I was in the chamber yesterday for the Prime Minister’s statement on Hillsborough. The atmosphere that descended was so quiet and reflective, such a marked changed from the raucous Prime Minister’s questions which proceeded it, that you couldn’t help but realise the enormity of what David Cameron was saying.
He highlighted three areas where the report had concluded there were failures by the police and emergency services on the day, the police during the investigation when they attempted to cover up their mistakes and blame the victims and the official inquest which failed to adequately consider all the facts.
The PM also revealed that the coroner had tested all victims, including children, for the presence alcohol. There was no justification for this other than to attempt to find something that could smear the victims and put the blame for their deaths at their own door.
In a similar vein, the police ran the names of the victims through the National Police Database to find information that could be used to tarnish them.
- The ground was unsafe. Known safety deficits were not tackled
- The police briefed the media in a way which implied the tragedy was caused by hooliganism, alcoholism and a conspiracy between fans to arrive late at the game, many without tickets. The panel found what the Hillsborough families and many others have long known, that this was not true.
- 164 police statements were altered to reflect what they were briefing.
- 116 statements explicitly removed negative statements of the police
- The coroner has wrong when he stated all victims had died by 3.15pm:
o 28 people did not suffer asphixiation.
o 31 people had heart and lung injuries that could, if help had arrived quicker and been better allocated, have been treated.
- The Sun was wrong. Their sickening accusations about the behaviour of Liverpool fans were untrue and had no basis in fact.
Whatever happens next, whether the Attorney General decides to ask the High Court to quash the original inquest and hold a new one and regardless of the outcome of the parliamentary debate to be held by the Home Secretary in October, I hope that the release of these documents can bring comfort to the Hillsborough families.
The victims were not to blame.
Some could have been saved.
The families always knew this and now, finally, the documents released reflect that.