23/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 01:45

Will Hillsborough disaster files be made public?

Category: England

Published: 17th Oct 2011 04:00:23

For the first time since the Hillsborough stadium disaster 22 years ago, MPs will debate whether or not to release all documents relating to the tragedy.

On 15 April 1989, 95 Liverpool supporters were killed in a crush of fans at Sheffield Wednesday's ground, where the club was playing an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

The 96th victim was in a coma for three years and died in 1992.

If the House of Commons votes in favour, Cabinet documents would reveal discussions held by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the days that followed.

The debate was triggered when more than 139,000 people signed a government e-petition calling for the full, uncensored release of 40,000 documents relating to the disaster and its aftermath.

Signatures increased significantly after it was tweeted by Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who said "it is very important that we support this".

Steve Rotheram, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, will put forward the motion on Monday and, unless home secretary Theresa May agrees to the motion, there will then be a Commons vote.

Mr Rotheram said a vote in favour would be "a major a step towards finally achieving justice for the 96".

In 2009, the then Labour government set up the Hillsborough Independent Panel to "oversee the maximum possible public disclosure of governmental and other agency documentation relating to the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath".

However, the Cabinet Office has maintained no material should be disclosed before the panel finishes its work, planned for next year.

But, in response to a BBC Freedom of Information request in April 2009, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled a full release of the papers was in the public interest.

The Commissioner also strongly criticised the Cabinet Office for its "unjustified and excessive" delays in handling the BBC's request.

The government then appealed insisting the documents should be released to the panel first.

If its appeal is successful, the papers will not be released until spring 2012.

Mrs Thatcher was briefed about the disaster in the days that followed.

The records to be disclosed include reports presented to her, correspondence between her office and that of the Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, and Cabinet minutes.

Some campaigners for the victims' families have suggested Mrs Thatcher sought to avoid the police being criticised.

An inquiry into the disaster, led by Lord Justice Taylor, rejected the police case that fans were to blame and instead said it was caused by a police failure to control the crowd.

It was later estimated that more than 3,000 supporters were admitted to the central pens - almost double the "safe" capacity.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group has always accused the police of conducting a cover-up, while the force has argued it was entitled to edit the statements, removing comment and hearsay.

Prime Minister David Cameron has stated he is committed to releasing the 1989 Cabinet minutes.

A spokesman said: "The Government has confirmed its commitment to full transparency about the Hillsborough disaster through full public disclosure. All papers had previously been shared with the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

"The Government is happy for all the papers, including Cabinet papers, to be released as soon as the Panel so decides, in consultation with the families.

"We expect them to be shared with the Hillsborough families first and then to the wider public."

But petitioners are demanding that the information given out is not pre-filtered before being given to the families.

That view was recently endorsed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who told the Commons "it is very important we get to see all the relevant papers over the tragedy in which 96 Liverpool football supporters died".

The debate is due to begin at 1900 BST on Monday.

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2011. Will Hillsborough disaster files be made public? [Online] (Updated 17th Oct 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/194402/Will-Hillsborough-disaster-files-be-made-public [Accessed 23rd Aug 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Lennon killer denied parole for eight time

    Authorities in New York have denied parole to the man who shot dead musician John Lennon in 1980 for the eight time.
  • MPs to quiz BBC and police bosses over Cliff Richard raid

    The bosses of the BBC and South Yorkshire Police have been summoned to appear before MPs after a claim of a "cover-up" over a recent police raid on Sir Cliff Richard's Berkshire home.
  • Warning by local councils over black market cigarettes

    Attempts to cut the amount people smoke are being hit by a black market trade in millions of illegal cigarettes, council bosses have warned.
  • BT warns it will increase phone bills by 6.5%

    BT has warned millions of customers it is increasing its prices by up to 6.5% from December this year.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Lennon killer denied parole for eight time

    Authorities in New York have denied parole to the man who shot dead musician John Lennon in 1980 for the eight time.