Thirty years on from the Hillsborough stadium disaster, lawyers are calling for reform of its “merciless” lasting legal legacy.
The rights of people who suffer psychiatric injuries after witnessing traumatising events were founded in the legal case brought by the Hillsborough victims’ families.*
“After years of heartache and fighting, the truth was finally unravelled about what really happened that day in Sheffield, but there is still an injustice which needs to be addressed,” said Brett Dixon, president of the not-for-profit group for injured people, APIL.
He explained: “People who are psychologically harmed by witnessing the death or injury of a loved one, must be at the harmful event ‘in real life’ and suffer sudden shock in order to pursue justice for their injuries.
“Watching your child die slowly hours after the event, for example, isn’t considered a ‘sudden’ shock,” Mr Dixon explained.
“It’s merciless. Watching the horror unfold on a screen, or hearing a loved one die over the telephone, can be no less damaging than being there.
“Three decades have passed and a lot has changed. The law has always been unfair and inflexible but it is clearly archaic now in our age of smartphones, tablets and live streaming,” he said.
“Mental injuries can wreak devastation on someone’s life. They’re serious and sufferers deserve help and recompense when the event should and could have been avoided were it not for negligence.
“For the past 20 years, the responsibility for correcting the unfairness has been kicked between the courts and the Government like a political football. Both sides argue that it is for the other to address,” said Mr Dixon.
“It is time the law stopped treating psychiatric harm and mental illness as a lesser injury than any physical one. It is time Hillsborough’s legacy was corrected.”
Notes to editors:
*Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police
- APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
- For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e: firstname.lastname@example.org, or press and communications officer Lizzy Freeman t: 0115 943 5431, e: email@example.com.
- Visit the association's website at www.apil.org.uk.
- Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.