It has been announced today that the Hillsborough Independent Panel will publish its final report and associated documents into the Hillsborough tragedy.
It has been announced today that the Hillsborough Independent Panel will publish its final report and associated documents into the Hillsborough tragedy on 12 September.
The panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev James Jones, has examined more than 400,000 pages of documents from 80 organisations connected to the catastrophe – which claimed the lives of 96 football fans – since it was set up by the government back in January 2010.
The panel’s remit is to ‘…oversee full public disclosure of relevant government and local information’ and produce a report which will ‘illustrate how the information disclosed adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.’
In a statement today the panel says it is:
“Now approaching the completion of its work of securing maximum possible disclosure of documents relating to the disaster and its aftermath. Disclosure, as it has been made clear, will be first to the Hillsborough families and then to the wider public. At the same time, in line with its Terms of Reference, the Panel will publish its Report explaining how the disclosed documents add to public understanding.”
Ninety-six people were killed at a Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest football match at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground on 15 April 1989. Altogether, 766 people were injured as crowds surged forward, crushing fans at the front of the stadium. A judicial inquiry later blamed the police for their failure to manage the crowd properly.
However myths were quickly established, most callously by The Sun which made a series of baseless, disgusting accusations about the fans. The paper claimed that Liverpool fans had picked the pockets of victims and urinated on the police officers trying to rescue them.
Earlier this year it was revealed that senior police officers briefed then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, that a “tanked up mob” of Liverpool fans were responsible for the disaster.
• The Sun still does not shine in Liverpool 20 Apr 2011
As Lyndon Johnson once observed, ‘a lie is up and hallway around the world before the truth gets its boots on.’ So it has been with Hillsborough. The continuing search for justice for the dead and injured has been circuitous.
Like the families of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, the Hillsborough families have faced a wall of official obfuscation before a process has eventually been established to uncover the truth.
Hillsborough has two important legacies. The first is that the determination of ordinary people to hold the powerful to account should never be underestimated. The second is that decision-makers should think twice before becoming party to a fabricated version of events which is then allowed to gain currency.
The families – and the millions of people supporting them – will be hoping that the panel is now able to shed new light on the tragedy and a complete picture into the causes and the cack-handed attempts to cover-up culpability – will now be possible.
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