The world knows the truth: Dalglish and Gerrard join Liverpool owner Werner in hailing Hillsborough justice
17:12 GMT, 12 September 2012
Hillsborough disaster report
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Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has said 'the world has heard the real truth' about the Hillsborough disaster.
The publication of the Hillsborough
Independent Panel's report revealed South Yorkshire Police had sought to
blame fans by instructing officers to change or amend their statements
relating to the events of April 15, 1989, when 96 fans died.
Prime Minister David Cameron
apologised to the families of those affected, stressing to the House of
Commons that the findings had shown fans were not at fault.
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The panel: Raju Bhatt, Sarah Tyacke, Paul Leighton, Peter Sissons, Bishop of Liverpool James Jones (Chairman), Phil Scraton, Bill Kirkup, Christine Gifford and Katy Jones
Werner said: 'On behalf of myself,
John (Henry, club owner) and everyone at the club, I would like to
extend our thoughts and prayers on this hugely significant and deeply
emotional day to everyone affected by the Hillsborough disaster.
'Today the world has heard the real truth about what happened at Hillsborough.
As a football club, we will continue to remember those who died and
support the families who lost loved ones on that terrible day.
'We hope that today's findings will
give some comfort to the families and survivors and go some way to
addressing some of the key questions that have hung over the
Hillsborough tragedy for the last 23 years.'
The club also welcomed the publication of the panel's findings.
A statement on the club's website
read: 'Liverpool commends the Hillsborough Independent Panel report
which acknowledges the avoidable catastrophic failures before, during
and after the disaster.
'The club also welcomes the Prime
Minister's apology to the families and survivors on behalf of the
Government and await the Attorney General's pending review of the
Joy and pain: Steve Kelly of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign with the report and a floral tribute at Anfield
'After 23 long and painful years, our fans have finally been fully exonerated of all blame.
'Today, the world knows what we have
always known, that Liverpool fans were not just innocent on that
terrible day but that there was reprehensible and hurtful
misrepresentation of the truth.
'Liverpool Football Club would like
to thank the Hillsborough Independent Panel for its rigorous work over
the past two-and-a-half years and for publishing a comprehensive report
based on the in-depth research and analysis into hundreds of thousands
Former Liverpool manager Kenny
Dalglish has added his voice to the many welcoming the publication of
the truth about the Hillsborough disaster and calling for justices for
the families affected.
'Very positive outcome. 23 yrs waiting for the truth next step justice,' Dalglish wrote on Twitter.
And Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard,
whose 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was among the Hillsborough
dead, also added his voice to those welcoming the report's findings.
Day of destiny: Families of the deceased depart the Cathedral after hearing news from the report
'The courage and dignity shown by the Hillsborough families and survivors is an example to all of us,' the England captain said in a statement on the club's website.
'For 23 years they have fought for truth and justice on behalf of the victims and survivors of this terrible tragedy and all Liverpool supporters.
'Victims and survivors suffered not just on April 15, 1989 in Sheffield, but for over two decades afterwards with the shameful slandering of their actions by people who abused their position and power.
'Speaking as someone whose family directly suffered, I know the pain and hurt will remain. However, I hope that today's report helps bring some comfort, now that everyone knows what happened on that day.'
Earlier in the day, the Prime
Minister offered a 'profound' apology to the families of
the 96 people who died, telling the House of Commons that the report
made clear that 'the Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster'.
Injustice: Prmie Minister David Cameron left the Commons in no doubt the fans were not to blame
Mr Cameron 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. It will be for the court to make the final
He told MPs: 'With the weight of the
new evidence in this Report, it is right for me today as Prime Minister
to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have
suffered over the past 23 years.
'On behalf of the Government – and
indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice
that has been left uncorrected for so long.'
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:
'For nearly a quarter of a century the families of the 96 and the
survivors of Hillsborough have nursed an open wound waiting for answers
to unresolved questions. It has been a frustrating and painful
experience adding to their grief.
'In spite of all the investigations
they have sensed that their search for truth and justice has been
thwarted and that no-one has been held accountable.
Solidarity: Staff at Everton's club shop decorated a kit with a message for their friends across Stanley Park
Statement: The Hillsborough Independent Panel make public their findings
'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 their were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame onto
'The panel's detailed report shows how vulnerable victims,
survivors and their families are when transparency and accountability
'My colleagues and I were from the start of our work impressed by the dignified determination of the families.'
He added: 'The panel produces this
report without any presumption of where it will lead. But it does so in
the profound hope that greater transparency will bring to the families
and to the wider public a greater understanding of the tragedy and its
'For it is only with this transparency
that the families and survivors, who have behaved with such dignity,
can with some sense of truth and justice cherish the memory of their 96
In its summary the panel said: 'It is
evident from analysis of the various investigations that from the
outset South Yorkshire Police sought to deflect responsibility for the
disaster on to Liverpool fans … there is no evidence to support this
Momentous day: The Prime Minister's statement is watched in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral
'Everyone involved in the cover up of Hillsborough is a disgrace and need (to be) punished' – Wayne Rooney.
'Remember being in Barcelona watching the tragedy unfold. 23 years on we learn the truth. 23 YEARS!! A national disgrace!' – Gary Lineker.
'Justice For The 96 To the familes,hold your heads high today,you were right. You'll Never Walk Alone.' – Stan Collymore.
'To an awful lot of people now you understand why we couldn't just get over it' – Phil Thompson.
'Sad day this is in British history. Hopefully, the annals of history are corrected. So that all those to come know the real truth… JFT96… Not the *truth* that has been forced upon you for 23 years by the mainstream media and its puppets. The actual truth of what happened… Just sat alone, read the report and cried my eyes out. I dont know how anyone could do this to innocent people. Its wrong on so many levels… Everyone that signed the epetition. Anyone that ever voiced doubts over what the media told them or stood for the 96 and their families… Should be proud of themselves today. Be proud of what YOU have forced the government to do. Well done all involved. @HJC-Official JFT96' – Joey Barton
The documents also reveal the 'extent
to which substantive amendments were made' to statements by South
Yorkshire Police to remove or alter 'unfavourable' comments about the
policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
They went on to say the wrongful
allegations about the fans' behaviour later printed in some newspapers,
particularly The Sun, originated from 'a Sheffield press agency, senior
SYP officers, an SYP Police Federation spokesperson and a local MP'.
The panel said the Police Federation,
'supported informally by the SYP Chief Constable', sought to develop
and publicise a version of events derived in police officers'
allegations of drunkenness, ticketless fans and violence.
'The vast majority of fans on the pitch assisted in rescuing and evaluating the injured and the dead,' the panel said.
The panel said their report raises 'profound concerns about the conduct and appropriateness of the inquests'.
The documents go on to reveal the
original pathologists' evidence of a single, unvarying pattern of death
was 'unsustainable', the panel said. The families have always disputed
the accidental verdict which followed the inquest into the deaths.
The report found that 116 of the 164
police statements identified for 'substantive amendment' were 'amended
to remove or alter comments unfavourable to SYP.'
One police officer said he only
accepted the changes because he was suffering from post-traumatic stress
and that he considered it an injustice for statements to have been
'doctored' to suit the management of South Yorkshire Police, the report
VIDEO: Hillsborough Panel findings. 41 could have been saved…
VIDEO: David Cameron statement to families of the Hillsborough victims
Tragedy: The events in South Yorkshire changed the face of football in England forever
Prime Minister's Hillsborough statement in full
Today the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Reverend James Jones, is publishing the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
The disaster at the Hillsborough football stadium on 15th April 1989 was one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century.
96 people died as a result of a crush in the Leppings Lane Terrace at the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
There was a public Inquiry at the time by Lord Justice Taylor which found – and I quote – that the main cause of the disaster was 'a failure of police control'.
But the Inquiry didn't have access to all the documents that have since become available, it didn't properly examine the response of the emergency services, it was followed by a deeply controversial inquest, and by a media version of events that sought to blame the fans.
As a result, the families have not heard the truth and have not found justice.
That is why the previous government – and in particular – the Rt Hon Member for Leigh was right to set up this Panel.
And it is why this government insisted that no stone should be left unturned and that all papers should be made available to the Bishop of Liverpool and his team.
Mr Speaker, in total over 450,000 pages of evidence have been reviewed.
It was right that the families should see the Report first.
As a result the government has only had a very limited amount of time to study the evidence so far.
But it is already very clear that many of the report's findings are deeply distressing.
There are three areas in particular.
The failure of the authorities to help protect people.
The attempt to blame the fans.
And the doubt cast on the original Coroner's Inquest.
Let me take each in turn.
FINDINGS: FAILURE OF THE AUTHORITIES
First, there is new evidence about how the authorities failed.
There is a trail of new documents which show the extent to which the safety of the crowd at Hillsborough was 'compromised at every level'.
The ground failed to meet minimum standards and the “deficiencies were well known”.
The turnstiles were inadequate.
The ground capacity had been significantly over-calculated.
The crush barriers failed to meet safety standards.
There had been a crush at exactly the same match the year before.
And today's report shows clearly that lessons had not been learnt.
The report backs up again the key finding of the Taylor Report on police failure.
But it goes further by revealing for the first time the shortcomings of the ambulance and emergency services response.
The major incident plan was not fully implemented.
Rescue attempts were held back by failures of leadership and co-ordination.
And, significantly, new documents today show there was a delay from the emergency services when people were being crushed and killed.
FINDINGS: ATTEMPT TO BLAME THE FANS
Second, the families have long believed that some of the authorities attempted to create a completely unjust account of events that sought to blame the fans for what happened.
Mr Speaker, the families were right.
The evidence in today's report includes briefings to the media, and attempts by the Police to change the record of events.
On the media. Several newspapers reported false allegations that fans were drunk and violent and stole from the dead.
The Sun's report sensationalised these allegations under a banner headline 'The Truth.'
This was clearly wrong and caused huge offence, distress and hurt.
News International has co-operated with the Panel and, for the first time, today's report reveals that the source for these despicable untruths was a Sheffield news agency reporting conversations with South Yorkshire Police and Irvine Patnick, the then MP for Sheffield Hallam.
The Report finds that this was part of police efforts – and I quote – 'to develop and publicise a version of events that focused on – allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence.'
In terms of changing the record of events, we already know that police reports were significantly altered but the full extent was not drawn to Lord Justice Taylor's attention.
Today's Report finds that 164 statements were significantly amended – and 116 explicitly removed negative comments about the policing operation – including its lack of leadership.
The report also makes important findings about particular actions taken by the police and coroner while investigating the deaths.
There is new evidence which shows that police officers carried out police national computer checks on those who had died in an attempt – and I quote from the report – 'to impugn the reputations of the deceased'.
The Coroner took blood alcohol levels from all of the deceased including children.
The Panel finds no rationale whatsoever for what it regards as an 'exceptional' decision.
The report states clearly that the attempt of the inquest to draw a link between blood alcohol and late arrival was 'fundamentally flawed'.
And that alcohol consumption was 'unremarkable and not exceptional for a social or leisure occasion'.
Mr Speaker, over all these years questions have been raised about the role of the government – including whether it did enough to uncover the truth.
It is certainly true that some of the language in the government papers published today was insensitive.
But having been through every document – and every government document including Cabinet Minutes will be published – the Panel found no evidence of any government trying to conceal the truth.
At the time of the Taylor Report the then Prime Minister was briefed by her private secretary that the defensive and – I quote – 'close to deceitful' behaviour of senior South Yorkshire officers was 'depressingly familiar.'
And it is clear that the then government thought it right that the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire should resign.
But as the Rt Hon Member for Leigh has rightly highlighted, governments then and since have simply not done enough to challenge publicly the unjust and untrue narrative that sought to blame the fans.
FINDINGS: ORIGINAL CORONER'S INQUEST
Third, and perhaps most significantly of all, the Bishop of Liverpool's report presents new evidence which casts significant doubt over the adequacy of the original Inquest.
The Coroner – on the advice of pathologists – believed that victims suffered traumatic asphyxia leading to unconsciousness within seconds and death within a few minutes.
As a result he asserted that beyond 3.15pm there were no actions that could have changed the fate of the victims and he limited the scope of the Inquest accordingly.
But by analysing post mortem reports the Panel have found that 28 did not have obstruction of blood circulation and 31 had evidence of heart and lungs continuing to function after the crush.
This means that individuals in those groups could have had potentially reversible asphyxia beyond 3.15pm in contrast to the findings of the Coroner and a subsequent Judicial Review.
And the Panel states clearly that 'it is highly likely that what happened to those individuals after 3.15pm was significant' in determining whether they died.
Mr Speaker, the conclusions of this report will be harrowing for many of the families affected.
Anyone who has lost a child knows the pain never leaves you.
But to read a report years afterwards that says – and I quote, 'a swifter, more appropriate, better focused and properly equipped response had the potential to save more lives', can only add to the pain
It is for the Attorney General to decide whether to apply to the High Court to quash the original inquest and seek a new one.
In this capacity he acts independently of government. And he will need to examine the evidence himself.
But it is clear to me that the new evidence in today's report raises vital questions which must be examined.
And the Attorney General has assured me that he will examine this new evidence immediately and reach a decision as fast as possible.
But ultimately it is for the High Court to decide.
It is also right that the House should have an opportunity to debate the issues raised in this report fully.
My Rt Hon Friend the Home Secretary will be taking forward a debate in Government time. And this will happen when the House returns in October.
Mr Speaker, I want to be very clear about the view the government takes about these findings and why after 23 years this matters so much, not just for the families but for Liverpool and for our country as a whole.
Mr Speaker what happened that day – and since – was wrong.
It was wrong that the responsible authorities knew Hillsborough did not meet minimum safety standards and yet still allowed the match to go ahead.
It was wrong that the families have had to wait for so long – and fight so hard – just to get to the truth.
And it was wrong that the police changed the records of what happened and tried to blame the fans.
We ask the police to do difficult and often very dangerous things on our behalf.
And South Yorkshire Police is a very different organisation today from what it was then.
But we do the many, many honourable police men and women a great disservice if we try to defend the indefensible.
It was also wrong that neither Lord Justice Taylor nor the Coroner looked properly at the response of the other emergency services.
Again, these are dedicated people who do extraordinary things to serve the public.
But the evidence from today's report makes very difficult reading.
Mr Speaker, with the weight of the new evidence in this Report, it is right for me today as Prime Minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have suffered over the past 23 years.
Indeed, the new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice.
The injustice of the appalling events – the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth.
And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased – that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths.
On behalf of the Government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.
WHY THIS MATTERS FOR MERSEYSIDE AND THE COUNTRY
Mr Speaker, because of what I have described as the second injustice – the false version of events – not enough people in this country understand what the people of Merseyside have been through.
This appalling death toll of so many loved ones lost was compounded by an attempt to blame the victims.
A narrative about hooliganism on that day was created which led many in the country to accept that it was somehow a grey area.
Today's report is black and white.
The Liverpool fans 'were not the cause of the disaster'.
The Panel has quite simply found 'no evidence' in support of allegations of 'exceptional levels of drunkenness, ticketlessness or violence among Liverpool fans', 'no evidence that fans had conspired to arrive late at the stadium' and 'no evidence that they stole from the dead and dying.'
Mr Speaker, I'm sure the whole House will want to thank the Bishop of Liverpool and his Panel for all the work they have done.
And I am sure that all sides will join with me in paying tribute to the incredible strength and dignity of the Hillsborough families and the community which has backed them in their long search for justice.
While nothing can ever bring back those who have been lost with all the documents revealed and nothing held back the families, at last, have access to the truth.
And I commend this Statement to the House.