tower in London. Pic: PA

Donations from his run will go to the mental health charity Mind, in memory of two Hillsborough activists, and the Grenfell Foundation, with an aim to raise £10 per, mile totalling £2,270.

For those who cannot give money, he has asked that people drop items to their local British Heart Foundation charity shop – with the aim of meeting a target of 2,270 bags of donations.

The official Hillsborough Law Now campaign said Mik’s run “serves as a timely reminder in an election year of the need to bring in a Hillsborough Law” – as they called on other parties to follow Labour’s suit and “stop this criminal abuse of power”.

The Grenfell United campaign group said: “Nearly seven years after the fire, we are still waiting for the phase 2 report of the public inquiry to be published.

“We hope Mik’s run will bring attention to this long-awaited report and our expectation of the government to implement the recommendations in full without delay.”

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