Lawyers who acted for the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims have spoken about the comradeship and cooperation that developed among legal teams, after being honoured for their work in front of 500 peers.
Twelve Hillsborough legal teams received the award for outstanding achievement at the Legal Aid Practitioners Group’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards ceremony in London last night.
The teams are: Bindmans, Birnberg Peirce, Butcher & Barlow, Broudie Jackson Canter, Doughty Street Chambers, EAD Solicitors, Garden Court, Garden Court North, 1 Gray’s Inn Square, Harrison Bundey, Mansfield Chambers and 4 Paper Buildings.
More than 60 lawyers acted in the inquest, which lasted for over two years and involved a million pages of evidence. In April the jury concluded that the 96 football fans who died in the 1989 disaster were unlawfully killed.
Ruth Bundey, of Leeds-based Harrison Bundey, paid tribute to the dedication of the victims’ families.
She told the event: ‘As the inquests progressed it made no difference who was actually whose client as we were all in it together. New alliances within alliances formed. Those who hugged, those who smoked, those of us on the 9.22 [train] from Liverpool, those who never missed a match at Anfield or away.’
Looking ahead, Bundey said the jubilation of the inquests’ conclusions ‘must be translated now into scrutiny of what comes next. [With] hope in our hearts we look forward to prosecutions, to new laws on accountability and to real justice for the 96’.
Trevor Hicks, president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose two teenage daughters died in the disaster, said the legal teams had transformed his view of lawyers.
He added: ‘They fully deserve the [award] for the way they handled a complex task with great competence and sensitivity. They worked extremely well with us and with each other. I would like to say that we are extremely grateful to them for a good job very well done.’
Other winners from the evening were:
Legal aid newcomer – Darragh Mackin, KRW Law
Social and welfare lawyer – Lou Crisfield, Miles & Partners
Family legal aid lawyer – Baljit Bains, Wilson Solicitors
Family mediator – Tracy Winstanley, Heaney Watson
Legal aid barrister – Elizabeth Callaghan, Dere Street Barristers
Mental health lawyer – Philippa Curran, Odonnells Solicitors
Children’s rights lawyer – Clare Jennings, Matthew Gold & Company
Public law lawyer – Simon Creighton, Bhatt Murphy
Criminal defence lawyer – Simon Natas, Irvine Thanvi Natas
Legal aid firm/not-for-profit agency – Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit
Access to justice through IT – CrowdJustice