In this issue of Socialist Lawyer (No 62) published by the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, President Mike Mansfield writes on the parallels between the Report of the Independent Panel on Hillsborough and the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday. Mike Mansfield represented some of the families in both inquiries.
Mansfield praises the Independent Panel on Hillsborough for the conduct of the investigation. There were “no leaks official or unofficial. No Partiality. Families first”. It was “a perfect prototype or model for the future” and “truth in action rarely observed in other judicial processes, however good the intentions”.
Surprisingly for someone proud of being a radical lawyer, Mansfield praises David Cameron for his “statesmanlike and authoritative speeches” in response to the Hillsborough Panel and the Saville Report. Thousands in Derry, and later in Liverpool, broke into applause, feeling vindicated and rehabilitated from the lies and smears that had been cast upon the dead victims of each tragedy.
Above all, Mansfield praises “the power of public opinion [that] rose up from the terraces and galvanised the first e-petiition to trigger a debate in Parliament”. This was due to the “extraordinary efforts of the victims, friends and relatives. Single minded, unstinting and persistent over decades”.
Mansfield calls for the establishment of a permanent Truth Commission, with a rotating membership, to examine examples of systematic failure or abuse. The membership of this Commission would have to command respect for their independence of mind and spirit, their expertise and their dedication. Those were the outstanding features of every single Hillsborough panel member. He wonders if the Chilcot and Leveson Inquiries will emulate the Hillsborough panel.
Notes to editors
The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers was founded in 1930. It provides a forum for the discussion and analysis of law and the legal system, both nationally and internationally, from a socialist perspective. It holds frequent public meetings and conducts educational programmes. It is independent of any political party. Membership comprises lawyers, academics, students and legal workers as well as trade union and labour movement affiliates. For more information on the Haldane Society contact Liz Davies on 07958 673840.
Michael Mansfield QC is President of the Haldane Society and a criminal defence barrister. He is known for representing victims of miscarriages of justice, including some of the Birmingham Six, the Bridgewater Four and the Tottenham Three. He represented the family of Jean Charles de Menezes at his inquest and represented families of victims at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. He is a member of the jury panel of the Russell Tribunal inquiry into the legal ramifications of Israel's human rights and humanitarian law violations in Palestine. His autobiography “Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer” was published in 2009.
Michael Mansfield QC will address the Annual General Meeting of the Haldane Society on Thursday 15 November 2012, speaking on “Palestine, Putney and the planet”. For more information contact Liz Davies on 07958 673840. Entrance is free but priority is reserved for Haldane members, law students and practitioners.