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Old October 20th, 2011, 10:50 PM   #41
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Hillsborough debate - Alison McGovern - applause from the public gallery after the speech

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Old October 21st, 2011, 11:51 AM   #42
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Just re-posting the e-petition link so it's on the new page - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/19350

Now at 30,315.
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Old October 21st, 2011, 12:01 PM   #43
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come on lads spread this around,
its on all lfc forums,
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/...topic=282021.0
http://onthekop.com/forum/index.php/topic,27060.0.html
http://www.liverpoolway.co.uk/forum/...-petition.html


can EFC fans also help to spread this around, we need 100,000
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 12:00 PM   #44
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Chester MP Stephen Mosley

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Old October 22nd, 2011, 04:19 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeGee View Post
If we had cable in our close that dish would be gone tomorrow.
Why not get BT vision?

I personally couldn't knowingly pay money to a corporation that empoyes Kelvin McKenzie (Sky News) and is part of News International, an organisation that accuses Liverpool fans of being boozed up thieves and which taps into the cell phones of murdered teenage girls.

Sky should have no customer base in Merseyside whatsoever.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 05:34 PM   #46
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The sun is the only news paper that doesn't make me want to kill myself.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 05:38 PM   #47
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I strongly recommend in that case that you read other newspapers.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 05:54 PM   #48
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Thanks.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 10:40 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallasey Dave View Post
Why not get BT vision?
Basically it is down to cost. Rather than base their pitch at cost plus profit BT has attempted to use Sky as the benchmark and subsequently there is no price incentive to move.

Sky is a monopoly with no competitor, however I see the cable vans are around and hopefully they will make it to the back of beyond.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 01:11 PM   #50
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I can't get all of the speakers at the Hillborough debate on YouTube, so I'm going to print the full debate from the records of Hansard. Here's the start of the debate:





Backbench Business

Hillsborough Disaster

17/10/11 5.42 pm

Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): I beg to move,

That this House calls for the full disclosure of all Government-related documents, including Cabinet minutes, relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster; requires that such documentation be uncensored and without redaction; and further calls for the families of the 96 and the Hillsborough Independent Panel to have unrestricted access to that information.

I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting today’s debate, following the incredible response to the Government online petition, which attracted 140,000 signatures in just a couple of weeks. It is because those people took the time to push the Government for the release of the Hillsborough documents that today we have the first ever parliamentary debate resulting from an e-petition—although, after a fight for justice which has lasted 22 years, even that minor concession was called into question following last week’s shenanigans in the Chamber.

I also thank colleagues for their fantastic support and response: almost 100 MPs from nine separate political parties supported our application to the Backbench Business Committee. This is a victory for democracy and a victory for people power, but it remains to be seen whether it will be a victory for the families. They have been let down so many times that they will not be surprised if there are those who would prefer for this simply to go away. For those who foolishly believe that that might be the outcome of today’s debate, let me make it absolutely clear: this issue will never just go away—not until there is justice for the 96.

During this debate, I will set out why I believe it is an important issue for this House to consider, albeit a bit late in the day, and outline why it is essential to press the Government on their commitment to release all papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster. All parts of the House should agree to the terms of the motion, but if they do not I intend to press the House to a vote. My hope is that common sense, and ultimately justice, will prevail.

I want to begin by setting out the context to the disaster, as there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what happened on 15 April 1989 and in the dark days, weeks, years and, ashamedly, decades that followed. There have been only a few occasions in my life when I have been completely overwhelmed by the emotion of the event that I was witnessing—the birth of my three wonderful children, the death of my beloved mum, and the loss of close friends and relatives. However, there is one other event that will live with me for the rest of my life, and that is the tragedy at Sheffield on that beautiful spring day 22 years, six months and two days ago.

Before 1989, Hillsborough was just the name of one of England’s famous old football grounds, but for the past two decades the word “Hillsborough” has evoked memories of Britain’s worst ever sporting disaster. It was a day when I helplessly watched frantic scenes as people who had travelled to see a football match, some mere children, lay injured and dying as they were pulled from the terraces. I was one of the lucky ones that day,

and all my close friends and members of my family returned home, although for one—our Lisa—it was touch and go whether she would survive. Thankfully, she did. This, unfortunately, was not the case for 96 men, women and children who were killed, and for hundreds of others injured and left permanently traumatised. The loss of 96 innocent lives was bad enough, but the tragic nature of their deaths was exacerbated by what happened next. Instead of those at fault taking responsibility for their actions, a co-ordinated campaign began to shift the blame and look for scapegoats. To this day, nobody has been held to account for Hillsborough.

A half-day debate, though welcomed, is not long enough to go into all the details of this gross 22-year injustice, so I will concentrate on the three main pillars of the accusations against Liverpool fans—namely, that thousands turned up late and ticketless, were drunk and aggressive, and broke down a gate, causing a catastrophic crush. Is it any wonder that some people have doubtful and distorted views as to the exact cause of the disaster when misinformation began almost immediately after the players were led off the pitch at 3.6 pm? The BBC and ITV news, that very afternoon, misreported what had occurred, and it is important to understand the effect that this had, as it formed the immediate public perception of Hillsborough. To fully understand what I mean, people will need to suspend their predisposition to believe the Hillsborough myths and listen to tonight’s debate with an open mind before jumping to conclusions. However, the faux pas committed in the immediate aftermath, when there was much uncertainty and a degree of confusion, pales into insignificance when one considers the malicious manner in which some sections of the press reported things, which still clouds thinking today.

At 3.15 pm, Graham Kelly, the then chief executive of the Football Association, went to the police control box, where he was told by the now-discredited match commander that Liverpool fans had rushed the gate into the ground, creating the fatal crush in the central pens. This was cowardice and deceit of the highest order, as the fact was that no gate had been rushed and that Duckenfield, the match commander, himself had personally ordered the gate to be opened. But this disgraceful lie set the tone for all that came later. At 4.15 pm, Kelly was interviewed by the BBC, and he told them that the police had implied to him that the gate had been broken down by fans to gain access. Notwithstanding the fact that there was absolutely no basis to these lies, Kelly allowed himself to be embroiled in this treachery, although he may simply have wished this version of events to be true, as by then he probably realised that the dysfunctional organisation that he headed up would, quite rightly, be criticised for its part in the unfolding disaster. Why did the FA not listen? I suppose we will never know. Without any evidence to back them up, those lies were reported by some news organisations and the story was flashed across the world as fact, repeating the line that drunken Liverpool fans had forced the gate open.

Just a few days later, before people had even had time to arrange funerals for their loved ones, The Sun newspaper infamously printed the banner headline, “The Truth”, on the personal instruction of its editor, Kelvin MacKenzie. It claimed that drunken fans had forced the gates open because they did not have match tickets, stolen from the

corpses lying around the pitch, assaulted police officers and the emergency services, robbed cameras and other equipment from press photographers, and urinated on police officers who were helping the victims. That was one of the cruellest blows.

It beggars belief that certain sections of the media still give air time to this most despicable man to vent his bile and mendacity. Given what he said about the Prime Minister the other day, even some Tories may now agree that this man is a pariah, as we on Merseyside know him to be. This is a man who preaches about free speech, but who dehumanised the deaths of 96 people for a cheap headline—what an absolute hypocrite!

Months later, the rag that that man edited admitted that the allegations it had made were totally false, but the damage had been done. To this day, the people of Merseyside do not buy that paper. It has taken the hackgate allegations about Murdoch’s News International for people to at long last sit up and take notice of the claims that we made 22 years ago and to think that there may be some truth to our allegations of collusion between the press, certain politicians and the police.

The actual loss of life from Hillsborough will never be known. Yes, we know that 96 people died as a direct result of the injuries that they sustained at the stadium, but many have died subsequently. Some have died, tragically, by committing suicide and others have simply died of a broken heart at the loss of their loved ones. However, I have been careful not to base my account of events on emotion. I have ensured that I have clear and referenced evidence to support all my contentions.

It is claimed that truth is the first casualty of war; the same can be said of Hillsborough. Misdirection, obfuscation and damned lies were all used as smokescreens to deflect attention away from the guilty. Institutional complacency and gross negligence, coupled with an establishment cover-up, have added to the sense that there was an orchestrated campaign to shift blame from those who were really responsible on to the shoulders of Liverpool fans. Many myths have been perpetrated about the events of 15 April 1989. Perhaps those will be addressed only when the Hillsborough independent panel, set up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), concludes its deliberations and reports back next year. It is important to give the panel all the pieces of the jigsaw so that it can complete a full and accurate picture of events.

So what are the facts about the Hillsborough disaster? I say to those who believe that it was simply caused by fans turning up late, you are wrong. You are wrong. In spite of a misprint on tickets requesting that fans turn up at 2.45 and despite the fact that Liverpool fans had only 23 dilapidated turnstiles through which to enter the ground, while Forest fans had access through 60, half of the 10,100 supporters were already in the ground before 2.30. There was congestion outside and with 5,000 supporters still to enter the ground at 2.30, it was obvious that the kick-off needed to be delayed. Anyone who has ever been to a match knows that there is always a higher entry rate as kick-off time approaches. Two years previously, there had been a delayed kick-off to allow fans to get into the ground, but not this time.

Instead, the response to the build-up in congestion outside was to open a gate and allow fans on to the concourse. That had disastrous consequences as there were no stewards or police officers inside to direct

supporters into the half-empty pens and away from the packed central pens. Signage was poor and the design of the Leppings Lane end meant that about 2,000 of that group made their way into the ground and headed straight for a tunnel marked “Standing”, which led directly to pens 3 and 4. That influx caused severe crushing and some fans began climbing over the lateral fences into the half-empty pens on either side to escape. It was later estimated that more than 3,000 supporters were admitted to the central pens—almost double the safe capacity. At five minutes past 3, a crash barrier gave way in pen 3, causing people to fall on top of each other. Cries to the police for help were audible, but they went unheard.

Another falsehood is the claim that these were ticketless fans. Even officers at the turnstiles rejected that. The Health and Safety Executive, which later analysed the evidence of everyone who entered at that end, concluded that the total number was between 9,373 and 10,124. The capacity was 10,100. The myth of ticketless fans can therefore also be dispelled. To confirm that and to leave no doubt, the Taylor report stated that there was no substance to the allegation that ticketless fans caused the disaster. Unfortunately, that smear still impairs and prejudices the thinking of some, because they have heard the apocryphal tale of ticketless fans so many times that they believe it to be true. Not only is it untrue; it is total rubbish. It is the sort of nonsense bandied around by those who are desperate to protect their own skins.

And how about the outrageous claims by Bernard Ingham, Mrs Thatcher’s press secretary? While the death toll was still rising, he stated that the cause was drunken fans and that Hillsborough would not have happened

“if a mob, clearly tanked up, had not tried to force their way in”.

I know that there are people, perhaps even some on the Government Benches, who actually believe that drivel because they have been fed it for two decades. I simply ask people to read the Taylor report. Alcohol was absolutely rejected as the cause of the disaster. Once again, it was a convenient excuse—an expedient opportunity to smear the fans and abrogate responsibility. The Liverpool supporters were no better or worse than any other football fans of the day. The fans of other teams should be saying, “There but for the grace of God go we,” because a similar tragedy could have befallen anyone at that time, particularly at that stadium, which did not even have a valid safety certificate. The Taylor report concluded that the great majority of fans

“were not drunk or even the worse for drink”.

However, Ingham’s view obviously influenced the Sheffield coroner, who inexplicably took blood alcohol levels from every victim, including Jon-Paul Gilhooley. Jon-Paul was 10 years of age—just a child. Drink was not the cause, but it was used to accuse and condemn, to impugn and reproach. It was, quite frankly, a con.

The cause of the Hillsborough disaster is there for all to see in the Taylor report, which concluded that the police fundamentally lost control of the situation and did not demonstrate the leadership expected of senior officers; that the failure to cut off access to pens 3 and 4 was a blunder of the first order; that safety procedures were inadequate and the ground was badly maintained and dangerous; that the fans were routinely treated with contempt by football; and that Liverpool fans had been the victims rather than the guilty party.

Lord Taylor’s reports, published in August 1989 and January 1990, dismissed the allegations against Liverpool supporters in relation to the disaster. Twenty-two years on, it is difficult to comprehend the enormity of the complete and utter breakdown of communication, or the inaction, by those charged with our safety. It is impossible to understand at a human level why those in authority simply stood idly by while ordinary football fans, without any emergency or medical training, organised themselves into stretcher-bearing squads to ferry stricken fans on advertising hoardings ripped from around the pitch and tried to give CPR to the stricken.

This was not a war zone. No battle had been fought, but we would not have guessed it from the scenes on the pitch. It was due to the Herculean efforts of ordinary fans—these same fans later besmirched by scandalous tabloid headlines—that the death toll was not even higher.

On the 20th anniversary of the disaster, I put on record my thanks to the ordinary people of Sheffield who opened their doors, in the days before mobile phones, to let fans call home to tell loved ones that they were safe. Tonight, both the leader and chief executive of Liverpool city council send messages of support from the people of Liverpool to those in Sheffield who helped on that dreadful day.

I am proud to be a Liverpudlian. In the 22 years for which the families have fought their dignified campaign, I and the rest of Britain have watched as my great city has come together on this issue. Out of the darkness of the Hillsborough tragedy, an eternal flame of unity has emerged and means that Liverpool is now synonymous with a unique kind of solidarity. Whether red or blue, we are Scousers all. To those who attempt to perpetrate the myth that it was the fault of the fans, I say that I will never tire of reminding them that the ordinary fans were the real heroes on the day, not the villains. They reacted while those in authority froze.

My granddad used to regale me with vivid accounts of the two world wars that he fought in, and while he never glorified in war itself he would explain to us children his sense of loss for fallen comrades, nearly half a century later. I did not really understand that when I was growing up, but I do now. It does not matter how long it takes, we will never stop fighting for justice for the 96.

A botched inquest, a flawed inquiry, a farcical review of evidence and a system that worked against, instead of for, the families, have left a bitter taste. An unsympathetic Government, an unsatisfactory judicial process and an unforgiving press have led observers to believe that an organised conspiracy was acting against the best interests of natural justice. We need the Government to act, and we need this House to support the motion, to ensure that there is no further backsliding on this issue.

The Prime Minister quite rightly apologised for a previous Government’s mishandling of events when he responded to the findings of the Saville report. Today, I call on the Prime Minister to make a statement in this House and apologise for the mistakes that were made and the mishandling of this whole tragedy on behalf of a previous Government. I also ask him to join me in pushing for the full disclosure of the senior police officer and the Conservative MP who allegedly leaked the story to the press, and in pressing for a front-page banner headline in

The Sun

newspaper admitting that it lied in April 1989, just as Kenny Dalglish demanded two decades ago.

We in Liverpool refer collectively to those lost at Hillsborough simply as “the 96”, but each of the 96 was an individual—a father, sister, brother, daughter, son; an irreplaceable person loved by others and with their own unique life story. “The 96” trips off the tongue far too easily. It is not until we read out each individual name on the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield that we realise just how long the list is. Parliament has never recorded their names in Hansard for posterity. Well, tonight, I can at least put one wrong right.

John Alfred Anderson, 62. Colin Mark Ashcroft, 19. James Gary Aspinall, 18. Kester Roger Marcus Ball, 16. Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, 67. Simon Bell, 17. Barry Sidney Bennett, 26. David John Benson, 22. David William Birtle, 22. Tony Bland, 22. Paul David Brady, 21. Andrew Mark Brookes, 26. Carl Brown, 18. David Steven Brown, 25. Henry Thomas Burke, 47. Peter Andrew Burkett, 24. Paul William Carlile, 19. Raymond Thomas Chapman, 50. Gary Christopher Church, 19. Joseph Clark, 29. Paul Clark, 18. Gary Collins, 22. Stephen Paul Copoc, 20. Tracey Elizabeth Cox, 23. James Philip Delaney, 19. Christopher Barry Devonside, 18. Christopher Edwards, 29. Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons, 34. Thomas Steven Fox, 21. Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10. Barry Glover, 27. Ian Thomas Glover, 20. Derrick George Godwin, 24. Roy Harry Hamilton, 34. Philip Hammond, 14. Eric Hankin, 33. Gary Harrison, 27. Stephen Francis Harrison, 31. Peter Andrew Harrison, 15. David Hawley, 39. James Robert Hennessy, 29. Paul Anthony Hewitson, 26. Carl Darren Hewitt, 17. Nicholas Michael Hewitt, 16. Sarah Louise Hicks, 19. Victoria Jane Hicks, 15. Gordon Rodney Horn, 20. Arthur Horrocks, 41. Thomas Howard, 39. Thomas Anthony Howard, 14. Eric George Hughes, 42. Alan Johnston, 29. Christine Anne Jones, 27. Gary Philip Jones, 18. Richard Jones, 25. Nicholas Peter Joynes, 27. Anthony Peter Kelly, 29. Michael David Kelly, 38. Carl David Lewis, 18. David William Mather, 19. Brian Christopher Mathews, 38. Francis Joseph McAllister, 27. John McBrien, 18. Marion Hazel McCabe, 21. Joseph Daniel McCarthy, 21. Peter McDonnell, 21. Alan McGlone, 28. Keith McGrath, 17. Paul Brian Murray, 14. Lee Nicol, 14. Stephen Francis O’Neill, 17. Jonathon Owens, 18. William Roy Pemberton, 23. Carl William Rimmer, 21. David George Rimmer, 38. Graham John Roberts, 24. Steven Joseph Robinson, 17. Henry Charles Rogers, 17. Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, 23. Inger Shah, 38. Paula Ann Smith, 26. Adam Edward Spearritt, 14. Philip John Steele, 15. David Leonard Thomas, 23. Patrik John Thompson, 35. Peter Reuben Thompson, 30. Stuart Paul William Thompson, 17. Peter Francis Tootle, 21. Christopher James Traynor, 26. Martin Kevin Traynor, 16. Kevin Tyrrell, 15. Colin Wafer, 19. Ian David Whelan, 19. Martin Kenneth Wild, 29. Kevin Daniel Williams, 15. Graham John Wright, 17.

Rest in peace. Justice for the 96. [Applause.]

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Old October 23rd, 2011, 01:18 PM   #51
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Hillsborough Debate Continued...




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Several hon. Members rose —

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. May we have brevity from the Front Benches? A lot of Back Benchers want to contribute. This is a very important debate to people and we have a lot of people in the Gallery who wish to hear it.

17/10/11 6.10 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): May I first commend the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram), who movingly marked the memory of the 96 who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster? He has brought to this House not just the voice of the families of those who were lost on that fateful day, but his personal experience, which I am sure will have an impact on the whole House.

Going to watch a football match is something that brings great joy to hundreds of thousands of British people every weekend, but on that fateful April day in 1989, it brought not joy, but tragedy. Parents and children and brothers and sisters who left their homes that day to watch a football match were never to return.

I have met some of the families of the 96 and heard directly from them about the impact of that terrible day. They have shown nothing but dignity; they have asked for nothing but the truth.

I also want to pay tribute to the support that the whole of the Merseyside community has given in the campaign for the truth. No words from the Government can ever even begin to make up for the loss of 96 cherished lives, but I want to send my deepest condolences to all those affected by the national tragedy of Hillsborough.

Let me say here and now, in this House and on the record, that as Home Secretary, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the families and the public get the truth. As a Government, we fully support the Hillsborough independent panel and the process that the panel is leading to disclose the documents telling the whole story. No Government papers will be withheld from the panel. No attempts to suppress publication will be made. No stone will be left unturned.

The previous Government were right to establish a disclosure process overseen and driven not by the Government, but by an independent panel chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool. I pay tribute to the work of the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton for the work they did to secure the establishment of that panel.

Following my appointment as Home Secretary, I announced the coalition Government’s full support for the process. I met the Bishop of Liverpool soon after coming to office so that he could give me an update on progress and so that I could give him my assurance of our support. I have also met the bishop subsequently so that he could keep me informed about the panel’s work.

The Hillsborough independent panel has three principal tasks: to oversee the disclosure of the documents to the maximum possible degree, which will initially be to the families; to report on its work, outlining the ways in which the information disclosed adds to the public understanding of the tragedy; and to make recommendations as to a permanent Hillsborough archive.

The principle underlying the process is that of maximum possible disclosure, and of disclosure to the families first and then to the wider public. This is difficult, sensitive and lengthy work, and it cannot be rushed. However, the aims of the process are, I believe, aims we can all agree on, and we should continue to uphold them.

As the Bishop of Liverpool has said, the dignity of the families should be matched by the dignity of this process. The families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in the way they receive the information, which brings me on to the reason for this debate.

The reason for this debate and for the motion behind it concerns the Cabinet Office’s decision not to disclose papers relating to the disaster in response to a freedom of information request from a BBC reporter. I want to state very clearly that the Government’s position has absolutely nothing to do with attempting to suppress the release of those papers or to somehow hide the truth. I am sorry that the way the Government responded to the FOI request caused anxiety among the families and concern on Merseyside and beyond.

The Government firmly believe that the right way to release the papers is through the Hillsborough independent panel—to the families first and then to the public. The families should have the papers, and they should not have them filtered through politicians or the media. We therefore support the Hillsborough independent panel and today’s motion. We want full disclosure to the panel of all documents relating to Hillsborough, including Cabinet minutes. Those documents should be uncensored and unredacted. Indeed, the full unredacted Cabinet Office papers on Hillsborough have already been made available to the panel. That includes minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet immediately following the disaster.

As the Prime Minister said in the letter that he sent to the right hon. Member for Leigh:

“Please let me reassure you that the Government is wholly committed to full disclosure of the Hillsborough information that it holds…As you will be aware, Cabinet papers, along with other relevant government papers, have been released to the Hillsborough independent panel. I am keen to ensure that the panel and indeed the families were treated with the utmost respect in this process. We have therefore proposed that the panel will ensure that disclosure takes place initially to the Hillsborough families, prior to wider publication.”

The Government are not seeking to avoid the publication of Cabinet minutes or any other Hillsborough papers. The Cabinet papers on Hillsborough can be published, and the Government will do nothing to prevent the panel from publishing them or indeed whatever it so decides. The panel will release the full picture of what happened at Hillsborough, but in a way that is respectful of the families.

The panel’s terms of reference envisage minimal redaction to avoid junior officials’ names and addresses being published; to avoid signatures being available for copying; and to ensure that the Data Protection Act is not breached. It might also be necessary to redact sensitively private and personal information specific to the victims. However, it will be the role of the panel to ensure that any redactions are kept to a minimum.

The principle is clear: full publication and minimal redaction, and the panel seeing all of the papers, uncensored and unredacted—as the families have rightly demanded: the whole loaf, not snippets. I stand ready to do anything I can to aid the independent panel in completing its task.

Hillsborough was a terrible tragedy—a tragedy that must never be repeated. As the Bishop of Liverpool has said, the disaster and its aftermath inflicted a deep wound in the body of the Merseyside community which remains to this day. The families of the 96 deserve the truth. That is why we fully support the Hillsborough independent panel; why all Government papers, including Cabinet minutes, have been made available to the panel with no restrictions on access; and why the Government support this motion.

Last edited by Portobello Red; October 23rd, 2011 at 01:23 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 01:22 PM   #52
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Hillsborough Debate Continued...



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17/10/11 6.18 pm


Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): We are here tonight because 139,815 people have asked this House to revisit events 22 years old. They are right, because those events concern one of the biggest injustices of the 20th century. For 22 years, the Hillsborough families faced insults and had obstacles placed in their way at every step as they pursued their dignified campaign for truth and justice.

Recognising that, a call for full disclosure was made on the 20th anniversary. That has gathered momentum ever since, and this summer it was supported by people from all over the country and supporters of all football clubs. That was an incredible statement of solidarity with those families, who have faced a hard and, at times, lonely struggle. However, it did something else: it sent the clearest of messages to everyone in a position of authority that the families have suffered far too much, and that the whole truth about Hillsborough must finally be told.

Tonight, the Home Secretary has made an unequivocal commitment to full disclosure, echoing the words of the Prime Minister in his letter to me. We thank her for that. The fact that there is now agreement between all parties across the House shows the watching world that this is not about party politics but about the fundamental rights of victims and their families.I should also like to thank the Home Secretary for leading the Government’s response to the debate tonight. That sends an important signal to the families who have travelled to be here, and to the thousands of others watching closely at home who have been deeply affected by the tragedy. The right hon. Lady might have expected to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) opposite her tonight, but my right hon. Friend has graciously allowed me to respond for the Opposition, given my personal involvement in these matters. I thank her for that.

I want to begin by addressing this simple question: why are almost 140,000 people asking us to do more? There have certainly been other disasters in which concerns have remained long after the event. As with other disasters, there are things about Hillsborough that people will find shocking, such as the fact that the ground did not have a valid safety certificate, as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) mentioned. But something else makes Hillsborough stand apart. Has there ever been, and will there ever be, another tragedy at which, within minutes, an orchestrated campaign began to blame the victims, their families, friends and fellow supporters? That is precisely what happened there. It is unprecedented in the recent history of our country, and an unbelievable act of brutality against 96 families already suffering unbearable grief. As one bereaved mother said:

“We soon realised that we weren’t only in a fight for justice for those who died but also to clear their names and the names of the fans who lived”.

Those are words that no mother in her position should ever have had to say.

The first damaging lie about Hillsborough came even as people lay dying, not long after 3.15, from a senior public servant, the officer in charge on that day. Chief Superintendent Duckenfield told the then chief executive of the Football Association that Liverpool fans had forced gate C, as my hon. Friend said. That was not true; he had given permission for the gate to be opened. Professor Phil Scraton wrote in his brilliant book, “Hillsborough—the Truth”:

“Graham Kelly unwittingly…repeated Duckenfield’s lie to the waiting media. Within minutes, it was broadcast to the world: an appalling disaster was happening, and Liverpool fans were to blame.”

Sadly for the families, that set the level for what was to follow. Blood alcohol levels were taken from the victims, including children, as they lay dead in the gymnasium at Hillsborough. By today’s standards, that is an unthinkable intrusion into the private grief of the families. As the families arrived at Hillsborough later that day to identify loved ones, they were subjected to police questioning as though they, and the deceased, were suspects. In the ’80s, the authorities could get away with that type of behaviour—people just had to put up with it—but by today’s standards, it is truly shocking.

There was much worse to come, however. Days later, the most sickening lies imaginable were briefed by public servants to newspapers throughout the land. It was a brutal campaign to set public opinion against the supporters and to pre-empt the public inquiry that was to be carried out by Lord Justice Taylor. Let me remind the House that Taylor found that hooliganism played no part in the Hillsborough disaster, and that the main reason for it was the “failure of police control”. Yet even today, people talk about Hillsborough in the context of hooliganism. Casual allegations are still made about drunkenness and disorder. The fact that this still happens, 22 years on, is testimony to the power of the poison in those police briefings to the media. It is also clear that efforts were made not only to shape public opinion but to shape the way in which evidence was presented to the inquiries that would follow.

We hope that the House will tonight give the Hillsborough independent panel the full power and authority to tell the whole truth about Hillsborough, but there are already documents in the public domain that provide clear evidence of the efforts that went on to present events in a certain way. I want to share some of them with the House tonight, as they will help to explain to people who perhaps have not followed every detail down the years why so many people still feel so strongly about this, as we do.

In the House of Lords, there are files containing the original personal statements of police officers who witnessed these terrible events at first hand. They are hard to read, so distressing are the scenes they describe. One in particular stands out, and I have it with me this evening. It is the handwritten statement of police constable No. 227 from Woodseats police station. These are his recollections of the crucial moments just after 3 pm on 15 April 15 1989:

“I realised at that time that a great tragedy had occurred. I began to feel myself being overcome with emotion, but soon realised that I would be of no use to anyone if I felt sorry for myself. I was assisted out of the terracing and onto the pitch. I saw several officers wandering about in a dazed and confused state. Some were crying and some simply sat on the grass. Members of the public were running about with boarding ferrying people from the pitch to the far end of the ground.”

PC 227’s words evoke the haunting TV images that people were later to see replayed time and again. There can be little doubt of their sincerity, but they are not the only words on the page. Attached to the top right corner of the statement is a note from a senior officer. It reads:

“Last 2 pages require amending. These are his own feelings. He also states that PCs were sat down crying when the fans were carrying the dead and injured. This shows they were organised and we were not. Have the PC re-write the last 2 pages excluding the points mentioned.”

In the cold light of 2011, those are truly shocking words. They go to the heart of the untold story of Hillsborough. The unforgettable words

“they were organised and we were not”

transport us straight back to a very different time: an era of “them and us”, when football supporters were considered to be the “enemy within”. It is as though the officer was describing a battle for supremacy between two sides rather than the immediate aftermath of a terrible tragedy.

I do not think that it is widely understood that the personal statements of police officers were collected and amended in that way, outside the normal procedures. That is why the panel’s work and its report are so important. They will mean that the rest of the country will finally see what the Hillsborough families were up against, and what they have known for years. PC 227’s statement was not the only one that was amended. Many more were, in order to portray events in a certain way, removing references to police failure on the day such as the lack of proper radio communications.

Hillsborough belonged to an entirely different era, predating the Freedom of Information Act, when public bodies held all the power. As a result, it is still not known who was responsible for the efforts to amend statements, the level at which that was endorsed in the South Yorkshire police, and the extent to which the then Government supported the police strategy of blaming the supporters. I say this not to make a political point. This is crucial to understanding how and why the police case against the supporters came to gather such potency, pre-empting the public inquiry.

Another area that I hope will be illuminated by the disclosure process is the 3.15 cut-off imposed by the coroner, and the way in which the inquests were subsequently organised. It is impossible to overstate the significance of this to the families, as the effect of it was to compound earlier injustices that they had faced. It means that they have never had the opportunity properly to test all the evidence and information about their loved ones, or to find out if any more could have been done for them. One of the individuals admitted to hospital recovered, challenging the theory that irreparable damage was done in all cases by 3.15. Indeed, there is medical evidence from one of the doctors who treated victims on that day which was never properly heard. The 3.15 cut-off was cruel. It was also crucial, because it denied the families the right properly to challenge the inaccurate claims that had been put around about their loved ones.

I am setting out these issues this evening because many of them will not be widely known around the country. They explain why the sense of injustice about Hillsborough and its aftermath on Merseyside has never diminished. They were the reason that, together with

my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) I made the first call for full public disclosure in April 2009, days before the memorial service on the 20th anniversary.

As the Home Secretary said, this led to the establishment of the Hillsborough independent panel, and I appreciate the continued support that she and her Government have provided to that panel’s work. At the time it was established there was an unresolved debate within government about whether or not Cabinet minutes and other documents should be published. I have always been of the firm opinion that they should, but because there was no agreement, the terms of reference allow the panel only to view rather than publish the material.

I knew we would have to come back to this issue; that duly happened in the summer when the Information Commissioner ruled on the BBC’s freedom of information request. I said then that I believed the commissioner’s ruling should have been immediately accepted by the Government and proposals developed to fulfil it, working through the panel with disclosure to families first. I have no doubt that the Government were acting to protect the integrity of the panel and the interests of the families and not—the Home Secretary made this point—to prevent disclosure. As I said in my letter to the Prime Minister, however, the Government’s handling of their response to the commissioner risked undermining public trust in the panel and the disclosure process.

The Home Secretary has this evening removed any lingering doubt and put the Government’s commitment to full disclosure firmly on the record. We thank her for the clarity of her words, but for the avoidance of doubt, does she agree that there might be a case for issuing the Hillsborough independent panel with updated terms of reference, reflecting the clear will of this House tonight? That might also present an opportunity to set out the Government’s position on any redactions to disclosed material. I believe that there should be a clear presumption of no redactions to any material. I am told, and the Home Secretary repeated it, that there might be highly personal medical information that it would be illegal to put in the public domain under the Data Protection Act. If that is the case, may I ask her to ensure that any redactions have the full support of the panel and may I suggest that they be made to any documents only with the agreement and support of the Hillsborough families?

I would like to assure the Home Secretary that the Opposition fully support the Government’s policy of handling all disclosures through the panel and making them available to the families first. The Opposition urge both the Information Commissioner and the BBC to accept that as fulfilment of the ruling. Disclosure is important, but it is only part of the panel’s crucial work. It has also been asked to make sense of it all, producing a report on how what is disclosed adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath. That is hugely important. It means that the whole story and its full impact will finally be told. That is why I support the Government’s position not to release documents now in a haphazard and unco-ordinated way, but when the whole picture is put together and all the pieces are in place.

I wish to deal now with material held by private bodies and its potential disclosure. It is possible that there are documents and material held by private
organisations that will be highly relevant to the work of the Hillsborough independent panel. I understand that Sheffield Wednesday football club and the Football Association have both co-operated with the panel, and I thank them for that.

Clearly, however, there are other private organisations that will have material that might help the panel’s work. The first is Hammond Suddards, the solicitors for the South Yorkshire police. It was involved in the preparation of police officers’ statements, and, indeed, the amendment of them, and the handling of the inquest. The second is News International. In The Guardiantoday, Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough family support group, has called on the company to reveal the sources of the deeply hurtful front page of Wednesday 19 April. It was claimed that Liverpool supporters—my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton mentioned this—pick-pocketed victims, urinated on police officers and attacked an officer giving the kiss of life.

It is important to say that The Sun was not the only newspaper to carry inaccurate and deeply hurtful lies. Allegations on the same theme were reported by the Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Mail and Yorkshire Post , all using unattributed quotes from police and Police Federation sources. Lord Justice Taylor commented in his report on how they were not substantiated by a single witness. For people in public positions to disseminate such offensive untruths certainly breaks professional ethics and is possibly a criminal act. It might have happened 22 years ago, but the pain caused by those lies is still felt today.

Does the Home Secretary share my view that Margaret Aspinall is right to assert the families’ right to know who gave those briefings and with what authorisation? I hope she will agree with me that media organisations, and particularly News International, should be approached by the panel and encouraged to hand over any material that might reveal who made these claims. It is my belief that the British public, following the revelations about phone hacking, will see Hillsborough in a new light. That, too, is a story of unacceptable collusion between police and the press, working against the wider public interest, and it, too, must be fully exposed, with those responsible held to account.

In conclusion, 140,000 voices have swept Hillsborough back to the Floor of this House tonight, but we would not be here if it were not for the courage and determination of the families. Soon, they will be able to rest, knowing that they could not possibly have done more for their loved ones. I pay tribute to the Hillsborough family support group—to Trevor Hicks, Phil Hammond and Margaret Aspinall; to Hope for Hillsborough, and to the Hillsborough justice campaign for keeping the flame alive for the 96.

I have not seen the files. I do not know what they will reveal, but I am already clear about one thing—that, after a tragedy on this scale, the denial of families’ rights and the denigration of their friends and fellow supporters is a national scandal. When the panel reports, it will require an appropriate national response.

I can remember 15 April 1989 as if it were yesterday. I was at Villa Park for the other FA cup semi-final. Many of my friends were at Hillsborough. Twenty years later, I agonised about whether to attend the memorial service as a Government representative. No issue matters more to me, and I was worried that I would not be able to

keep my composure before the Kop, but I also had my own private disappointments that my own Government had not done enough to help those families. I look back on my decision to go as the best decision I have made in my life because the reaction of people on the Kop that day told the rest of the country that there was a deep and unresolved injustice.

That night, I met the families at Liverpool town hall. I promised them full disclosure, that the whole truth would be told. Tonight, to have the entire House united behind them in that call and behind those families is a huge moment. Part of the painful truth of Hillsborough is that none of us, no political party, did enough to help. This time, we must not let them down.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 01:28 PM   #53
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Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I remind the House that we have an eight-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches. I want to ensure that everyone who wants to participate gets in, so any additional brevity during speeches will be welcome.


6.37 pm

Esther McVey (Wirral West) (Con): This debate has been a long time coming. The journey to get here has been a long, painful fight led by the families of the 96 victims, the people of Liverpool, the local papers—the Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo —and football supporters. The support and the quest for answers have not diminished. Instead, they have gathered momentum over time. The family voices have stayed firm; the commitment to loved ones has been unshakeable. Finally, the families are here today to see this debate, so let us make sure that every politician of every party does right by them, allowing them complete access to all material—unedited and unredacted—so that they can understand what happened, and have answers and closure, perhaps a little peace, but most of all so that they can have some truth about what happened on 15 April 1989.

People say Liverpool is a close-knit community, but is so much more than that. It is an extended family, and it is the compassion and the passion of the people of Liverpool that have supported the families in striving for the truth. When people talk of Hillsborough, they speak as though everyone from the city knew somebody there that day, and in a way they did. My cousins were there—safe, yes, but when a call came to the crowd, asking whether any police, medical staff or officers could come and help, my cousin stepped forward. He was one of those people, one of the fans asked to help the injured and to identify people. It was that help that was so cruelly and inaccurately misrepresented in the tabloids.

The Prime Minister accepted that the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath has left a deep wound on Merseyside. He has given an unqualified commitment to full disclosure of files relating to what happened. He agreed to this before today’s debate, but I still believe it is important that we are all here today, that this tragedy is given the importance it deserves and that voice is given to the 145,000 e-petitioners who voted in favour of today’s debate in the House. They want full disclosure, and they want all the families to have the final, ultimate say in what happens to the information.

An independent panel of experts, academics and archivists, headed by the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, has been appointed to oversee and make sense of the volume of documents. The families—those who have suffered most—must now be supported by the panel and by Government.

The political journey has come full circle. In too many instances, questions have been ducked. It has taken 22 years, and I want to be part of a Parliament and a Government who do right by the families who have carried so much pain for so long.

Let me close my speech by saying that it is time for words to come to an end. It is time for action. It is time to release all those documents in their entirety.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 01:31 PM   #54
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17/10/11 6.40 pm

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): Let me first say a big thank you to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham). I was at the 20th anniversary commemoration service at Anfield, and I know that that was a very emotional occasion for my right hon. Friend. I think that he felt the rawness tenfold—knowing how the families, Liverpool fans and others felt about an injustice that has continued for over 22 years—and I think that he did well to get through his speech and deliver his message on that day. I want to record my thanks for what he did, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle). As I have said, it was an emotional occasion. There were 30,000 people in the stadium that day. I have been going to such commemoration services for many years, but that occasion demonstrated the depth of support for the families, and for the securing of the truth and justice that we all seek.

I was present at the Hillsborough disaster. I drove to the ground that day with three friends. As was recalled by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram), it was a beautiful sunny day, and we were looking forward to a good match—one of many good matches that we had seen as Liverpool supporters. One could never have imagined how the event would end. As we approached the stadium we sensed that something was wrong, and indeed the chaos had already started outside the Leppings Lane end. We witnessed mounting chaos around the turnstiles. When we eventually managed to pass through them, our tickets were not checked. There was no organisation and no policing. As I have said, it was complete chaos.

I watched the disaster. I was in the north stand, and my three friends were at the Leppings Lane end. I felt somewhat let down because I did not have a ticket for Leppings lane. I would normally stand up in the Liverpool Kop, but for some reason I had ended up with a stand ticket, which meant sitting down, and I felt that I had lost out. Of course I did not know what was about to happen, and I did not know what had happened to my three friends in Leppings lane until some time later.

As I have said, I watched the whole horror of the disaster unfold in front of me. It was obvious well before 3 pm that pens 3 and 4, the middle pens, were full, but on either side of them the stand was empty. I will not go into the details, because we have been through them back in 1998 and since, but it beggars belief that the police and those responsible could not see what was happening. It had to be seen to be believed. Then, of course, we saw the disaster unfold.

The horror of that day will always live with me, but I did not lose my life, and nor did anyone personally known to me. The families, however, are in a completely different position. I recognise the dignified and determined way in which they have pursued their fight for justice, in spite of the terrible slur perpetrated by the police, with the help of certain sections of the press, in blaming Liverpool supporters for the disaster. Those families have my deepest respect. It is their love for their loved ones, and their burning desire to put a wrong right, that have kept them going for 22 years. Imagine 22 years of fighting this! It is quite unbelievable—but they still have the energy and drive to see this through. One person could not be here tonight. He said that he was tired and would not be here: he wanted to save his energy, so that he could see the conclusion of the campaign and see that justice was done.

Imagine finding out that your loved one had died in that terrible disaster, or been badly injured, and reading or hearing shortly afterwards that that person and his fellow supporters were being blamed for it. It is almost unimaginable that, notwithstanding the grief and trauma that those families were going through, those reports should unfold in the next few days. As has been said, several newspapers were involved, but I think that a headline in The Sun caused the most distress and upset. It is difficult for those who were not personally affected to appreciate the impact of that headline. The fact that police officers were involved as well was disgraceful. The distress caused by all that cannot be overstated.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh said, the 3.15 pm cut-off point is crucial, because nothing that happened after that time was taken into consideration. We know that people were alive then, and, as my right hon. Friend made clear, that is an issue for some of the families. It was an unbelievable decision. Dozens of ambulances were not allowed into the stadium, and it was also unbelievable that that was allowed to happen. As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton pointed out, it was Liverpool supporters who led the rescue mission, if I can call it that, carrying bodies and injured people away from Leppings lane outside the ground.

I welcomed the Home Secretary’s statement about the independent panel. There was some discussion about the establishment of the panel, and there was a good deal of mistrust among the families because of all that had happened previously, but they went along with the process and became involved in detailed negotiations with the Government. I was asked by Liverpool and Merseyside Members of Parliament to represent them in those negotiations, which required considerable hard work. The panel’s primary aim is to ensure the recording and orderly release of the documents, which—this is crucial—must be shown to the families first. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh knows, we managed to ensure that the production of a report was included in the agreement. That report will be crucial to the process of putting the truth in the public domain, and enhancing our understanding of the events and information relating to the disaster.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s unequivocal commitment to full disclosure, but will the Minister confirm that it will include the advice on which the Director of Public Prosecutions based his decision not to prosecute any senior police officers? Will it also include the reasons for moving an experienced match commander, Chief Superintendent Mole, a few weeks before the semi-final and replacing him with Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was relatively inexperienced in the policing of football matches?

I think it important for Ministers, and the Government generally, to tread carefully, because there have been some problems. I know that what the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said about hooliganism was taken out of context, but the fact remains that it caused a great deal of distress to the families. Moreover, last week’s debacle involving the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) almost scuppered tonight’s debate. We need careful planning and thinking about how this matter should be dealt with from now on.


The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Mr Jeremy Hunt): As the hon. Gentleman has referred to comments that I made, may I take this opportunity to apologise to the House—as I have to the families—for those comments? What I said was sloppily worded, it caused great offence, and I hugely regret it. The families were incredibly generous in accepting the apology that I made to them.


Derek Twigg: I know that the Secretary of State did not mean his remarks in the sense in which they were portrayed. I gave that example, along with last week’s, to emphasise that all this must be dealt with sensitively. The families have been through so much, and sometimes things have been wrongly said, have not been done or have been glibly avoided.

I want to put on record my thanks to the people of Sheffield. What lives with me is the memory of queues of supporters outside residents’ houses—and I mean queues: not two or three people, but 10, 20 or 30—who were allowed to use those residents’ telephones to let their families know that they were OK, and were given cups of tea. That was tremendous. The contribution and support of the people of Sheffield should be on record, and is one of the images that live with me to this day as I recall walking back from the ground. We want justice for the 96, and we want to make sure that all this information is released and that the families can see it first; that is crucial. We also want the Government to consider very carefully the report that will be produced, and to respond in a positive way that ensures that the families know both that everything possible has been done to get the information out and that their fight has not been in vain.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 01:34 PM   #55
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17/10/11 6.50 pm

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): I begin by congratulating, on behalf of, I think, all of us here today, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram). None of us can hope to match his eloquence, passion, persistence and, frankly, the raw emotion he has displayed today. I first knew him as a very effective mayor of Liverpool city council, and he has today proved to be a very effective champion of his area and of Merseyside as a whole. I want to thank him for associating me with his efforts in making the all-party applications; this has been an all-party endeavour. I also want to mention the hon. Gentleman’s predecessor, Peter Kilfoyle. Even though he was a lifelong Evertonian, he did a lot of work for this cause in the House.

I should declare an interest. I am a Liverpool FC supporter. My entire family came from Liverpool, and I grew up there, although I had the misfortune originally, as a child in a city that was oozing football success, to be taken every Saturday to Knotty Ash to watch our one and only rugby league team get beaten repeatedly week after week—thereby amply preparing me for life as a Liberal.

I think I understand the Liverpool character as well as most. A history that has often been quite brutal has endowed that character with two marked traits. The first is a profound emphasis on social solidarity. People have learned to depend on each other—on family and neighbourhood. That was beautifully summed up by Bill Shankly in the following quote, of which I have a copy in my office:

“the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day.”

The second major trait has also been forged by a hard history. It is a lack of reverence—a suspicion and questioning of authority and all the pomposity and cant that often underpins it. That is the reason why Liverpool produces so many comedians. It is a feeling that the world is not necessarily on our side—and, indeed, often it is not, especially for those who spend their time questioning authority, and the pomposity and the cant underpinning it.

Hillsborough was a terrible tragedy for Liverpool. At the time I was a councillor in Sefton, and we outside the immediate Liverpool area lost many people. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to show that things could be different, but what happened? As expected, there was a massive, deeply impressive show of solidarity, and it continues, confirming that this is the city where the way forward is not “walking alone” and where social solidarity is important. The people were, however, let down by the powers that be: the national media, including The Sun, about which much has been said today; those in the legal system, about which we have not said as much as we ought to have done; and the police—we have mentioned Duckenfield—who tried to shift blame. Some—but not all—of them perpetuated, relied on or were diverted by prejudices, not just about football supporters but specifically about Liverpool football supporters. That was the case both knowingly and, sometimes, unknowingly, and explicitly and implicitly. Unsurprisingly therefore, there has been no closure. The narrative not only of what happened but of how different people told—or tried to tell in order to fix—that narrative has never been fully before us.

I genuinely believe that we get better inquiries and inquests if the people running them are prepared to look at their limitations and flaws. We get better reporting if the media at least acknowledge their failings. We also get better policing if the police openly account for their wrongdoing and the error in their own ranks. Truthfulness at all levels is the path to improvement.

Mr Dave Watts (St Helens North) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman may be aware that I lost a close friend, David Hawley, in the Hillsborough tragedy. I have something to say about the fact that someone in the media, Kelvin MacKenzie, said what he said and then repeated it. The general public have severe doubts about whether the press should allow such people to continue to follow their profession. Does the hon. Gentleman feel that special attention should be given to dealing with journalists who do these sorts of things?

John Pugh: I am aware from books written on this topic that certain people in the offices of The Sun questioned Kelvin MacKenzie about his decision on that day.

Liverpool people are not stupid; they know there are good and, sometimes, not so good men in all uniforms. They know that judges are likely to spend more time at Twickenham than on the football terraces so do not necessarily have adequate knowledge of the latter. They know that lawyers can be, and have been, both cynical and noble in addressing this issue. They know that football supporters also come in all shapes and sizes, and that everyone has their prejudices. The antidote to all that, however, is not reports and procedures; rather, it is a single-minded pursuit of the truth. The antidote is not a narrative that suits one or another group or institution, or even one that allows all interests to make peace.

Liverpudlian John Lennon’s song “Gimme some Truth” puts this point most simply. One verse—I am unsure whether it applies to any Member who is present—states:

“I’m sick and tired of hearing things

From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites

All I want is the truth

Just gimme some truth”.

The full truth will not necessarily make everything right again. The horror that was Hillsborough will recede in time, even though for some it is, of course, relived every day. However, we owe it to them and the victims to ensure that what passes into history is not a myth or a convenient narrative, but is, so far as is humanly possible, the true and full account of the events.

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Old October 24th, 2011, 10:14 AM   #56
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17/10/11 6.56 pm

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) on securing, along with others, this debate and on the manner in which he opened it. It is an important part of the long and determined campaign to secure truth and justice for the 96, and it is a crucial step in the effort to secure the release of further important information. From the beginning, when this horrendous tragedy occurred, truth has been withheld. Tonight, we have heard that there was a police briefing to mislead the public by deliberately distorting the facts, and to do so by promulgating the grotesque untruth that Liverpool fans were responsible for the tragedy on that dreadful day.

Lord Taylor’s report was a full judicial inquiry into what happened and it made it clear that the major cause was police failure on the day and that that should be considered against the backdrop of the failure to deal with public safety—there was the astonishing discovery that no safety certificate had been issued at Hillsborough—and the failure to have and implement an emergency plan to deal with any public disaster. As we have heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), evidence has also come to light—from documents revealed as a consequence of the scrutiny undertaken by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith—that the original police eyewitness statements describing what they saw at the time were later changed by their seniors.

There have been further disclosures showing further withholding of essential information. The coroner’s decision to have a 3.15 pm cut-off on the assumption that all deaths would have occurred by then resulted in vital information being withheld, and major concerns were raised about the conduct of the inquest and mini-inquests.

When discussing this issue, it should always be remembered that nobody has been brought to account. The Director of Public Prosecutions in 1990 decided that the tragedies arose from “accidental” deaths and he stated that there was no evidence to prosecute any corporate body and insufficient evidence to prosecute individuals. Two police officers were named as culpable, but they both retired before any disciplinary action could be taken.

Recognition of the need for urgent disclosure lay behind the important decision of December 2009 to set up the independent panel chaired by the highly respected and trusted Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones. The fundamental principle of that panel was the

“full disclosure of documentation and no redaction of content, except in the limited legal and other circumstances outlined in”

a full terms of reference and

“disclosure protocol.”

Today’s debate goes a little further than that. It seeks full disclosure, including of what specific briefing might have been given to the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, when she visited Hillsborough the day after the disaster. The motion also calls for the release of Cabinet papers that discussed the tragedy. I fully support the primacy of the panel and the families, which has been mentioned by the Home Secretary tonight. However, I would like to know how she views the importance of that primacy in relation to the terms of reference already stated and to her commitment that there would be full disclosure and that the Government would not attempt to prevent the publication of anything that the panel and the families wanted to be disclosed.

The Hillsborough tragedy killed 96 people and has had a profound effect on families and on the community. Lost lives cannot be regained, but the bereaved families have waited too long for the full truth. They deserve no less than the truth, and the correct decision today, together with the Home Secretary’s statement, can take us all a lot nearer to achieving that.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 10:55 AM   #57
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Hillsborough Debate Continued...



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17/10/11 7pm


Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): For the families of all those who tragically lost their lives on 15 April 1989 and all those still traumatised by the events that unfolded before them that day, today is another milestone in their arduous pursuit of justice. I commend the solidarity shown by all who have enabled this debate to take place. Their quest for truth must not be hindered any longer.

As the Member of Parliament for the City of Chester, a city with close ties to our neighbours on Merseyside, I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the residents of my constituency whose lives were irreversibly changed by the tragic events in Sheffield 22 years ago. Many people from Chester were at Hillsborough that day and there are many heartbreaking stories and memories. One of the stories is that of the Rogers family. Seventeen-year-old Henry Rogers and his 19-year-old brother Adam were both at Hillsborough. Henry died in the disaster and Adam, who survived the crush, died just six months later after falling into a hyperglycaemic coma as a result of diabetes. Their parents, Steve and Ronnie, whom I have known for about 10 years due to their tireless involvement in the local community in Chester, recall how Adam was unable to talk about what happened in the months following his brother’s death. Although it was diabetes that took their eldest son from them, Steve and Ronnie maintain that Adam died of a broken heart. For the Rogers family, who are members of the Hillsborough family support group, and the hundreds more affected by Hillsborough, questions surrounding the deaths of their loved ones have remained unanswered for 22 years.

A second constituent, Mrs Ann Williams, who is watching this debate from the Gallery, lost her 15-year-old son, Kevin. Mrs Williams has campaigned tirelessly to discover the truth surrounding her son’s death and is patron of the Hope For Hillsborough charity and campaign group. Like those of many others, Mrs Williams’ campaigns have centred on the decision taken by the coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, to pronounce that all the victims of the disaster had died by 3.15 pm from compressive asphyxia. However, witness statements at the time highlighted the fact that Kevin was still showing signs of life at 3.55 pm, calling out for his mother. Many families of the victims are still angry at the 3.15 pm cut-off point, which meant that the inquest was unable to consider the response of the police and the other emergency services after that time. Having had three requests to the Attorney-General for a new inquest into Kevin’s death refused, Mrs Williams submitted her case to the European Court of Human Rights, but in 2009 that attempt was scuppered by the Court, which declared that her application should have been lodged within six months of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith’s scrutiny in 1997. Like so many others, Mrs Williams hopes that the release of the papers will cast new light on the events that truly occurred before, during, and after Kevin’s death.

This is not the first time Kevin Williams has been mentioned in the House; an Adjournment debate entitled simply “Kevin Williams” was held on 26 October 1994, in which the former Member for Crosby, Sir Malcolm Thornton, said:

“It was inevitable that judgments would be made on the spot which perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight and of considering the matter after some years had passed, should not and certainly would not have been made. But what is there to hide?”—[Official Report, 26 October 1994; Vol. 248, c. 978.]

Seventeen years after Sir Malcolm asked that question, and 22 years after Kevin’s death, we still do not know the answer. What is there to hide? It is now time for that question to be answered.

We are united in this House in recognising that all the papers must be released, but the manner in which they are released is of equal importance. A drip-drip release of information is dreaded by many of the victims’ families, who fear that snippets of selected information will hit the headlines, creating a feeding frenzy in the press and potentially distorting the overall picture that the release of papers is intended to piece together. The Hillsborough independent panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, is the only legitimate vehicle
through which this information should be initially released. A large quantity of the information will be extremely sensitive, as it details the deaths of many families’ loved ones, so the families must be allowed to make sense of the information before it is released to the general public. Furthermore, a conscious effort must be made by the independent panel to include all the families in the process. With a number of different groups supporting the families of those affected, including the Hillsborough family support group, the Hillsborough justice campaign, and Hope for Hillsborough, I would like to stress the importance of ensuring that all the families are kept informed of the progress of the independent panel and of the disclosure of the panel’s findings. We must not allow the families to experience any more unnecessary anguish, and we must grant them the dignity that they so rightly deserve.

To that end, I support the Government’s position on the BBC’s freedom of information request, which could lead to the Cabinet papers bypassing the independent panel and being released immediately. The BBC submitted the FOI request with the best of intentions, but now that the Cabinet Office has recognised the overriding public interest in releasing all the papers to the panel, the BBC should recognise that its FOI request has achieved its objective and that the documents should be released only through the independent panel.

As I have said, the events of that fateful day in the spring of 1989 have lived long in the memories of those who so sadly lost their loved ones—they will never be forgotten. Although the release of the information contained among the mountain of unpublished papers is undoubtedly in the public interest, the interests of the families and survivors of Hillsborough are now the most pressing concern. For their sake alone, clarity is of the utmost importance. I believe that that can be achieved only by allowing the Hillsborough independent panel to conduct its investigation. Once the families have been given the opportunity to digest the panel’s final report, and only then, the documents must be widely and publicly disclosed.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 09:22 AM   #58
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Hillsborough Debate Continued...



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17/10/11 7.08pm


Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood) (Lab): I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) on his superb effort in securing this debate and on his incredibly powerful opening speech. I also wish to thank the 140,000 people who signed the e-petition, which so strengthened my hon. Friend’s hand when he attended the Backbench Business Committee to argue for time to have this debate on the Floor of the House.

This subject is of massive importance to my constituents, to Liverpool football fans, to football fans generally, to the city of Liverpool and to Merseyside as a whole, as shown by the fact that all the Merseyside MPs supported my hon. Friend’s proposal that time be found, on a votable motion on the Floor of the House, to consider the full disclosure to Hillsborough families, unredacted and uncensored, of all Government-related documents, including Cabinet minutes. The release is a matter of enormous importance to the bereaved families of the 96 people whose deaths were caused on that day and to the survivors of the disaster.


I was one of two Ministers who called for full disclosure and publication of all existing documentation relating to the Hillsborough disaster on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy in 2009, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham). The incredible show of solidarity and dignity at the Anfield memorial, which I also attended that year, as well as the chants for justice that interrupted my right hon. Friend’s speech on that occasion, led to the establishment of the Hillsborough independent panel. To achieve that, my right hon. Friend and I were able to push behind the scenes in government to overcome some obstacles in Whitehall, although in my view the terms of reference leave a little to be desired. I hope the process, ably led by the Bishop of Liverpool, who knows what a dark shadow the tragedy still casts across the city, will finally bring everything that can now be known and every document that now exists, 22 years after the event, into the public domain, unredacted by officialdom.

I thank the Home Secretary for her positive and clear commitment to full disclosure this evening. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have agreed to the release of all documents and it is of enormous importance that Parliament should vote to call for unredacted and uncensored release and publication of all Government papers, including Cabinet minutes and papers.

I believe that the Hillsborough disaster and the circumstances surrounding it are a unique case that justifies unique action. Let me briefly set out why. The Hillsborough disaster was not an accident. It could and should have been avoided. It was caused by a failure of police control: that was the finding of Lord Justice Taylor in his interim report just four months after the disaster. Why, then, do so many people still talk of hooliganism?

South Yorkshire police failed spectacularly in their duty on 15 April 1989, but rather than admit it they spent years trying to blame the Liverpool fans who attended the match and the victims for what had happened. That was an orchestrated, sustained and deliberate campaign to blacken the names of the victims and of Liverpool supporters who attended on that day to enable South Yorkshire police to evade their responsibility. As a consequence, the Hillsborough families have had to endure one of the most disgraceful campaigns of official skulduggery, hostility and lies of any victims’ families whom I know. It began on the day of the tragedy and continued for years and even now it has left families feeling understandably distrustful and suspicious of officialdom.

South Yorkshire police’s failure to accept responsibility and their ongoing efforts to deflect blame, which lasted for years after Taylor’s verdict, mean that there are huge amounts of misinformation, which the families keep having to correct. Twenty-two years after the event, the families should not still be having to defend their relatives who died from the lies and innuendo that appear every time the disaster is discussed in the public arena. It is as well to remember that one of the first things that senior officers in charge on that day did was lie about why the gates at Leppings Lane were opened, in order to cover up their culpability.

Inexcusable police behaviour continued on that day. Police refused to allow ambulances that might have saved lives into the ground because they were treating it like a riot, not a disaster. They treated families who arrived on the scene to look for missing relatives as if they were criminals. They blood-tested the dead for alcohol—even children—but there was worse to come. South Yorkshire police briefed The Sun that the victims had caused the crush and that fans who merely sought to assist the injured and dying were stealing from them and urinating on them—vile and untrue smears that heaped appalling distress on top of unbearable sudden bereavement. It is about time we knew who gave those stories to

The Sun

and I join the families today in calling on News International to tell us.

As if that were not enough, South Yorkshire police quickly established what I referred to in a debate in this House in 1998 as a “black propaganda” unit, which systematically set about altering police statements in an attempt to influence Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry into the causes of the disaster. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh read from one of them; I have read them all. This was no less than a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. One cannot read all the statements, amended, unamended and annotated by police lawyers and police, and come to any other conclusion. It failed mainly—and really only—because they did not have time to complete the job and unamended statements were sent to Taylor. Taylor then gave his finding, but instead of taking notice of Lord Justice Taylor’s clear finding and his equally clear rebuke, South Yorkshire police kept the black propaganda unit in place and simply set about persuading the South Yorkshire coroner of their story, preferring to try to engineer historical revisionism rather than to face up to the fact that they were at fault and found to be at fault by the Taylor inquiry.

Despite all that disgraceful behaviour, the chief constable did not resign. The two senior officers in charge on that day were retired on medical grounds and with large pensions to avoid their having to face disciplinary action. No one responsible has ever had to account for the loss of control on that day or for the extended quite despicable behaviour that followed for years thereafter. Indeed, one member of that black propaganda unit, responsible for the smears, is a serving chief constable to this day: Sir Norman Bettison. No wonder the families are suspicious of officialdom, no wonder they do not ever quite believe that what they are told will happen will happen and no wonder they want Parliament to support them by voting for them to see all documents unredacted and uncensored. I believe that a vote in this House for full publication will strengthen the hand of the Hillsborough independent panel in any discussions that it might need to hold with the Government about ultimate publication of all the material produced to it.

Although prompted by the Government’s reaction to the Information Commissioner’s ruling that Cabinet minutes should be produced, this important debate will allow Parliament to make its views clear, on a votable motion, about what it expects to be disclosed. Parliamentarians should take the chance to say clearly: we are with the families, who must see everything, and there must be no more suspicions of sinister official manoeuvring to prevent the full truth of the disaster from coming out, as there has been too much of that. That is all the families want and we must help them to get it by voting in favour of this motion.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 09:26 AM   #59
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Hillsborough Debate Continued...



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17/10/11 7.16 pm


Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): I congratulate those who have campaigned so effectively to secure this debate. Specifically, I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram), who has been a feisty campaigner on this issue. I know that many of my constituents are grateful for his efforts, as am I. I also pay tribute to the families of the 96 who have made the journey down today.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate and I am particularly anxious to do so for several reasons. First, I am a passionate football fan. I am a lifelong Manchester United supporter and a former season ticket holder, and I have gone to watch a huge number of games in my lifetime. I have stood on windswept terraces, inside the so-called “cages”, and I have seen at first hand some of the appalling crowd management by both police and ground staff at stadiums. To my mind, this really was the definition of a disaster waiting to happen. As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton said, there but for the grace of God go I.

Since the tragedy at Hillsborough, we have come a long way, with all-seater stadiums, greater police planning and much smarter ground management and layout. Clubs have also taken on much more responsibility and have recognised their duty to improve safety. It is vital, however, that we learn all the lessons and get all the facts so that we avoid such appalling tragedies happening again. I still go to watch Manchester United as often as I can and now my children are starting to get old enough to come with me. I want to ensure that we have learned the lessons of Hillsborough so that my children will be able to enjoy the unique magic of match day in the safest possible environment.

The second reason I am so keen to speak is that I have been contacted by a large number of constituents who have urged me to support the campaign to release all documents. I am the only Member of either coalition party to represent a seat on the Mersey estuary. A substantial proportion of my constituents, especially those living in Runcorn, are originally from Liverpool, or, at the very least, their parents are from Liverpool. Many are die-hard Liverpool fans. Many have friends or family who were affected by the tragedy and they want to make certain that the full facts are made available so that bereaved families get the full picture and we can fully understand what happened.

I share the wishes of my constituents and I want to see the papers released. I am pleased that the Government have restated their commitment to full transparency and are happy for the papers to be released as soon as the Hillsborough independent panel decides to do so in consultation with the bereaved families. Given that Cabinet records are normally withheld for 30 years, I think that shows the Government’s real dedication to openness in this case and their willingness to help resolve any unanswered questions. I also agree with Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough family support group, that it is right that the papers are shared first with the families before being released to the wider public.

Although it is important that the documents are released, they are only a small part of the truth about Hillsborough. It is essential that the Hillsborough independent panel, which is expected to examine up to 2 million documents as part of its extremely important work, considers all the facts. We must recognise that that is no easy task and we should be patient, but we need to have the truth. I look forward to the panel’s eventual report and to the release of the Cabinet papers. I remember that fateful day in April 1989 as though it were yesterday and I hope that I never see such a tragedy again.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 06:41 PM   #60
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Murdoch and news international have been a terrible blight on our country and theyve done the same in the US.I hope they get driven into the sea.
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