SECRET Government and police files on the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 football fans lost their lives will be handed to the bereaved families of the victims in 12 weeks’ time.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel said yesterday it is “approaching the completion of its work” and will meet with the bereaved families in Liverpool on Wednesday, September 12, to reveal its findings, before publishing its long awaited report into the tragedy.
The panel has spent the past three years trawling through more than 400,000 pages of documents from 80 different organisations, in an effort to finally provide full disclosure about the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium on April 15, 1989.
Ninety-six Liverpool fans were killed in a crush at the Leppings Lane end of the ground after South Yorkshire Police failed to manage the crowd properly as they arrived for an FA Cup semi-final match.
Senior police officers were subsequently accused of attempting to smear the fans in the press in an bid to hide their own culpability.
The bereaved families have fought a 23-year campaign for justice and hope the independent panel will at last be able to give them the answers they have been waiting for about what happened.
The panel said yesterday it hoped that announcing the publication date now would “give the bereaved families sufficient time to prepare for the disclosure”.
Its announcement was welcomed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who said: “The Government is fully supportive of the work of the independent panel.
“The panel’s work has been detailed and complex, but the Government is pleased that it will complete its work by the autumn.”
The panel was set up by the previous Labour Government after widespread anger in Liverpool was made clear on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.
It is chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool and its members include journalists, academics, archivists and law experts.