NEWS
12/09/2012 08:02 BST

Hillsborough Tragedy: Families Of 96 Killed See Released Documents, Believe Police Cover-Up

An apology from Prime Minister David Cameron would pave the way for more officials to express regret for the first time over the way the Hillsborough tragedy unfolded, an MP who attended the fateful match has said.

Steven Rotheram, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, swapped his Leppings Lane ticket for a seat in the stands 15 minutes before kick off.

He told the Huffington Post UK: "Cameron must apologise today if he is any sort of statesman. So many apologies are due, and none have been received."

A fan remembers the Hillsborough tragedy

The Prime Minister is expected to give a statement about the tragedy during Prime Minister's Question Time on Wednesday lunchtime, as the families of the 96 people killed at the FA Cup semi-final have begun viewing for the first time thousands of official documents relating to the disaster.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel is overseeing the release of previously unpublished papers from around 80 organisations including the government, police, emergency services, Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire coroner.

A report explaining the contents of the documents will be published by the panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones.

MP Steve Rotheram has been a long-time campaigner for the release of the Hillsborough documents

The families of the 96 football fans who died in Britain's deadliest sporting disaster are the first to see more than 400,000 pages.

The findings are said to be "monumental" and will show police tested the dead bodies of fans for alcohol and checked if they had criminal records.

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

The club today offered an apology to the families and said it hoped the documents would bring them "closure".

A memorial to the 96 outside Liverpool's Anfield Stadium

A statement from Sheffield Wednesday said: "Chairman Milan Mandaric and the current board of directors have adopted a policy of complete compliance with the requests of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and on behalf of the club would like to offer our sincere condolences and an apology to all the families who have suffered as a consequence of the tragic events of 15 April, 1989."

Mandaric took over in December 2010 and the statement added the club had been "totally transparent" in helping the report be compiled.

It added: "Sheffield Wednesday FC welcomes the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report and would like to acknowledge the enormous amount of hard work by all involved during what was, and continues to be, an extremely emotive process.

"Throughout the compilation stage, the club has worked closely with the panel and the other donating organisations to ensure that, in line with the ethos of maximum disclosure, we have been totally transparent.

"Sheffield Wednesday would also like to record its gratitude for the thoroughly dignified manner with which the Hillsborough Family Support Group and its representatives conducted themselves throughout all levels of consultation with the club.

"We can only hope that the publication of the report goes some way to providing the closure sought by all those involved."

Liverpool fans scrambling to escape the crush in 1989

Relatives and survivors began arriving at Liverpool Cathedral from 8am where they met members of the panel and viewed the documents.

Speaking earlier, Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said they hope the documents will answer some of the questions they have about the causes and aftermath of the tragedy.

"This is what the families and the fans have been fighting for 23 years. Without the truth you cannot grieve and where

there is deceit, you get no justice," Mrs Aspinall, 65, said.

Prime Minister David Cameron will address MPs in the House of Commons following PMQs and the documents will be uploaded to a website for viewing by the general public.

A report into the disaster by Lord Justice Taylor, published in 1990, found that the main reason for the disaster was a failure of "police control" but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.

The victims' families say it is an injustice that no individual or organisation has been held fully accountable for the disaster.

They believe a major incident plan was never initiated by South Yorkshire Police and fans in the Leppings Lane end were denied emergency medical attention.

The families also dispute the findings of an inquest into the deaths, which ruled that the victims were all dead, or brain dead, by 3.15pm and which subsequently recorded a verdict of accidental death.

It is expected the families will meet in the coming days to decide what action to take, if any, following the disclosures.

They are being advised by two of Britain's best known lawyers, Michael Mansfield and Lord Falconer.

The panel was created by then home secretary Jacqui Smith following the 20th anniversary of the disaster in April 2009.

Central to the panel's work is to prepare and publish a comprehensive report based on in-depth research into the documents to "add to public understanding of the tragedy, its circumstances and its aftermath".