Andy Burnham MP delivered a moving and powerful statement during a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday regarding the determinations of the Hillsborough inquests.
He said: “At long last, justice for the 96, for their families, for all Liverpool supporters, for an entire city.
“But it took too long in coming and the struggle for it took too great a toll on too many. Now those responsible must be held to account for 96 unlawful deaths and a 27-year cover-up.
“Thankfully, the jury saw through the lies and I’m sure this house will join me in thanking the jury for their devotion to this task and giving two years of their lives to this important public duty.
“When it came, their verdict was simple, clear, powerful and emphatic. But it begged the question, how could something so obvious have taken so long?
“Three reasons. First, a police force which has consistently put protecting itself against, over and above protecting people harmed by Hillsborough. Second, collusion between that force and a complicit print media. Third, a flawed judicial system that gives the upper hand to those in authority over and above ordinary people.”
Burnham’s lengthy speech further expanded on the events of the past 27 years before concluding with a tribute to the families, survivors and campaigners who have fought for justice during that time.
“My final words go to the Hillsborough families,” he said.
“I think of those who did not live to see this day; of the courageous Anne Williams; of my constituent Stephen Whittle, the 97th victim, who gave his own ticket to a friend on the morning of the match and later took his own life.
“I think of people like Phil Hammond, who sacrificed his own health to this struggle. I think of the many people who died from outside Merseyside, recognising that this was not just Liverpool’s but the country’s tragedy.
“I think of Carl Brown and his devoted mum Delia, who still visits his grave most days. I think of Trevor and Jenni Hicks and their heartbreaking testimony to the new inquests.
“But I think most of my friend Margaret Aspinall. She didn’t just sacrifice everything for her own son, James. She took on the heavy burden of fighting for everyone else’s loved ones. And by God, didn’t she do them proud?
“It has been the privilege of my life to work with them all. They have prevailed against all the odds. They have kept their dignity in the face of terrible adversity. They could not have shown a more profound love for those they lost on that day.
“They truly represent the best of what our country is all about. Now it must reflect on how it came to let them down for so long.”
Click play above to watch Andy Burnham's Commons statement in full.