Details of PM’s meetings in aftermath of Hillsborough tragedy must now be released
DOCUMENTS detailing discussions held with Margaret Thatcher in the aftermath of the Hillsborough football disaster must be made public, the Information Commissioner has now ruled.
The government has been ordered to release the files about the tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool fans died, in the public interest. The Commissioner’s judgement states the information ‘would add to public knowledge and understanding about the reaction of various parties to that event, including the Government of the day, in the early aftermath.’
The documents detail what went on in various briefings held with the then Prime Minister in the days following the disaster. The records to be disclosed include reports presented to Mrs Thatcher, correspondence between her office and that of Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, and minutes of the meetings she attended.
The Liverpool supporters were killed in an appalling crush of fans within the Penistone Road stadium, where their team was playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.
An inquiry found the main reason for the overcrowding was the failure of police control. Some campaigners for the families of the victims have suggested that Mrs Thatcher sought to avoid criticism of the police.
In December 2009 the Labour government set up an independent panel to review the documentation about the Hillsborough tragedy to assess what should now be made public. The Cabinet Office maintained that no material should be disclosed before the panel finishes its work, planned for next year. But the Commissioner discarded this as irrelevant, since the panel had not existed at the time the original request for the information was made.