Petition sparks disaster discussion

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POLITICIANS will hold a debate in the House of Commons today on whether the Government should release key documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The debate is the first to be sparked by new rules which mean any online petition that attracts more than 100,000 signatures should be discussed by Parliament.

More than 140,000 people have backed the call for files to be released detailing ministers’ discussions over the tragedy.

The Government has already indicated that, if the cabinet papers were to be released, they would first be given to the families of the 96 people who died.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel already has hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday’s football stadium.

Deputy PM Nick Clegg said he agreed the papers should go to the ‘families who are still grieving for their loss in that terrible, terrible tragedy’.

In the Commons last week Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis asked whether Mr Clegg supported the release of ‘all, unredacted and uncensored Government documents’ over the tragedy, and Mr Clegg replied: “Yes I very much do. It is very important we get to see all the relevant papers.”

Campaigners have called for the release of documents showing how then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet responded to the disaster at an FA Cup semi-final at the Sheffield stadium.

Mr Clegg said: “It seems to me we should first allow the families who are still grieving for their loss in that terrible, terrible tragedy, to be able to look at those papers before they are fully published.”

Speaking later, Mr Jarvis said: “I’m delighted the Deputy Prime Minister has had the guts to do the right thing. I hope the Prime Minister will follow suit and support the release.

“We must remember the most important and most heartbreaking fact is the families of the 96 people that died 22 years ago are still waiting for answers. That can’t be right. It’s about finally getting some form of justice for the families.”