Lancashire MP calls for a "Hillsborough Law" to protect and families of those killed in disasters

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is calling for a new law to protect the families of those killed in disasters, such as Hillsborough.

By Catherine Musgrove
Saturday, 15th January 2022, 3:45 pm

A coroner ruled the 97 Liverpool supporters - including two from Preston - were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care. The inquests also found that the design of the stadium contributed to the crush, and that supporters were not to blame for the dangerous conditions.

Preston victims

Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, 67, a retired postal worker from Preston, was the oldest person to die that day. He died at the ground from compression asphyxia after driving from Preston to watch the game with his son Gerard Martin Baron Jnr.

Hillsborough victims

Christine Anne Jones, 27, a senior radiographer from Preston, also died from compression asphyxia. She went to the game with her husband Stephen, but was separated from him after they entered the ground.

Preston man Mark Aspden was 19 when he was crushed in the Hillsborough tragedy. He was critically ill in a coma and was even read the Last Rites as it was feared he wouldn’t survive. Amazingly, he pulled through and made a full recovery, against all the odds.

With the disaster having recently been revisited with the ITV drama Anne, about Anne William's fight for justice for her son Kevin, Mrs Cooper has reiterated her full support to the campaign for a “Hillsborough Law” to protect and support families of those bereaved in disasters such as Hillsborough.

>>>Read about the ITV drama Anne here.

Christine Anne Jones

Calls for a “Hillsborough Law” emerged in the wake of a review by the Right Reverend James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool, which detailed twenty-five recommendations designed to reform the systems of unaccountable power which were abused by the organisations connected to the disaster.

The Law would bring in a number of measures including:

- A Public Advocate to represent the families of those bereaved in disaster events,

MP Rosie Cooper

- A “duty of candour” on public servants such as police officers to tell the truth and co-operate fully with inquiries,

- Increased access to legal aid so that families can have legal representation of their own,

- A requirement that any criminal trials following a major inquest take place in a court with relevant expertise and status, rather than a crown court.

Mrs Cooper, who was a Liverpool City Councillor for 27 years, said: “As we draw close to the 33rd anniversary of this unspeakable tragedy, I again pay tribute to the work of all the campaigners for Justice for the 97, and especially the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

"ITV’s recent drama Anne has served as a powerful reminder to the whole nation of the impact of Hillsborough on the city of the Liverpool, and the countless lives that were forever changed by that day.

“I have given this campaign my full and unreserved support - it is long overdue that families affected by disasters like Hillsborough have enhanced protection in law, and receive the support that they deserve.

“More recent incidents such as the fire at Grenfell Tower remind us that we must always strive for truth and justice for those who lose their lives in these senseless tragedies. The truth will come out but it shouldn’t take so many years! The Government needs to make it easier, not just for justice to be done – but to be seen to be done.”

Christine Anne Jones

The widower of Preston radiographer Christine Anne Jones described his late wife as "amazing" during the 2014 inquest hearing into her death.

Christine, who worked at the Royal Preston Hospital, was just 27 when she died.

The inquest in Warrington heard Mrs Jones was a treasurer of the Preston Liverpool FC fans’ group and enjoyed attending games with her husband Steven.

The statement from Steven said Christine, who was born in Lancaster, was a regular churchgoer and a talented musician, who was a "popular" member of staff at the hospital.

Steven’s statement added: "She was an amazing wife.

"The first time we went to Anfield Liverpool beat Luton 6-0.

"Christine became treasurer of Preston LFC fans group and helped organise coaches to matches.

"Christine loved the atmosphere at the games and came with me often and became very involved.

"Being superstitious, I didn’t us to go the match in 1989 because we did not go in 88 and Liverpool won.

"We were very happy in four years we spent as husband and wife and I speak for family and myself when say she is very dearly missed today."

Gerald Bernard Patrick Baron

Mr Baron was the oldest fan to lose his life at Hillsborough, aged 67.

He was the brother of former Liverpool player Kevin Baron, who played for the club in the 1950 FA Cup final, and was nicknamed him ‘the Red Baron’ by workmates because of his love of Liverpool FC.

He travelled to the game with his son, also Gerald, from their home in Preston.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Mr Baron Jr told the 2014 inquest: “Never in this world did we envisage anything to happen to us, as you expect to be safe attending any high-profile sporting occasion.

“Win or lose, we were looking forward to the joyous, happy, festival atmosphere that these special occasions evoke.

“Sadly, what transpired that day changed my life forever.

“Neither of us envisaged witnessing hell before our eyes, nor did we expect to be fighting so desperately for our lives, as were so many others.

“The very last words I said to my father were, ‘You will be okay’.

“How wrong I was.”

Mr Baron senior was 18 when the Second World War broke out and he enlisted for the RAF, serving in Burma and India.

When he returned to civilian life in 1946 he met wife Winifred, had seven children and took a job in the Royal Mail, then called the GPO.