Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Jamaica-born lawyers feature in landmark UK Hillsborough Inquest

Published:Tuesday | April 26, 2016 | 4:43 PM

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

Two Jamaica-born attorneys are being highlighted for their leading roles in the landmark Hillsborough Inquest in the United Kingdom (UK).

In its verdict delivered yesterday, a nine-member jury found that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed on April 15, 1989 following numerous failings by the police and match organisers in a game of the Football Association Cup between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium.

Clarendon College past student Marcia Willis-Stewart was the lead solicitor for the 76 families represented at the inquest into the incident described as the worst sporting disaster in the UK's history.

Thalia Maragh, a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School at the University of the West Indies, Mona was also on the team.

"It is a proud moment for us as Jamaicans and Jamaican lawyers in that we are representing the country in such as a historic case," Maragh told The Gleaner via phone from the UK.

While noting that there are not many Jamaican attorneys practicing in the UK, Maragh said the result of the inquest and the roles she and Willis-Stewart played could place more Jamaicans at the forefront of the profession there.

"When on my feet presenting the evidence... my accent comes out and it is very distinct and people ask 'Where are you from?' and people talk about Jamaica and it puts Jamaica on the map in that context," she said.

"I am Jamaican grown," said Maragh, who migrated to the UK in 2006.

"I studied and qualified in Jamaica so in that sense it's also a positive for us as Jamaican lawyers," added Maragh, a former junior to local attorney Jacqueline Samuels-Brown.

Jamaican-born English football star John Barnes was a member of the Liverpool squad at the time of the 1989 disaster.

The inquest which ran for two years was the longest jury proceeding in British history.