Ask yourself, why would a government not want to stop such painful lies?

Families affected by the infected blood scandal pose for photographs outside the Methodist Central Hall following the release of findings of the six-year inquiry
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


"You can see what happened, you can see the lies - it's all there in black and white."

These were the powerful words of Sean Brierley this week. Sean's dad Brian was a pillar of his Kensington community in Liverpool until his life was suddenly cut short in 1991.

Brian was one of the three thousand people who died after contracting HIV after being treated with infected blood by doctors working for the National Health Service. Like so many of those victims, the truth of what happened to Brian did not fully come out into the open until this week.

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That's because after decades of fighting, dealing with lies, cover-ups and obfuscation, the infected blood inquiry report has finally made clear what happened to Brian and so many others in a scandal which could have been avoided. There was, in the words of the report's author, a "pervasive attempt by authorities to cover up the truth".

If the idea of the authorities inflicting outrageous harm on everyday people and then closing ranks in a shameful attempt to hide what happened seems shocking, it is. But it has happened so many times before.

The families of the 97 Liverpool fans unlawfully killed while attending an FA Cup semi-final in 1989 had to fight for a quarter of a century just to eradicate the lies and smears that they, and their deceased relatives, were subjected to often by those in positions of authority. Even after the truth was finally established for all to see - they never got the justice they all deserved.

Just this week we have heard more on another of the great injustices of our time. Disgraced former Post Office boss Paula Vennells was questioned about why hundreds of entirely innocent sub-postmasters were sent to prison on flawed evidence created by a faulty IT system - and the lies and spin that kept that unbelievable injustice hidden for so long.

Sadly this country's history is shamefully littered with outrageous injustices.

Reading the infected blood inquiry report this week brought with it painful memories of so many other scandals in which normal people were harmed by the failures of those in power before being belittled, lied to and smeared as they attempted to get to the truth.

From infected blood to the Post Office, from Hillsborough to Grenfell and from the WASPI women to Windrush. Each abuse so specific in the pain and damage it created - but with common themes linking them all.

Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells giving evidence to the Horizon inquiry
Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells giving evidence to the Horizon inquiry -Credit:PA

Ordinary people, living their lives and going about their business, caught up in a mess not of their making leading to enormous harm and loss at the hands of public authorities. As night follows day, this pain is then enormously exacerbated by a wall of lies and reputational attacks as they attempt to seek truth and justice.

With all this in mind, with so many examples of where this abuse has been carried out and with the many platitudes from politicians that often follow the reality of such situations being brought to light - one would think that those in power would want to enact change.

Yet last year, after an agonising six-year wait for answers, the government responded to a report into how the families of the Hillsborough disaster were treated in their fight for justice by failing to introduce the real change they know is now needed.

Those families know the only way for others to avoid facing the same cruel battle they did is to bring a Hillsborough Law onto the statute books.

The package of measures includes vital components - such as guaranteed legal funding for bereaved families at inquests and inquiries and an independent public advocate to support those affected by disasters.

But the most crucial aspect is a legally-binding duty of candour, a codified requirement of public servants, public authorities and corporations to act in the public interest and proactively and truthfully assist investigations, inquests and inquiries of all official kinds, at the earliest possible point.

Now, you might ask why on earth you would need legislation to ensure public officials tell the truth. The sad fact, based on all the horrendous cases listed above, is that we need it.

A second question might be why a government would refuse to bring in such evidently-needed changes in full. But that is exactly what the government did last year in response to the Hillsborough report - a move they were strongly criticised for this week.

A parliamentary report looking at calls for a dedicated Hillsborough Law recommended a statutory duty of candour for all public bodies. The report, published by Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights, found "institutional defensiveness" remained a problem.

Chair Joanna Cherry KC said: "Just this week we have also seen how the victims of the infected blood scandal had to go through a similar struggle. It is shameful that their pain was compounded by the delays and obfuscation they faced in their search for the truth and the decades they had to wait for justice.

"We are calling on the government to make sure there are cast-iron measures in place that give families as much clout at investigations as the public bodies whose reputations are at risk."

Sadly, we have seen enough from this government to know it has neither the interest nor the will to alter the inherently-unfair system that exists in this country and you can draw your own conclusions as to why that may be.

The good news is that in a few weeks they may no longer be the government of this country and the man attempting to remove them has promised on multiple occasions that his party will bring in a Hillsborough Law in full.

It is incumbent on everyone in this country who believes in fairness and justice to ensure that Keir Starmer sticks to his word.

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