Hillsborough cover-up: Cameron says sorry for 23 years of lies
Vindication for Liverpool as PM admits 'double injustice' of police failures and institutional cover-up
DAVID CAMERON has issued a "profound" apology to the relatives of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster for the "double injustice" they suffered after an in-depth review of events surrounding the tragedy found that Liverpool fans "neither caused nor contributed to" the tragedy.
The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel (RHIP), published today, concluded that a "failure in police control" was the main cause of the crush that claimed the lives of 96 people at an FA Cup semi-final in 1989. But the report also found that "multiple failures" of other organisations compromised crowd safety and that there were attempts by the police and ambulance services to cover their mistakes in the aftermath of the disaster.
The report states that 116 of the 164 police statements submitted after the disaster were "amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to South Yorkshire Police", and the Prime Minister admitted there had been attempts to "impugne the reputations" of those who died.
The revelations promoted Cameron to issue a double apology this afternoon to the victims' families for "the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth" and also for the "denigration of the deceased".
The Attorney General will now consider applying to the High Court to reopen the inquests into the deaths, which in 1989 returned a verdict of accidental death.
Those inquests heard no evidence from after 3.15pm on the afternoon of the tragedy, based on the belief that all those who died were beyond hope by that time. However, the report claims that 41 people could still have been saved.
The reaction to the RHIP report on Twitter has been one of relief and anger. "This is not about party politics. The whole political class failed the victims, families and survivors," said Labour MP and staunch Evertonian Andy Burnham.
"Just sat alone, read the report and cried my eyes out," wrote Joey Barton, who has campaigned on behalf of the victims' families. "I don't know how anyone could do this to innocent people. It’s wrong on so many levels."
Some called for action to be taken against those who tried to blame the dead. "Every perpetrator of the Hillsborough cover-up and all those guilty of negligence need to face the rule of law they helped corrupt for 23 years," tweeted Paul Hayward of The Daily Telegraph.
Sheila Coleman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign told The Liverpool Echo: "We have got to the truth but where is the justice? That is what is crucial now. It will be even more frustrating if nothing else happens.
"Where I am disappointed is there was no mention of Margaret Thatcher, Bernard Ingham or Colin Moynihan or the government's role in the cover-up. The Thatcher government is getting away scot-free.
"It was truly shocking to hear people could have been saved," she added, calling for the inquest verdicts to be overturned. "There are so many shocking aspects. But the fans were totally vindicated."
Chris Bascombe at The Daily Telegraph wrote: "The chant of 'justice' has been heard on The Kop for 20 years. [It] has been sung with the venom you'd associate with the issue of an unconditional demand.
"When it is next chanted, it can be done so as a statement of fact, as an observation of the most important victory anyone associated with Liverpool has ever won, and yet one which requires solemn gratitude rather than celebration."
The report also shatters preconceptions about Liverpool. "Those who sniggered at the justice campaigners as cranks and conspiracy theorists must be aghast. The myth of self-pity city is truly smashed," said Tony Evans of The Times. "Hillsborough is the biggest cover-up in British history and it has been exposed because of the strength of families and those around them. It was driven by a complete absence of self-pity."