Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Hillsborough cover-up laid bare

A copy of the report delivered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel is read at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral
Prime Minister David Cameron's statement is watched at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral

A damning report into the Hillsborough disaster has laid bare a shocking cover-up which attempted to shift the blame for the tragedy on to its victims.

The families of the 96 Liverpool fans killed 23 years ago said the report had vindicated them but pledged to carry on their fight by pursuing criminal prosecutions against those who they said should "hang their heads in shame".

Prime Minister David Cameron led a chorus of apologies - including from former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, current Sun editor Dominic Mohan and the South Yorkshire Police (SYP) Chief Constable - and said that Attorney General Dominic Grieve will review the report as quickly as possible in order to decide whether to apply to the High Court to quash the original, flawed inquest and order a new one.

Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died in a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15 1989 where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

Introducing the report to the Hillsborough families at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, Bishop James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool and chairman of the panel, said: "The documents disclosed to and analysed by the panel show that the tragedy should never have happened.

"There were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and in its aftermath there were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame onto the fans. The panel's detailed report shows how vulnerable victims, survivors and their families are when transparency and accountability are compromised."

Hillsborough Families Support Group chairman Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters at Hillsborough, said they would now press for criminal action against those involved in the disaster, adding: "The truth is out today, justice starts tomorrow."

Mr Hicks said the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report revealed shocking "depths of depravity" in the way the police tried to blame the fans after the disaster.

He said the report showed that "possibly as many as 41 people might have survived" if the disaster had been better handled.

He also rejected the "profuse apologies" offered by Kelvin MacKenzie, who was the editor of The Sun when it ran a front page story blaming fans for Hillsborough. Mr Hicks said Mr MacKenzie's words were "too little, too late", calling him "lowlife, clever lowlife, but lowlife".

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