The statute introduces the legal liability for covering up. The introduction of the legal liabilities implies that individuals involved in cover-up activities directly or indirectly are liable to the legal prosecution. Therefore, cover-up becomes an illegal activity and individuals cannot maintain such practices that lead to covering-up of their activities or other people. The legal liability increases the responsibility of people in face of the contemporary criminal justice system since the violation of this provision will lead to respective legal actions and the prosecution of the individual, who violates the statute’s norms and commits cover-up.
The statute introduces the legal liability for individuals or organizations, who encourage or support covering up. This provision is essential to discourage cover-up because often individuals involved directly in covering up are forced to their covering up activities under the pressure of their authorities or being under the public pressure, or the pressure of their organizational environment. For instance, often law enforcement agents tend to cover-ups out of sheer solidarity with their colleagues, as they believe that next day they may be in a similar situation and they will need the cover-up from the part of their colleagues. However, such practices lead to the further aggravation of the situation and the rise of case of covering up.
The statute makes the investigation and results of investigations related to cover-up issues public. At the moment, investigations and their results related to cases of cover-up remains within the investigating body, for instance, the police. As a result, the public uncovered cases of covering up only years ago since the case has been investigated. Hence, the investigation of cover-up cases was and still is ineffective, while publicity will increase the effectiveness of the investigation of cover-up cases and contribute to their higher transparency. The transparency of the investigation process and its results will increase the reliability of the investigation and decreases the risk of cover-up.
The background of the statute
The statute is created in response to numerous cases of cover-up, which reveal the full extent to which cover-up is dangerous. At this point, it is possible to refer to the notorious Hillsborough case. The recent publication of the police reports and the in-depth investigation of the case reveals that the police used cover-up to hide the failure of top executives holding the office in the time of the tragedy to prevent the tragedy. In addition, the Hillsborough case and its recent investigation have revealed the inability of the ambulance and emergency services to provide health care services to individuals involved in the incident immediately. As a result, the poor health care services led to numerous casualties as the tragedy occurred. In addition the existing regulations were poor, while the authorities should be aware of the unpreparedness of the stadium to accept such a large number of spectators. Nevertheless, the investigation that occurred in the late 1980s found the fans solely responsible for the tragedy, while other participants, who were actually responsible for the tragedy used cover-up to avoid the legal prosecution and responsibility for their erroneous actions or inaction in the time, when the tragedy occurred. In fact, it is until the recent in-depth investigation, the details of the case remained covered up from the public, while the revelation of these facts has proved to be shocking for the public, since people remained unaware of truth for over two decades, while some individuals responsible for the tragedy have escaped the legal prosecution or any other punishment successfully.
More recent case of Jimmy Savile also reveals the necessity of introducing the Anti-Cover-Up Statute. The Jimmy Savile scandal raised the issue of possible paedophilic inclinations of Savile, a celebrity, who died in 2011 and who faced investigations involving sexual abuse issues but avoid the prosecution successfully. In this regard, the cover-up could have played an important part in hiding possible illegal activities of Jimmy Savile in the past, which were investigated in-depth after his death. As a result, new facts emerged, making the public doubtful whether James Savile committed sexually abusive actions in relation to minors or not. However, the negative effect of cover-up is obvious since it is due to covering up Jimmy Savile has managed to escape the adequate and efficient investigation of his activities in relation to minor girls.
In actuality, the existing legislation fails to prevent cases of covering up. In fact, it is only the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 that attempts to handle cases of cover up but this act is ineffective and needs considerable updates. Hence, the Anti-Cover-Up Statute is essential.