Hillsborough Disaster: Commons debate after e-petition

The victims of the 1989 disaster in Sheffield were crushed in over-crowded pens

Calls for the full release of documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died are being debated by MPs later.

The debate was triggered by an e-petition which gathered the support of more than 139,000 people.

Families of the victims have called for the publication of 40,000 documents relating to the FA Cup semi-final.

David Cameron’s office said that all relevant papers have already been handed over to the independent panel.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, set up in 2009 and chaired by Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, was set up to consider ways of creating an archive of Hillsborough material and ensuring that as much information as possible was disclosed to the public.

A spokesman for the prime minister said that the panel should decide when to pass on the official documents to the Hillsborough families and whether to publish them.

It is due to complete its work in 2012.

Mr Cameron wrote to shadow health secretary Andy Burnham in September stating that the government wants “full public disclosure”.

Ninety-five supporters died on 15 April 1989 when a crush developed in the caged pens at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, which is home to Sheffield Wednesday.

The 96th victim was in a coma for three years following the match against Nottingham Forest, and died in 1992.

In the immediate aftermath blame was attributed to various groups, most notably the fans themselves, however an inquiry under Lord Justice Taylor focussed attention on the design of football grounds and the actions of the police.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group is particularly keen for details of briefings and communications involving the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, and South Yorkshire Police to be made public.

Joey Barton: “I think people can handle the truth”

But previous attempts to have documents released have failed.

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg said he believed the Hillsborough Independent Panel should release documents to the victims’ families first, ahead of public disclosure.

He told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live: “All the Hillsborough papers will be made available by the government to the independent panel and the panel is completely free to release those papers as they want, when they want, to the public.

“I think it’s really important we let the panel show the information to the families first so the stuff doesn’t come out in kind of dribs and drabs, which I don’t think the families on the whole would welcome.

“In terms of the actual events leading up to what happened, debates and discussion within government, that has all got to be got out there by way of the panel.”

However, the e-petition calls for full disclosure without any pre-filtering.

Liverpool fans have maintained campaigns since the disaster

Monday evening’s debate has been welcomed by Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who was in his first spell in charge of the club when the disaster happened.

Earlier this year he said: “It is fantastic news for the families. I think this isn’t a political issue – it is a humanitarian one, so at least common sense has prevailed.”

Campaigners who gather more than 100,000 petition signatures could have their ideas discussed in the Commons, however there is no guarantee owing to limited time slots.

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