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Charity run raises awareness of Hillsborough Law

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Charity run raises awareness of Hillsborough Law

Campaigners are urging political parties to put an end to the “criminal abuse of power” by enacting a law to help victims of major scandals.

The call comes as a runner is set to make the long trek from Liverpool to London for charity, as the 35th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster approaches and just two months ahead of the seventh anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Michael Parkin, known as Mik, said while not directly affected by either disaster, he was moved to take action after hearing about the Hillsborough Law campaign and the difference many feel it could make.

His 227-mile charity effort – averaging 30 miles a day across eight days – is due to start on Saturday in Liverpool, and will take in Manchester and Sheffield before finishing at Grenfell Tower in London on April 20.

The 52-year-old avid Liverpool football fan said he believes a new law “could make a massive change”, citing the long-running fights for justice victims have endured including those of the Manchester Arena bombings, and the Infected Blood and Post Office Horizon scandals.

The Hillsborough Law, or Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, would include a legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively co-operate with official investigations and inquiries.

In December, the Government stopped short of introducing the legislation, saying it was “not aware” of any gaps or clarifications needed that would further encourage a culture of candour among public servants in law.

It has signed up to a Hillsborough Charter, pledging to place the public interest above its own reputation.

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

Mr Parkin, originally from Durham but now based in Leeds, said the law could help protect anyone caught up in a disaster through which they were at no fault.

He told the PA news agency: “Everybody who’s been affected by this, none of them were doing anything risky at all.

“The Grenfell guys went to bed, the Post Office families went to work and were selling stamps. People went to a football match, people went to a music concert.

“(You) don’t expect anything like this to happen and your life turns upside down.

“So not only will it reduce that anguish of getting the truth, it also means when you have the truth, you can change.

“And it means buildings become safer, going to events becomes safer, the machine that is bringing up the wrong numbers gets out of the Post Office years and years earlier, rather than going through the decades of anguish.”

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

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

For those who cannot give money, Mr Parkin 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.

Acknowledging how challenging the run will be, he thanked his wife Claire and all those who have helped in preparation.

A spokesperson for the Hillsborough Law campaign, wishing Mr Parkin good luck for his run, said it “serves as a timely reminder in an election year of the need to bring in a Hillsborough law”.

They added: “Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to make this law a reality if the Labour Party comes to power, we hope other parties will follow suit and stop this criminal abuse of power.”

Mr Parkin said there is a “huge amount of connection felt between the Grenfell community and the Hillsborough community” and he was “thankful” to be part of the campaign to help both.

Grenfell United, representing bereaved and survivors of the fire, said: “Mik’s run, passing through Hillsborough on the 35th anniversary and finishing at Grenfell Tower weeks away from the seventh anniversary of the fire, is a powerful way to raise awareness of the Hillsborough Law – a campaign fighting for a new legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth, and to stop the pattern of cover ups.

“Nearly seven years after the fire, we are still waiting for the Phase Two 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”.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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