18 October ~ Thousands of frustrated campaigners, survivors, family members and Liverpool residents have moved one step closer to the truth they have been seeking for so long, as MPs have agreed to release all government documentation relating to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
The recent e-petition requesting full government disclosure of relevant documentation was signed by almost 140,000 people, including high-profile former and current players as well as current Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who was also in charge of the club at the time of the disaster. It is expected that the disclosure of the papers and information is to be shared with the affected families before becoming public.
It seems apt that today's Conservative government is being urged to make amends for the way its predecessors mishandled the tragedy in 1989, as prime minister David Cameron has been asked to make a public apology for the way in which it was dealt with under Margaret Thatcher's control.
Organisations such as the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hillsborough Family Support Group have been seeking the truth ever since Liverpool fans were falsely accused by sections of the print media of inciting violence and causing the incident themselves, when in actual fact, the subsequent Taylor Report revealed that the primary cause was a lack of crowd control by the police.
This raises the question: why has it taken almost 25 years since the tragedy for the relevant documentation to finally be released? On one hand, Cabinet papers are not usually published until 30 years after they have been written. However, since the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act (1998), groups now have the ability to request their early release with necessary reasoning. Thanks to the recent e-petition and subsequent pressure placed on the government, this was the case.
On the other hand, the pain and anguish the delay has brought to the lives of bereaved relatives and survivors suggest that this development is long overdue. Speaking at the House of Commons debate, Steve Rotheram, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, rightly called the decision a "victory for democracy and people power".
While nothing can truly put an end to the suffering and anger that must still consume the affected supporters and families, the recent agreement for the release of the 40,000 documents is a step in the right direction for those who have long sought answers for what they believe to be a horrendous miscarriage of justice. One certainly hopes that the relevant information is not filtered before becoming public. Oliver Woods