Maria is a Liverpool FC fan. Maria has been working to help the Hillsborough families since 1990, when, as a junior solicitor, the firm she worked for – Brian Thompson and Partners – was involved in the civil litigation on behalf of the Hillsborough families. Although she did not have conduct of any of the cases, she was able to follow their progress. When she got elected to Parliament in 1997, she was swiftly contacted by constituents such as Phil Hammond, Jenni Hicks and Doreen Jones, all of whom lost children in the crush at Leppings Lane.
Maria says “I have a lot to say about Hillsborough and what has gone on over the years but because of the fact that the new inquests are currently going on, I do not want to say anything that may be used to get in the way of that process. This page will definitely be updated thereafter.”
“I have always tried to help the families in any way I can since I was first elected to Parliament. My speeches in Parliament at crucial points over the years are part of the developing picture over that time of trying to move things forward through the legal system.”
“Even though the interim report of the public enquiry by Lord Justice Taylor was very clear about the culpability of the South Yorkshire Police within four months of the disaster happening, the original inquest verdicts, now overturned, muddied the waters and acted as a brake on the legal system’s capability of dealing with the aftermath of the disaster. This had consequences for years ahead.”
“Along with Andy Burnham, I called on the morning of the 20th anniversary of the disaster in 2009 for the release of all documentation, something which led to the establishment of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. (Ref Liverpool Echo piece) I was proud to be part of ensuring that this novel way of dealing with a huge injustice, whilst avoiding the pitfalls of having to rely on a legal system which had already come to a view over many years was pursued.”
“The arrangements for the HIP process the Government made in 2009 enabled the release of documents that would not normally be released thanks to Justice Minister, Lord Michael Wills’s decision to make the Panel members data controllers under the Data Protection Act. Along with Government taking a very broad view of what should be released, including some documents that would not normally be released for 30 years, the Panel was able to do its work. This was one of the key decisions ensuring that the process worked – unlike the Stuart-Smith scrutiny in 1998, which failed. I believe that the Independent Panel worked wonderfully well to put the full facts before the British public and the current Inquests and IPCC investigations are a tribute to that fact.”
“I have co-sponsored a Private Members Bill with Lord Michael Wills, Public Advocate Bill currently in the House of Lords, to try and ensure that there is a process available to other families of disasters in future to prevent them having to wait for 25 years to get to the truth.”
“The report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel has led to the biggest inquiry by the IPCC into police wrongdoing ever undertaken and to the quashing of the original Inquest verdicts and the new Inquests into the deaths of the 96 Hillsborough victims.”
Maria Eagle MP, responding to the verdicts at the Hillsborough Inquests, said: “My thoughts are with the families of the 96 people who died and the survivors who witnessed such carnage more than 27 years ago. They have had to face a terrible ordeal over such an extended period of time that their ongoing trauma can only be guessed at. At every stage, they have had to defend the reputations of the dead against gross lies and distortions by those responsible for the disaster. South Yorkshire Police bear a particular responsibility for this.
As someone who has fought alongside the families for justice since I was elected to Parliament in 1997, I am glad that this ordeal has come closer to being over with the delivery of the inquest verdicts today. Further legal proceedings may now result and I look forward to the CPS considering these findings.
At the outset of these new inquests, we were all cautiously optimistic that a verdict of unlawful killing would be reached. It is a huge victory for the families in their campaign for justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives tragically on that day that a verdict of unlawful killing was returned today.
It is also a complete vindication of the families and the survivors of the disaster that the jury unanimously agreed that the behaviour of fans did not cause or contribute to the situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles. Lord Justice Taylor came to this conclusion within months of the disaster. We have to ask as a society how it has been left to the families to conduct this campaign over 27 years to clear the names and defend the reputations of those who died and survived the trauma.”
Hillsborough Family Support Group can be contacted via:-
Hillsborough Justice Campaign can be contacted via:-
Up to date information on the inquests can be found here:
Further Reading links can be found below: