“the failure of police control”.

Inadequate crowd management and poor provision of turnstiles led to an unmanageable crush outside the ground. Taylor found that the police were right to respond by opening exit gate C but wrong to fail to consider where fans entering through that gate would go next. Most went straight ahead, down a tunnel marked “Standing”, into the already-full central pens. Failure to block that tunnel was, according to Lord Taylor’s report,

“a blunder of the first magnitude”.

The police, however, attempted to create a different story—one in which drunken Liverpool fans arrived in their thousands at the last minute and caused the disaster. Their late arrival, it was claimed, overwhelmed the police. Officers presented unfounded stories of vile behaviour to the press. The intention, according to the panel, was to

“develop and publicise a version of events that focused on…allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence”.

In seeking to make its case, South Yorkshire police went so far as to vet the written statements made by its officers. Once vetted, changes were made. The panel found that 164 statements were altered significantly. Of those, 116 were amended so as to remove content that was unfavourable to the police, including on its lack of leadership.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): At the meeting of the Select Committee on Home Affairs last Tuesday, the present chief constable of South Yorkshire police was asked whether he accepted without qualification the panel’s report. He said yes.

Mrs May: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. He is absolutely right: the current chief constable has accepted what was in the report unconditionally. That is an important step for South Yorkshire police, but obviously we have to look at what the report says about South Yorkshire police.

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Is not part of the problem that there is currently limited, timid and weak sanction for any tampering by police officers with statements and witness statements? This is not the only case in the news today where witness statements and statements by officers have been tampered with. Clearly the current sanction is not strong enough, because if it was, perhaps we would have fewer incidents of this kind.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend raises an important point. I am coming on to talk about the investigations that will take place into the actions of South Yorkshire police,

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and obviously the issue that he has raised—the sanctions—is rightly something that should be considered alongside those investigations.

Let me return to the actions of the police. Perhaps even more shockingly, the panel also found evidence showing that officers carried out police national computer checks on those who had died. The panel said this was done in an attempt

“to impugn the reputations of the deceased”.

The whole House will want to join me in thanking the Bishop of Liverpool and all members of the panel for their thorough and revealing report. The panel’s report was shocking and disturbing, and the families of the victims must have found its contents harrowing. But although it is painful and will make many people angry, the report brings the full truth of Hillsborough into the light of day. The truth that some families have long known or suspected is now clear for all to see and to respect. I believe my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke for all of us in the House when he apologised to the families of the 96 for what he called the “double injustice” that they have suffered: first, the injustice of the appalling events and the indefensible wait to get to the truth; and secondly, the injustice of what he called the “denigration of the deceased”—the suggestion that those who died were somehow responsible for their own deaths and for those of their friends and fellow fans.

But after the truth must come justice; and after the apology, accountability. So let me set out for the House what is happening now. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced an investigation into the panel’s findings. The investigation will cover potential criminality and misconduct in respect of police officers, both serving and retired. It will be thorough and wide-ranging. As I have previously said, I remain committed to ensuring that the IPCC has all the powers and resources it needs to carry out its investigations thoroughly, transparently and exhaustively. The Government are already looking at what additional powers the IPCC will need, which includes proposals to require current and ex-police officers who may be witness to a crime to attend an interview, and whether this might require fast-track legislation. I therefore welcome what the shadow Home Secretary set out at the weekend about the opportunity for us to sit down and discuss the proposals, and to see whether fast-track legislation is the right way forward—I think my office has already been in touch with hers to try to get a suitable date in mind.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): As the Home Secretary probably knows, the South Yorkshire chief constable wrote to me on Friday to say that he has sent a list of 1,444 names of former and serving officers of South Yorkshire police to the IPCC. That is a huge number of names—more than we expected. Has the IPCC approached her to ask for additional resources, bearing in mind that it already has a large workload? It is important that we deal with the resources issue right at the start.

Mrs May: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for making that extremely valid point. The number of names sent by the chief constable of South Yorkshire makes clear the enormity of the issue. The Home Office is in discussion with the IPCC about the resources that it might need to ensure that it can conduct the investigation as thoroughly and exhaustively as we would all wish.

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In addition to the question about the IPCC’s powers in the investigation, it is also important to recognise that, in the case of Hillsborough, a number of individuals and organisations other than the police or ex-police officers will be investigated. We need to ensure that all these investigations are robust and properly co-ordinated, and that other investigations do not in any way compromise the independence of the IPCC. An important part of that will be to ensure that any police officers who are involved in any investigations are not from South Yorkshire police, now or in the past.

I am also very clear that, as we go through this process and decide on the next steps, it is important that the families should be consulted at every stage and that our proposals should be discussed with them.

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): I wrote to the Prime Minister recently about how this investigation was to be taken forward, and received a response from one of the Home Secretary’s Ministers. Will all the information and documentation relating to any future decisions be made available for public scrutiny?

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We will obviously need to see what material will be required for the investigations, and what material might be used as evidence in any charges and prosecutions that are brought. I will certainly look at the issue that he has raised about continuing transparency, which I recognise has been important in relation to the documents that have been released so far. Perhaps I can come back to him on that point.

Mr David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab): May I return to the question of resourcing that was raised by the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz)? A number of agencies, including local government and the police, will be involved as a consequence of the inquest, and many other operations will need to be undertaken that will require substantial resourcing. Can we have an assurance that those costs will be met centrally, rather than in a way that could affect the operation of other services to people in the communities affected?

Mrs May: I hear what the right hon. Gentleman is saying, and I understand his concern that other services should not suffer as a result of any requirements being placed on such organisations. I cannot give a commitment across the board at this stage. We are talking to the IPCC about the resources that it will need, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health will be looking at the implications for any health bodies that are involved. We want to ensure that the investigations are as thorough and exhaustive as possible, and we would not wish to put any barriers in the way of that happening, but a significant number of bodies will be involved, and we have to look at the matter very carefully. Specifically in regard to the IPCC, we are already having discussions about any requirements that it might have.

Mr Frank Field (Birkenhead) (Lab): The Home Secretary has said that we are moving towards a point of accountability, and she has mentioned the police. Before

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she completes her contribution to the debate, will she list the other public and private bodies to which we might wish accountability to be applied?

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health will certainly be covering a number of those bodies in his closing remarks this evening. As I have already mentioned, there were issues around the operation of the ambulance service, for example. Further public sector bodies might be involved. Those who are looking at the report are determining which bodies need to be investigated, and the list is currently being compiled. I can, however, commit that we will provide a list for the House at an appropriate point in due course, so that everyone is able to see all the bodies that are involved.

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend tell us whether there will be a process whereby the investigation can look into those who, although not involved in the services that she has mentioned, added to or fuelled the salacious rumours that were going around? I am thinking in particular of the local MP at the time. Could such matters be looked into, or would they be a matter for a private prosecution by the families?

Mrs May: I am absolutely clear that the various investigations—I shall come on to other aspects of investigation—will look at the totality of the report and its findings, and will identify any cases where there has been a suggestion of criminality; and if there has been such a suggestion, it will be properly investigated.

Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): With the families’ hopes dashed on so many occasions, does it not shame us as the mother of all Parliaments that it has taken 23 years for the families to get to this stage where at least the truth is out, but justice is still to be done?

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman is right, but I think that the issue goes wider than that. Going back to the remarks that the Prime Minister made in his statement, the problem for the families was that a sort of collective view came to be held across the country—that the fans had been responsible. We can discuss how that came about—it is quite clear in the report how it was fuelled by certain newspaper reports—but everybody came to accept that view and not to question it. It is to the great honour of the hon. Gentleman and a number of other Opposition Members, and to the families themselves, that they held fast to their belief through those 23 years. I hope that they can now take some comfort in the fact that the truth is out there. That double injustice has come to the surface and people have recognised it.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): The Home Secretary said that it became the collective view of everybody across the country that this was the fans’ fault, but let me be clear that that is completely and utterly incorrect. Many people across the country were very clear that it was not the fans’ fault, and very few people from my background were surprised to find that the former Prime Minister, the police and certain newspapers were in cahoots.

Mrs May: I recognise that there will have been individuals, perhaps in certain parts of the country, who took a different view. What happened was that, collectively or

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as a whole, nothing was done, and nobody responded to that view. This happened, I think, because there was an acceptance of the story that had been put about. As I said, that was the second injustice to the families that the Prime Minister mentioned. They had to suffer not only not seeing brought to light what they believed was the truth about what had happened to their loved ones and friends, but the injustice of being told that it was those individuals’ own fault. That is absolutely shameful.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): Does the Home Secretary agree that our system is at times vulnerable to cover-ups, and that we need to look at the processes to try to make sure that we have no more of them?

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I assume that in the course of these investigations, some issues of that sort will be raised and we will need to look at them. I shall say a little more later about the accountability of the police.

Moving on to deal with further investigations, the Director of Public Prosecutions has initiated a review of the panel’s findings. His review will inform a decision as to whether there are grounds to pursue prosecution of any of the parties identified in the report. If the DPP decides that further investigation is necessary, I will ensure that this can be carried out swiftly and thoroughly. In the case of police officers, it is likely that the IPCC will pick up the investigative role. If the DPP finds that a broader investigation is necessary, we will appoint a senior experienced investigator—entirely independent and unconnected to these events—to operate an investigation team within the new National Crime Agency.

The bereaved families have long considered the original inquest to have been inadequate, and the Hillsborough independent panel has pointed to significant flaws. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has studied the panel’s report in detail and looked at the disclosed material and the previous requests for new inquests that were declined by his predecessors. He has confirmed that he will apply to the High Court for the original inquest to be quashed and a new one ordered.

Right hon. and hon. Members will know that it is for the High Court and not for Government to make the final decision, and that we must be careful not to pre-judge the Court’s consideration. Should the Court agree a new inquest, I have asked the chairman of the Hillsborough independent panel, the Bishop of Liverpool, to work with the new chief coroner to ensure that arrangements are put in place in which the families are central, and to ensure that the new inquest is run in a way that reflects the dignity and respect that the families have themselves so consistently demonstrated. I have also asked the Bishop of Liverpool to act as my adviser more generally on Hillsborough-related matters, and he has agreed to do so.

Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab): At the original inquest the families had to cover their own costs, including the costs of attending. Can the Home Secretary comment at this stage on whether the costs of the families’ involvement in future inquests might be borne by the public purse?

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Mrs May: That point has been raised with me directly by families and by representatives of families and survivors, and my officials are looking into it now.

As I said earlier, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health will say more about the role of health professionals and emergency health services in respect of Hillsborough when he closes the debate. I know that, like me, he has met representatives of the Hillsborough families, and has taken a close interest in the work of the panel. I also know that, with his responsibilities for the health service, he shares my determination to ensure that proper action is taken when individuals or institutions are found to be at fault.

The Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has already written to the Royal College of Pathologists, the College of Emergency Medicine and the General Medical Council drawing their attention to the panel’s work and asking them to consider its implications. The Department of Health has also drawn the panel’s report to the attention of the General Medical Council, which will be considering whether there is a need to investigate any currently practising doctors.

The chief executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, has written to the chief executives of ambulance services and hospitals that provide emergency care to ensure that they are aware of the panel’s findings. Last week, given the panel’s findings in relation to the alteration of statements in the ambulance service, the Department of Health asked the Health and Care Professions Council, which regulates ambulance paramedics, to consider whether any actions taken by currently serving ambulance staff might merit further investigation.

I was steadfast in my support for the panel, and I am equally steadfast in my determination that the processes that are now taking shape must be pursued with all the rigour that the panel showed in its work. I have set out the action being taken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney-General and others, but it is clear that that action will require a co-ordinated approach. Representatives of the IPCC, the DPP and the Attorney-General are already in contact and working together, and I can give a commitment that, as part of my ongoing role as the Government’s lead minister for Hillsborough, I will ensure that a fully co-ordinated approach is adopted. I have met representatives of the bereaved families and survivors, and I will ensure that they are consulted further about the arrangements.

Keith Vaz: I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way a second time. As she knows, the families came to see the Select Committee last Tuesday, and I am glad that she was able to see them on Thursday. They suggested that the DPP should have oversight of all the different agencies. I know that the Home Secretary will be the lead Minister and that Stephen Rimmer will be the responsible official in her Department, but does she not think that a single person should co-ordinate all the various agencies? There is a possibility that things might get lost in various different places otherwise. I am merely seeking the Home Secretary’s view on what is best.

Mrs May: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for raising that point, which I discussed with representatives of the families when they came to see me. A number of

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meetings are taking place with representatives this week to consider a number of options for how that co-ordination can take place. We are looking at all those options, and I assure him that the option that was raised then will be in the mix. We must ensure that we get what is right, and what the families can have confidence in.

I take immensely seriously the report’s implications for public confidence in the integrity of the police. Police officers in this country police with the consent of their fellow citizens, but they can only do that if they have the trust of their fellow citizens. The actions of officers, especially senior officers, at Hillsborough and immediately following the disaster strike at the heart of that trust. There are also wider problems that give cause for concern in relation to the integrity of the police. In recent weeks we have seen a constable and a chief constable dismissed for gross misconduct, and a number of senior officers across the country are currently under investigation for misconduct. Lord Justice Leveson will report shortly on the findings of his inquiry, and Operations Elveden and Weeting continue to uncover the involvement of individual police officers and police staff in the activities of News International. This all generates a level of public concern and loss of confidence in the police that is damaging to the reputation of the vast majority of decent, hard-working police officers, and therefore to their ability to police with consent.

Our programme of police reform includes a new college of policing, which will work to improve police leadership and professional standards. Police and crime commissioners, elected next month, will bring greater transparency and local accountability to policing. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary is becoming more independent. I have also already said that I am prepared to give extra resources and new powers to the IPCC.

Mark Pritchard: I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way a second time; she is being most generous. I am sure she agrees that the governing coalition does not have a monopoly of wisdom on legislation and good ideas as to how this country can be better governed, so will she remain open-minded about the shadow Home Secretary’s recently announced plans to replace the IPCC with a new police standards authority? A lot of people think the IPCC is not fit for purpose. It will be very busy over the coming months, and it is right that we stick with it and support it, but will she be open-minded about the possibility of bringing in a Bill to establish a new police standards authority before the next election?

Mrs May: I am always willing to be open-minded on a number of such matters. The IPCC is under new chairmanship, and I think Dame Anne Owers has done an excellent job in the limited time she has been at the IPCC in showing its genuine independence and her desire to make sure the organisation has all the powers and resources it needs to be able to do the job it currently has to do in conducting a number of investigations, but I have outlined a number of changes that I believe will bring greater accountability to the police. All those changes will make a positive difference in terms of public confidence in the integrity of the police, but I will return to the House by the new year with fuller proposals to ensure that the police operate to the highest ethical standards and that the public can have full confidence in police integrity.

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I would like to end by paying tribute to the families of the 96 and all those who have supported them over the many years. Their persistence and indomitability, driven by love for those they have lost, are an inspiration. They have fought for justice, and not warm words, but I would like to place on the record my respect for them all the same, and I offer them this commitment: the Government will do everything in their power to support them in moving from truth to justice.

4.57 pm

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): I welcome the Home Secretary’s opening speech, the personal attention that I know she has given to this extremely important issue, and the stance she has taken. I agree with her and join her in respect of the apology that is owed to the families for the 23 years they have waited and been denied both truth and justice, and also in recognising the deep distress caused by the disturbing facts found in the Hillsborough independent panel report, which shocked the country and this House.

What was set out in its pages was a shocking failure to keep people safe. They were failures that spanned nearly three decades: the failure to improve the safety of the ground in the years before Hillsborough; the failure to learn from previous crowd problems; the failure to organise crowd safety before the match; the failure to deliver crowd safety during the match; the failure to close the tunnel once the gate was opened; the failure to help fans in the crush speedily; the failure to be honest about what happened and to investigate what happened; a failure to get to the truth; and a failure to provide justice. That is a long list of failures, which have caused untold sorrow and anguish, and which underpin the tragic death of 96 people.

A long list, too, of untruths have now finally been exposed: the untruths about the fans, about late arrivals at the match, about drinking, and about the actions of the emergency services. There is also a story of injustice: an inquest that failed to give every family a truthful account of how and why their loved one died; a failure to hold anyone to account, either through the criminal courts or through disciplinary procedures; a systematic cover-up; and a campaign of misinformation that maligned innocent people.

As the Prime Minister said on the day the report was published, Hillsborough was

“one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century”.—[Official Report, 12 September 2012; Vol. 550, c. 283.]

Ninety-six people died but it could have avoided. That alone should have made it even more important to get to the truth and justice, and it makes it even more sobering and shocking that there has been a failure to do so for 23 years. All the institutions that are supposed to pursue truth and justice—that are supposed to provide checks and balances in a democracy—failed to do so over Hillsborough: the police; the courts; the police watchdogs; the justice system; the press; and democratic institutions. They all failed to deliver truth or justice for 23 years.

It is therefore with humility that we must all pay tribute to the families of the 96 victims, who fought for 23 years for the truth and are still fighting now for justice, because without the efforts of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign

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and Hope for Hillsborough the truth would have remained hidden. They kept fighting when others would have given up, they kept calling for the truth to come out when others turned their backs and they kept standing when others fell. We must pay tribute to all of them, and we must also pay tribute to the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev. James Jones, and his team of experts for setting out in black and white what the evidence shows.

I pay tribute to the Liverpool Echo, which has kept the campaign going for so long, and may I pay tribute to the local MPs, who have fought so hard to support the families? I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), whose work in government led to the setting up of the Hillsborough panel and who has continued to pursue this issue from the Opposition Benches. I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle), for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) and for Halton (Derek Twigg), and to all the other Merseyside MPs who have been so determined in standing up for their constituents; I know that many from across the Back Benches and the Front Benches will be speaking in the debate, but some will not be able to speak from the Front Bench today, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), whose constituents were also affected on that day.

I welcome the words from the Home Secretary today because I believe that there is agreement right across this House about the importance of both action and accountability. Although the Hillsborough panel was set up before the election, she and the Prime Minister have supported it since and they have supported its conclusions. We are keen to work with the Government on the next steps, because disclosure and truth are not enough—the families have made it clear that they need justice. The panel’s report refers to the following quote:

“The whole point of justice consists precisely in our providing for others through humanity what we provide for our own family through affection.”

That journey is not over. So today we have the opportunity to debate and reflect on the details of the panel’s report, and the Home Secretary set out powerfully this afternoon some of the most important conclusions it reached.

I also want to make some points about the next steps, and how we make sure that the system does not fail again and that truth and justice are delivered now. Today, the three next steps have been announced. We heard about the Attorney-General’s welcome decision that he will be applying for fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96; the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision to review the evidence with a view to criminal prosecutions; and the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s investigation into police conduct surrounding Hillsborough, which could cover both criminal and disciplinary issues. As I understand it, the Home Secretary has today told us that if the DPP decides that a criminal investigation will be pursued, a special investigative team will be established to take that forward.

Alec Shelbrooke: I am sure that the right hon. Lady, a fellow West Yorkshire MP, shares my concerns that the chief constable of West Yorkshire is being investigated by the IPCC, not least for having tried to influence the police authority not to refer this matter on. Does she agree that in order for the public to have faith in this investigation, he should be suspended?

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Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman raises a serous issue about the chief constable of West Yorkshire, who, as he rightly says, has been referred to the IPCC on a series of accounts—for things that happened at the time of Hillsborough, for things that happened subsequently and for the things that have happened most recently. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Home Secretary and I are both limited in what we can say on an individual case when due legal process is under way, but it is extremely important that the case is properly investigated and, later on in my speech, I shall return to some of the issues it raises.

Given the failure of previous investigations to reach either the truth or justice, it is vital that action is now timely and effective and I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement that every step must include detailed consultation with the families.

Let me make a few points about the inquest. Clearly, everyone is keen for a new inquest to be reopened as soon as possible although we recognise, of course, that the proper legal processes must be pursued and that the Attorney-General has 450,000 documents to consider. Given how long the families have already waited, I hope that the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office can consider together whether any additional support must be provided for the Attorney-General’s Office so that it can complete that in as timely a manner as possible. Clearly, the process must start as soon as is practical. I hope, too, that the families will be listened to on the importance of holding the inquest not in Sheffield but in the north-west.

The panel’s report was clear that the coroner’s decision to implement a 3.15 pm cut-off was flawed and that some people survived for a significant period beyond that time. The report also found, tragically, that a swifter, better focused and properly equipped response would have had the potential to save more lives. The emergency response after 3.15pm has never been challenged and it must be now.

Other concerns about the inquest that have long been raised by the families emerge clearly from the panel’s report: the way it was structured; the continued credence given to the unfounded claims about drinking and alcohol levels; the reliance on altered police witness statements rather than on the original testimony of officers; and much more besides. Clearly, it is important that a reopened inquest is not confined to considering the events that took place after 3.15 and there must be a proper answer for every one of the 96 families about what happened to their loved ones. That means that the families will need legal representation, too, and I hope, given the exceptional circumstances, that the Home Secretary and the Ministry of Justice will ensure that that happens directly so that the families do not need to go through further hassle and uncertainty with the Legal Services Commission.

Let me turn to the criminal investigation. The IPCC has already identified two kinds of potential criminal or misconduct issues based on the disclosures in the report. The first concern what happened at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 and the events that led up to it, as well as the potential culpability of individuals and institutions for the deaths, which will mean reconsidering those unheeded warnings, the safety standards, the lack of an updated safety certificate, the planning, the operational decisions, the failure to close the tunnel, the failure to

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declare a major incident on the day and more. The second concern the cover-up, the potential perversion of the course of justice and misconduct events.

I want to dwell on the second group of issues for a moment. The purpose and role of the police are to protect people and to pursue truth without fear or favour, wherever it might take them, in the interests of justice. The panel’s report shows that at Hillsborough the police failed to keep people safe, that they distorted and buried the truth, and that justice was betrayed. The panel’s report was devastating in its exposure of what happened in South Yorkshire police, with 164 statements taken from the officers on the day identified for substantive amendment, of which 116 were changed. A series of statements that revealed the lack of leadership from senior officers as the crisis built were all deleted and so, too, were statements about normal practice on closing the tunnel once the gate was opened.

Pressure was applied to police officers to change their statements, too. PC Michael Walpole, in a letter to Lord Justice Stuart-Smith’s scrutiny report, said about the doctoring of police statements:

“I must say that I wished my final statement to be the exact copy of the original recollection…However, since I (like most others) was suffering from post traumatic stress and depression, I agreed to the deletions to my final statement under the conditions I was placed under. My personal view is that a police officer should be able to freely make an honest and truthful statement of facts and opinion and it was an injustice for statements to have been ‘doctored’ to suit the management of the South Yorkshire Police.”

That is an extremely serious statement.

People will have seen—the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) referred to them—the separate allegations that have emerged this morning about statements being changed in relation to Orgreave, where it appears that a separate investigation will be needed into what happened. It is important that the matter is fully pursued for the sake of justice over Hillsborough and also to ensure that these events do not cast a shadow over the important work that the police do each day and to ensure that wider public confidence in policing is maintained.

The Home Secretary rightly referred to the approach taken by the current South Yorkshire chief constable, both in full disclosure to the panel and in accepting the conclusions of the panel’s report. It is important for the sake of policing today that we take seriously what happened 23 years ago.

Mark Pritchard: Does the shadow Home Secretary agree that to restore public trust in the police, whatever the IPCC says, there should be criminal prosecutions where there is enough evidence that is beyond all reasonable doubt? We are all subject to the same law, whether Members of Parliament or police officers, both serving and retired. Would she share my concern if the IPCC, having found something, allowed police forces to conduct their own internal disciplinary inquiries, which so often rely on the balance of probabilities—of course, the threshold is lower—and so often see police officers go into a well-remunerated and happy retirement while the victims still do not have justice?

Yvette Cooper: I agree that if there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, there must be prosecutions. It is right that those decisions about prosecutions are made

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independently, not by Parliament obviously, but by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is right that there should be criminal accountability for what happened. The hon. Gentleman is right, too, that we must ensure that the disciplinary procedures are subject to a proper process because there may also be cases where, even if there may not be criminal misconduct, disciplinary proceedings should be pursued. I take the opportunity to welcome his support for the idea of replacing the IPCC with a strengthened police standards authority. Such reforms are important for police confidence in the future.

The panel’s report shows clearly the misleading, false and deeply hurtful information that was disseminated by members of South Yorkshire police—false claims that were propagated by members of the police that fans had broken into the stadium, a claim that was reported in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and further allegations of drunkenness, ticketless fans and fans arriving late, which were promoted by unnamed officers and were shown to be false by the work of the panel.

The question now is how disciplinary and criminal investigations should be pursued into what happened on the day and afterwards. It is essential that everything possible is done to remove further obstacles in the way of justice and to ensure that the families are consulted. It is vital that they have confidence in this process.

It is clear that the investigation cannot be carried out solely by the IPCC, which has neither the powers nor the resources to do so. Although I agree with the Home Secretary that the new chair is doing a very good job and has a strong background, this investigation is far beyond the scale of anything that the IPCC has done before. It will also require powers that the IPCC does not have. For example, evidence will need to be taken from large numbers of serving and retired police officers, and also from police staff, former police legal advisers, former civil servants, even MPs and maybe even journalists. However, the IPCC does not have the powers to do that. Although it can pursue officers where it has good reason to believe that they have committed a criminal offence, if it is seeking witness statements or pursuing disciplinary offences, its powers are much more limited. The IPCC itself has told the Home Affairs Committee that

“where police officers refuse to attend for interview, IPCC investigators can only seek the information they need through the submission of written questions to officers via their solicitors or other representatives. Not only can this seriously undermine public confidence in IPCC investigations, it can also impact on the overall effectiveness and timeliness of investigations.”

In many cases the IPCC cannot compel civilians at all.

My view is that we will need a new framework in future. I welcome the Home Secretary’s commitment to look further at the issue and bring it back to this House. The IPCC was a huge step forward from the old Police Complaints Authority, and it has done some important work on individual cases, but it is simply not strong enough to provide the safeguards and standards for good policing that we need. That is why I have asked Lord Stevens’ commission to consider drawing up a new police standards authority to replace it.

In the meantime, however, we need answers on Hillsborough. The Home Secretary said that a range of possibilities is being discussed in the mix on how this could be taken forward and that she is discussing it with the families. Clearly, that is important.

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Keith Vaz: My right hon. Friend and the Home Secretary have both made eloquent speeches. It is heartening to see Parliament at one on this very important issue.

When the families came to give evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, they talked about the need for co-ordination. My right hon. Friend has pointed to the problems with some of the powers of the IPCC. There may be a case for a special prosecutor—an individual who can draw all the strands together. It has been suggested that it should be the DPP, but I think that he will be too busy to do something of this kind. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we will lose the initiative if we do not have a single point of co-ordination? The Home Secretary has the powers to do this; let us use them.

Yvette Cooper: I agree with my right hon. Friend about the importance of co-ordination and the value of having a special prosecutor in these circumstances. It might be helpful if Ministers said a bit more about whether there is any concern about how long it will take for the DPP to decide whether further criminal prosecutions will be pursued given that a special prosecutor and a special investigative team may not be established until after that decision has been taken. In other words, what resources does the DPP need in the meantime in order to take the decision about criminal prosecutions? The IPCC is beginning investigations now, and there is a question about how long these will take to get going.

Mr Anderson: In many years of representing people, particularly in the public services, in some very serious internal disciplinary procedures, it was always the norm that when someone was accused of potential serious misconduct they were suspended. Has anyone been suspended from the police service? If not, who has the power to do that if it is seen to be the right thing to do?

Yvette Cooper: There are legal processes in place that allow police authorities to take decisions about the suspensions of police officers. As my hon. Friend will recognise, in taking these decisions it is clearly important that legal processes are followed. In the past, there have been suspensions in a series of such cases.

The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): Let me clarify this point. If the Director of Public Prosecutions considered that he lacked resources in order to carry out his co-ordinating function, he could come and raise it with me as the superintending Minister. The position at the moment is that no such approach has been made, but if it were required, of course he could do that.

Yvette Cooper: I welcome that clarification. The interest of the families and the public in this lies in having a properly co-ordinated investigation. We do not want to have a separate IPCC investigation and a parallel criminal investigation but a single, co-ordinated investigation.

Mrs May: Perhaps I can clarify the situation. There is the IPCC investigation and there is also the investigation by the DPP that is taking place. If the DPP believes that a wider investigation is necessary, the Home Office will make resources available under the ambit of the incoming National Crime Agency for an investigator who is completely separate and has no connection whatever with these issues. We would expect to put the co-ordination

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role in place fairly soon, because this is also about making sure that things get done. For example, we must ensure that if it looks as though there is a delay in any part of the investigation, then somebody, or a group of people, can press the body concerned, whether it be the IPCC, the DPP or individuals, to get on with the job. An investigation must be done fully and properly to uncover the truth and bring about justice, but we also need to make sure that it is not going to drag on and on, because the families do not deserve that.

Yvette Cooper: I welcome the Home Secretary’s clarification. First, the co-ordination is very welcome. Secondly, however, should the Director of Public Prosecutions decide that prosecutions should be pursued—there seems to be strong support in the House for him to do so, although it is clearly an independent decision for him—would that result in a single investigative team involving the police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, or would there continue to be, in effect, two parallel investigations by the IPCC and criminal investigators? That would raise concerns, given the fact that the IPCC can pursue both criminal and disciplinary investigations.

I urge the Home Secretary to consider, as part of her role in the co-ordination process, having a single team, with full police investigative powers and led by a special prosecutor, for the criminal investigation, and for it to consist of police officers from a range of different forces, perhaps under the auspices of the National Crime Agency. The role played by the West Midlands police in the original investigation was clearly a problem and the panel’s report raised considerable concerns. Drawing police officers from a series of different forces would give the investigation greater authority.

We are keen to explore with the Home Secretary whether additional powers could be granted to the IPCC —perhaps through emergency legislation—so that it can pursue disciplinary action as well as criminal investigations. I welcome the contact that her office made this morning to ensure that we can speedily take those discussions forward. We are interested in supporting emergency legislation to enable the IPCC to compel witnesses and access third-party data.

Thirdly, although a special prosecutor is welcome, the Government will be aware that there have also been failings over Hillsborough at the Crown Prosecution Service in the past, so some additional oversight may be needed.

Fourthly, I welcome the points that Government Front-Bench representatives have made about resources. The IPCC has said that a substantial amount of work is required initially to scope the investigation, including identifying the resources required. It is, therefore, likely to be many months before officers are contacted by the investigation team. Any further delay would be of considerable concern. I hope that the Home Secretary and others can provide reassurance about the availability of those resources.

My final point on the disciplinary investigations is that the IPCC has noted that retired police officers are not liable for any misconduct sanction. That is obviously very troubling for the public in many cases, because it makes it possible for police officers who have committed

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serious misconduct, or who have breached the great trust put in the office of constable, to retire on full pension without any further investigation or sanction. Given that 23 years have passed since Hillsborough, this is a particularly sensitive concern. Many officers have already retired and many more may do so before these investigations are concluded. Will the Home Secretary consider the issue carefully?

Alec Shelbrooke: The right hon. Lady may not know the answer, but will she try to clarify something about retiring police officers for me? The current chief constable of West Yorkshire police had retired from the police and taken his full pension, which was suspended when he came back as chief constable of West Yorkshire police. Is he classed as retired or as serving? This is an important point for the investigation.

Yvette Cooper: I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to respond to the hon. Gentleman’s important point. The wider issue applies to a whole series of cases. If officers have taken early retirement or retired at the normal age, further investigations or sanctions should be considered if there was serious misconduct while they were in office. The issue is complex, but I will happily discuss it further with the Home Secretary to make sure that justice is not denied in the case of Hillsborough as a result of long-standing arrangements for disciplinary and misconduct procedures, and to make sure that people can, even after 23 years, still be held to account.

Finally, this journey is not over. We owe it to the families to ensure that they can now get truth and justice. We must reflect on how this could have happened; why the attempts to reach the truth and justice failed so many times; why the Liverpool fans and their families were not taken seriously by the justice system for so long; and why the systems that were designed to help people and to provide safeguards against injustice—the courts, the coroners, the police, the police watchdogs, the free press and our democratic institutions—did not get to the truth for 23 years. What do we need to do now to strengthen those checks and balances and to remove the obstacles to justice? Most importantly, how can we ensure that this cannot happen again? No one should have to wait 23 years to find out the truth about what happened to a loved one. No one should have to fight this hard to get justice for a child, a husband or a relative they have lost.

The Hillsborough panel report is so powerful because it has exposed the truth and brought it out from the shadows and into the light of day. The Bishop of Liverpool has said that

“if the truth of any situation is unearthed and laid bare then the truth will shed light and show the direction forward. And it will have the power of pressure.”

The truth has shed light on Hillsborough and the direction is clear, but the journey is not over. Now we must ensure that the pressure of truth leads to justice.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. Understandably, there is intense interest in this debate. In recognition of that, I have had to impose a time limit of 10 minutes on each Back-Bench

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contribution. I emphasise to the House that, depending on progress, that time limit might, during the course of the debate, need to be reviewed.

5.26 pm

Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): The atmosphere that enveloped the Chamber when the Prime Minister made his statement to the House last month will stay with me for the rest of my life. That atmosphere was echoed across the country as the truth of what happened at Hillsborough was revealed.

To learn that the lives of 41 people might have been saved and to discover that those responsible sought to manipulate the truth to conceal their own guilt and shift the blame on to the innocent victims of the day made this one of the greatest scandals in our history. The failures, flaws, corruption and deceit of those who were culpable have been laid bare for all to see. Most importantly, the reputation, honour and persistence of those who sought the truth for so long have been vindicated.

Reading through the panel’s report, it is difficult to identify which of the many failings caused the most harm: the cavalier attitude towards health and safety at the stadium, which had no safety certificate and a terrible record of near misses at big matches in previous years; the complete absence of leadership, communication and responsibility among those who were supposedly in charge on the day; or the perpetuation of lies by those self-serving individuals in senior positions of authority who tried to absolve themselves of responsibility. Each of those revelations, and the many others that the report highlighted, were truly shocking to discover. We owe the members of the panel a huge debt of gratitude for their diligence and hard work, and for the clarity with which they presented their findings.

Looking around the Chamber, I can see many right hon. and hon. Members who fought long and hard to ensure that the truth about Hillsborough was brought to the public’s attention. What many of us cannot understand is why it has taken so long. Although there is much in the panel’s report that has been revealed and published for the first time, there is a huge amount that has been known about for a long time, but that has been ignored, dismissed or ridiculed over the course of the 23 years.

A case in point, where information and evidence have clearly been ignored, is that of my constituent’s son, Kevin Williams. As with all 96 victims, the inquest into his death ruled that Kevin died at or before 3.15 pm, yet video evidence showed Kevin being lifted out of pen 3 at 3.28 pm and resuscitated on the pitch by PC Michael Craighill. At 3.31 pm Kevin was carried across the pitch by, among others, an off-duty fire officer, Mr Tony O’Keefe, who stated that Kevin was still alive. At 3.37 pm, Kevin was resuscitated by an off-duty police officer, PC Derek Bruder, who testified that Kevin was still alive. Finally, Special WPC Debra Martin found Kevin’s pulse, picked him up in her arms and watched and listened as he opened his eyes, spoke the word “Mum” and then died just before 4 o’clock.

There has never really been any doubt about what happened to Kevin Williams. The eyewitness accounts on the day were unequivocal: Kevin was still alive just before 4 pm. The evidence has been presented to three previous Attorneys-General on three separate occasions,

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and the facts of what happened to Kevin were recounted in the House in an Adjournment debate as far back as 1994. What happened to Kevin, and to so many others, has not been a secret, yet only last month, with the Prime Minister’s statement and the publication of the independent panel’s report, was the truth finally accepted.

Steve Rotheram: I spoke today to Anne Williams, who is not well enough to be here but will be watching the proceedings on the television. Is it not testament to a mother’s love that somebody would continue their fight despite the fact that, time after time, the legal doors were slammed in that woman’s face? She went as far as the European Court and was turned down. Is that not a national disgrace?

Stephen Mosley: I spoke to Mrs Williams on Friday and she passed on her regards and thanks to Members such as the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), who have done so much to ensure that we have got to where we are now. I am grateful for the fact that the truth is now out there, and as the hon. Gentleman says, it is a total disgrace that it has taken so long.

We now know that witness statements were altered in the weeks and months after the tragedy. Last week, the Independent Police Complaints Commission launched an investigation into the process of amendments undertaken by South Yorkshire police. In addition, the IPCC said that the role of West Midlands police would be examined as part of its investigations, and it is that role that I wish to address.

As I said, at 3.37 pm Kevin Williams was being resuscitated by an off-duty police officer, PC Derek Bruder. PC Bruder had seen Kevin moving his head and being sick, so he went over to help. He saw an ambulance and tried to stop it so that Kevin could receive medical attention. PC Bruder provided an official statement shortly afterwards, along with a second statement four months later.

PC Bruder was then visited at his home on 3 May 1990 by a West Midlands detective inspector to take a further statement. PC Bruder was told that the video footage had been studied and that the ambulance to which he referred in his statement was not in the ground in the time, so he must be mistaken. He stuck to his evidence and told the detective inspector that he would be available to give evidence at the inquest. But PC Bruder was not called to give evidence at the inquest. Instead, Detective Inspector Sawers said at Kevin’s inquest that PC Bruder was mistaken about the ambulance; mistaken about taking a pulse from Kevin; and also mistaken about seeing him be sick. It is worth noting that, contrary to the evidence given at the inquest, video and photographic evidence was available, along with a statement from the assistant driver of the ambulance in question, Mr Tony Edwards, confirming PC Bruder’s testimony that an ambulance passed them at 3.37 pm. His evidence was correct all along and should not have been ignored and dismissed at the initial inquest.

Another example of the inappropriate actions of West Midlands police relates to the special constable who held Kevin in her arms as he passed away shortly before 4 pm. Special WPC Debra Martin’s original statement, made within weeks of the disaster, described finding Kevin’s pulse, resuscitating him, hearing him

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call for his mother and holding him as he died just before 4 pm. However, a few months later Miss Martin was visited at her home by West Midlands police officers. In total, she was visited on four separate occasions by senior police officers whose aim was to convince her that her original statement was mistaken and that Kevin was not alive when she treated him. Considerable pressure was put on Miss Martin to ratify the amended statement, and I understand that she was even told that she could not have looked after Kevin because she was not at Hillsborough. She was accused of standing by and doing nothing as people died; she was told she was making the whole thing up. In the end, she succumbed to pressure and signed the second statement without reading it. In that second statement, everything that referred to signs of life in Kevin was gone, and there was no reference to a pulse or to him saying, “Mum”. Miss Martin has stated on numerous occasions that she stands by her original statement and that she was bullied by senior police officers to sign the second, inaccurate statement.

Alec Shelbrooke: Does my hon. Friend agree that Miss Martin was not bullied, but rather the course of justice was perverted?

Stephen Mosley: This is my reading of the situation. Miss Martin is very clear about what happened; I heard her talking about it on the radio just last week. She was terribly bullied and found herself in an awful situation.

Although the conduct of West Midlands police is not detailed in the independent panel’s report, it must be seriously called into question, and the actions of the police thoroughly investigated in the IPCC inquiry.

The Hillsborough independent panel has done a fantastic job not only in overseeing the full disclosure of information, but also, importantly, by adding to public understanding about what happened. To ensure that we finally complete the quest for justice, two more tasks must be undertaken. First, where responsibility has been neglected and evidence either altered or deliberately ignored, prosecutions must follow. Secondly, the Attorney-General must deliver on his promise to ask the High Court for new inquests into the 96 deaths. Previous inquests have been shown to be false, and they must be quashed in law. The circumstances surrounding Hillsborough have remained clouded in the minds of many for more than 23 years. People did not understand what happened, but now they do. After 23 years, the truth has finally been revealed and it is time for justice.

5.37 pm

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): I welcome the report which sets out, once and for all, the real truth that many of us have known from the start, and I congratulate the panel on its work. I was closely involved with the Hillsborough family support group during long negotiations with the previous Labour Government about setting up the independent panel, and I know that many people put huge amounts of work into the process. Two people who had an input but would not normally be mentioned are Mario Dunn, then the Home Secretary’s special adviser, and Ken Sutton, who led the civil service team and did a tremendous amount of hard work to get us to where we are today.

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A number of hon. Members have been considering how we can move this issue forward, and one cross-party idea is to set up a Hillsborough disaster all-party group that will allow us to discuss various matters that will continue to arise, and meet relevant people and bodies—including, of course, the families—to see how the process is progressing. I hope that that group can be set up within the next few weeks.

Before I get to the main thrust of my comments, I wish to record my admiration for and thanks to the families that have campaigned over these 23 years. They have been brave, dogged and persistent and have never given up seeking truth and justice for their loved ones. They have, quite frankly, been magnificent. A leading role over the years was played by a constituent of mine, Eddie Spearritt, who sadly died earlier this year and did not see this report. He lost his son, Adam, and was himself in intensive care and unconscious, although he survived. I will return later in my remarks to some of the issues that the Spearritt family have raised with me. The fact that Mr Spearritt survived is particularly pertinent with regard to arguments about the 3.15 pm cut-off that we have heard previously and today.

I speak as someone who was in the stadium on the day of the disaster. If someone from another planet had come to earth at some point in the years after Hillsborough, they would not have believed it if they were told that, prior to the match, Liverpool football club raised concerns that it was not given the Kop end to accommodate its larger support; that extra tickets were given to Nottingham Forest, which had smaller support; and that there had been a significant crush incident in 1981 and problems between then and 1989, but nothing significant was done and Hillsborough continued to be used as a venue. They would not have believed that the police had decided they wanted to put side fencing on the terracing as segregation and requested that the turnstiles should be altered to direct supporters into the correct pens, but Sheffield Wednesday rejected the suggestion on the basis of cost. They would not have believed that the ground did not have a valid safety certificate, and that an experienced commander, Superintendent Mole, was replaced 21 days before the match. We do not know to this day, and neither did the panel ascertain, why that happened. The panel said that it was a “significant development”. We therefore do not yet have all the truth.

Someone coming to this planet would not have believed that there had been a 30% cut in the number of police officers in the Leppings Lane end, which was the most difficult area to police; that the police were not stopping people to check their tickets and did not organise queues as they had done in previous years; that the police lost control outside the ground; that communications between police officers in the command posts inside and outside the ground were, to say the least, chaotic; that the police opened an outside gate and did not block off the tunnel to pens 3 and 4; and that the officer in charge of the operation ignored what was happening in front in his own eyes—supporters were in serious trouble, being crushed, and, as we know, dying. He then lies about what happened, and police officers engage in a co-ordinated campaign to blame the fans—in other words, they organise a conspiracy to put the blame on the fans and away from themselves.

Someone coming to this planet would not have believed the appalling and inadequate emergency response—senior ambulance management did not take control. They

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would not have believed that the whole justice system failed the families and survivors, and that no one to this date has been prosecuted or faced justice. They would not have believed that scandalous situation possible. Of course, we knew a lot of that in the years after 1989, including during the debate in 1998, but nothing was done until the independent panel report.

For the first time in 23 years, I have read the match programme from that day. Next to a picture of the Leppings Lane end is the following comment: “a perfect venue”. It states:

“As you look around Hillsborough you will appreciate why it has been regarded for so long as the perfect venue for all kinds of important matches”.

The programme mentions altering and improving the Kop end—Sheffield Wednesday did not, of course, improve the Leppings Lane end—and preparation prior to the match, which it says was of paramount importance. On opposing the then Government’s identity scheme, the Sheffield Wednesday chairman says that

“the hooligan problem inside football stadiums is virtually eradicated”,

and yet we, as Liverpool fans, were accused of being hooligans on that day. That man was in charge of Sheffield Wednesday football club, and he made those comments in the programme on the day, which says a lot about the mindset that existed at that time.

Here is another interesting insight into the club and its attitude. Following the 1981 crushing incident, when the police allowed a number of supporters on to the track around the perimeter fence, Mr McGhee, the same chairman of Sheffield Wednesday football club, argued that the police action was completely unnecessary and made the ground look untidy. He considered that that might prevent Hillsborough hosting future semi-finals. I wish it had.

Assistant Chief Constable Goslin insisted that, owing to the crushing on the terraces, there had been a “real chance of fatalities” to which, astonishingly, Mr McGee replied:

“Bollocks—no one would have been killed!”

I hope that is parliamentary language, Mr Deputy Speaker; it is in the report. However, we now know different. We need to continue to explore the issue of the ground.

I mentioned the Spearritt family, who wrote to me and made the point about ensuring that the investigations are fully resourced. They are also concerned about the position of the chief constable, Norman Bettison, which clearly needs proper scrutiny, and the time it will take to bring to justice those who should face it. The families have waited a long time already of course. Other families have raised issues about the cost of the inquest and associated issues, and the siting of the new inquest—presuming that one is held—in Liverpool. That is a matter for others to decide, but I hope that it will take place close to Liverpool if not in the city.

Constituents have also raised with me the issue of Kelvin MacKenzie, who has tried to claim that he was misinformed by the police. In fact, the book “Stick It Up Your Punter!: The Uncut Story of the Sun Newspaper” by Chippindale and Horrie says that the chief reporter at the time

“did not like the look of some of”

the copy that he had been given, although the

“agencies whose names were on it were reliable”.

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The book continues:

“In his opinion it now needed handling as delicately as a ticking bomb. Seeking out MacKenzie, he confided his fears. ‘We’ve got to be really careful with this stuff…These are only allegations’”.

The front page that was eventually published was obviously a real concern for staff at The Sun at the time:

“As MacKenzie’s layout was seen by more and more people a collective shudder ran through the office. There was an instant gut feeling that that it was a terrible mistake. The trouble was that nobody seemed able to do anything about it. By now MacKenzie’s dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in”.

That is worth mentioning, as Mr MacKenzie has said it was the police’s fault and they owed him an apology. Clearly, he had lots of information and advice, but he ignored it and ran the statements he did.

The 1998 debate said many of the things that we know to be true today, especially about the 3.15 pm cut-off, and the police statements that my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) and I saw and raised in the debate. The Stuart-Smith report said that there was no reason to reconsider those points, and that needs looking at. Dr Ed Walker was one of the doctors who treated people on that day, and he raised the possibility of people surviving after that time, but he was ignored.

What happened on that day is a scandal and a disgrace.

5.47 pm

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement, praise the panel for its work and express my profound respect for the Hillsborough families.

Despite successive reports, it is unlikely that everyone will agree on every detail of the awful events of 15 April 1989. Each person, depending on how they were placed and why they were there, will have their own slightly different perspective, but I am sure that they would all agree on one thing. No one, whether supporter, player, steward, policeman, or council or FA official, whether partly responsible or utterly blameless, would not if they could go back in time do absolutely everything they could to prevent something like from this happening. That is because the victims, as we know now, were not ticketless or drunken or badly behaved, but those to whom all owed a duty of care. It simply should not have happened, and we now know that, for a whole range of different reasons, it could have been prevented from happening.

When the story was told, people saw different things and offered different explanations, and obviously some had a different agenda other than simply to get the facts out in the open. The South Yorkshire police, for example, were aware from the start that potential civil and criminal liability was an issue, and they got the lawyers in. What shocked me most reading the report was the tampering with the evidence of their own officers and their apparent complicity with misrepresentation in the media. The tampering was of a very formal kind; we have heard some horrific examples, but it was more institutional than that. They drew explicitly and openly on an unclear distinction that they made between opinion and fact, and then eliminated, with the knowledge of the West Midlands police and the assistance of their lawyers, a stream of inconvenient statements they had had from their own officers, including the plentiful references to

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“panic”, “chaos” and “disorganisation”. They were all eliminated as “just opinion”. They even changed evidence of “non-existent” radio communication to “hard to hear” radio communication. In other words, they engaged in an organised rewrite or editing of history. It was a clear institutional strategy. Admittedly, officers signed the amended scripts, but it would have been hard to insist on the re-inclusion of items that criticised their superiors and police performance, once they had been eliminated higher up—not exactly a smart career move.

I do not believe that the world is peopled by saints and sinners—as we have all learned, there are many shades of grey—and I dare say that some in South Yorkshire police thought they were doing the right thing. Many of us have met a lot of people involved on that day. I think, for example, of Norman Bettison, then chief constable for Merseyside, with whom many of us are acquainted in other contexts. Everyone needs a fair hearing, and there has to be a huge moral gulf between someone putting a good gloss on their own actions and those of their police force, and incriminating others, particularly those who can no longer defend themselves. That has to be reflected in any subsequent judgment.

Let us consider this: it took very little time for South Yorkshire police’s version of events to be established, broadcast and embedded in the public mind; it took 23 years for the families to do the same, and without their efforts the truth would be lost to history. As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming) said, that tells us something about this country. It tells us that there is a huge inequality, not of wealth, but of power—power to get a fair press, power to get information, power to get justice—and that raises big questions for Parliament. In this case, Parliament has been the last resort of the powerless, but we cannot be content with a world in which power is so badly and unequally distributed.

Liverpool people have a reputation for being stroppy—I do not know why—and for looking askance at the world. We do not need to go back many generations in any Liverpool family to come across an ingrained vein of grim Irish or Welsh fatalism and the belief that the world is not a fair place. The Hillsborough families have shown that that is not something we need put up with.

5.52 pm

Mr David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab): First, I want to reiterate what I said on 12 September, when the report was published, and commend the tenacity, drive and sheer breathtaking commitment of the families for what they have achieved with the support of politicians of differing parties and, in particular, my colleagues from Merseyside and my right hon. Friend—a friend outside, as well as inside, the House—the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham). I also commend the Bishop of Liverpool and the panel, who have shown that it is sometimes better not to have a judicially led inquiry. We might learn from that. I also want to reiterate what has been said about Ken Sutton and the secretariat, who were absolutely superb and had the most enormous job in getting to the kind of truth that was not seen and available elsewhere.

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I, like my hon. Friends the Members for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith) and for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), have been a lifelong supporter of Sheffield Wednesday. As such, I want to say that the hearts of the people of Sheffield are, as then, with the people of Merseyside and the families. On that terrible afternoon, kindness shone through the darkness: people took families and individuals into their homes around the ground, used telephones in a day when mobile telephones were not available, ran people back to Merseyside, where appropriate, and did their best to indicate a humanity that I hope we will also remember.

The debate has so far been of the highest order, and I want only to say one or two things that might add to it. I commenced representing Brightside in 1987. At the time, I did not hear from any thinking human being who genuinely believed that the deceased had anything to do with the events of that afternoon. How could they have anything to do with it, given that they were in the ground well in advance of 3 pm and so at the front of the dreadful pens that existed at the time? As I said two months ago, the tales that were made up and the way the so-called facts were reiterated demonstrated that we could only really rely on truth and justice being revealed when we had absolute transparency. Today, that is more possible, given mobile technology and the way everything is recorded—we have seen that in recent days—and that is a good thing, but it can only really work if there is a change of heart from the top down.

I want to refer to the three elements of the case—the events of the day, the cover-up and the inquest. I was not in the ground on the day, but I visited Northern General hospital the following morning and talked to those with minor injuries and to some of the parents. I was impressed by what the hon. Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley) said about Kevin’s mother, Anne, whom I heard on the radio a week last Friday, showing the most enormous dignity, having demonstrated the most enormous courage in pursuing this matter and having coped with what she has had to live with ever since. I do not know whether the inquest will bring any kind of peace, but it will certainly bring greater truth.

I understand that such an inquest has incredibly difficult barriers to overcome. The bar was set extremely high by those who took the civil case 12 years ago, and the Stuart-Smith inquiry set the bar at a height that makes it difficult, 23 years on, to achieve the kind of justice that those in the Gallery today rightly seek. What is absolutely sure, however, is that the cover-up must be revealed if we are to prevent such a thing from happening again. It is about culture and perception. The fact that on the day 116 officers wrote down what they believed had taken place but had their testimony altered is a testament to their efforts to tell the truth. The scandal was that senior management in South Yorkshire police and the West Midlands force—the latter has also been tellingly referred to this afternoon—overrode their decency and honesty. That is the lesson for us. The issue is about how senior management, not those at the bottom, should be pursued. I believe that 100 members of the 1989 force are still in place. I hope that their experiences in respect of senior management will be listened to and that they will not be made to feel that they are being pursued. Otherwise, we will get the wrong conclusion by pursuing the wrong people.

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As with the organisation and supervision on that tragic afternoon and as with the cover-up, the inquest, which, of course, turned out to be a scandal, was based on presumption and a particular perception of the fans. I say that regardless of what Bert McGee, with whom I am glad to say my relations were nil, might have written in the programme that afternoon. As the MP covering the stadium, I never repeated any of the garbage told to the then MP for Sheffield, Hallam, Sir Irvine Patnick. I believe that the perception had arisen out of the previous years—out of what had happened at Ibrox, Heysel and Birmingham, where two people were killed, and the hysteria around the situation with fans. Action by the Taylor committee was taken on the back of that. Here is a thought: the Taylor committee, which got to part of the truth, came out with recommendations that were more about dealing with fans than they were about the outcome or the truth and justice of what happened at Hillsborough in April 1989. We have to ensure, in detection and investigation in future, that that never happens again—that we do not have a police force or inquiries that build on existing perception, but that we genuinely try to get to what happened.

We have a challenge before us, because the truth is virtually out. The families are near to getting some sort of peace and settlement, if that is possible. The Parliament that we stand in today is revealing and opening up what has been covered up for 23 years, but to go forward we need to be able to pick up some of the issues around future transparency and strong outside investigation. My right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary referred to this issue. I was the one who set up the Independent Police Complaints Commission, because its predecessor, the Police Complaints Authority, was totally and utterly inadequate. I would like us to strengthen the IPCC immediately, because waiting to legislate on something new would not be the answer. Therefore, we should by all means provide greater powers, but this is also about process, as well as culture and enforcement. The top-down examples that I have referred to are about changing the way we operate our police service. This is also about what happened with the other emergency services—not least the ambulance service—which led to the terrible tragedy of those who might have been saved being left on that afternoon.

We are, 23 years later, trying to put right a wrong that is part of our history. We are trying to do so without undermining the morale and the feeling of service of those in the police and emergency services in South Yorkshire, who I have to care about because they are the ones who are serving my constituency and those of my hon. Friends. They need to know that, while we are getting to the truth and providing justice and accountability for the past, we are also mindful of their lives and their work, and that is why—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order.

6.2 pm

Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock) (Con): As Members of Parliament, we all have to deal on a daily basis with the consequences of what happens when the state fails. Thankfully, there are mercifully few occasions when the state fails as badly as it did the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. We should all be able to take it for granted that the state will make every endeavour to keep us safe. We

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should also take it for granted that the state will deliver justice and treat us fairly if we obey and abide by the law. Through the publication of this report, we have seen how spectacularly the state failed in those commitments to protect the victims of Hillsborough. The report also shows how the organs of the state colluded to deny the families justice for their loved ones. The families have now got the truth, but in doing so they have reminded us that the establishment is fallible. That is a very uncomfortable truth.

I am pleased to follow the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Mr Blunkett). Some of the things I will say follow on from the points he made. I was born and bred in Hillsborough, and I lived a mere stone’s throw away from the stadium. I remember that day very clearly, not least because friends and family were there, as stewards, spectators and police officers on duty. I should also advise the House that I was employed at South Yorkshire police in 1992. It is from that perspective that I would like to make a few comments.

South Yorkshire police has rightly been condemned for its failings as part of the tragedy, but it says a lot about Trevor Hicks that when the report was published and South Yorkshire police was criticised, he immediately chose to pay tribute to the individual members of South Yorkshire police who had behaved honourably and supported the victims. I draw attention to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley), who identified some of the officers who did exactly that. Although today is rightly about the victims of the tragedy and how we ensure that the same thing never happens again, I want to take a few moments of the House’s time to pay tribute to all the police officers of South Yorkshire who behaved professionally and honourably, but who are being unfairly maligned as a result of the criticism of the force. They should continue to feel proud of the contribution they make to keeping our communities safe. It should also be remembered that, as it was a football game, a number of the officers on duty were special constables, giving their time as volunteers.

Over the years, a number of police officers have shared with me their perspectives of what happened. Without exception, they have all recognised the failings of South Yorkshire police and, as highlighted by the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, the failings by the senior leadership on the day and subsequently. Those present on the day all report that there was chaos and a complete breakdown of leadership. What happened on the day was exacerbated by a failure of the leadership to acknowledge what had gone wrong, which can have been motivated only by a desire to protect the name of the force and individual officers. That is completely unacceptable. I hope that the inquiries by the IPCC will find those who were culpable and take appropriate action.

When I joined South Yorkshire police in 1992, I joined an organisation that was traumatised by the effects of the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath. As a consequence, the force had a mission to improve confidence in the service and to improve performance. To achieve that, a corporate affairs unit was established under Chief Superintendent Norman Bettison. Much has been made of his role in the disaster and subsequently, and the unit, which he supervised, has been the focus of discussion in the House before. It will be mentioned in

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this debate, too, but I should advise the House that as well as dealing with the aftermath of Hillsborough the unit dealt with much wider issues and was responsible for some significant changes in procedure and performance in the force.

The IPCC will obviously get to the bottom of where the wrongdoing took place. I do not think we should prejudge the outcome of those inquiries, but if systemic wrongdoing is found, senior officers cannot distance themselves from it. I was particularly disappointed that, immediately following publication of the report, the former chief constable of South Yorkshire police, Richard Wells, who succeeded Peter Wright—he is no longer with us and therefore no longer able to account for his role in these events—announced that, with regret, he had accepted the account of events given to him by officers, which was that

“statements had been looked at for criminal justice purposes and emotional, non-evidential material had been removed.”

It is just not good enough for any officer in a senior position to distance themselves from things that happened on their watch. Leadership means setting the style and tone of an organisation, and it means taking responsibility when things go wrong. Whether it was a systematic attempt at rewriting events or the activity of individual over-zealous officers, it is still not good enough for senior officers at the time to say that they did not know what was happening. They ought to have known. They are responsible, and we do not pay them healthy salaries so that they can abdicate responsibility when things go wrong. It now falls to the IPCC to identify where misconduct took place and who was culpable, but it should not have taken this long, and we should not have to rely on regulators and inquiries to get to the truth. We need to instil in public servants an emphasis on doing the right thing and on placing that ahead of protecting their reputations. The truth will out in the end.

I cannot finish without addressing the untruths that were published in The Sun and which did so much to set the tone in which the circumstances of the disaster came to be viewed. I was horrified to learn that the source of that material was a former Member of this House. Although it is recorded that the account was given by a police officer, his statement as published also records that another officer told him to take what he had heard with a pinch of salt. It is extremely regrettable that that advice was not heeded. As a result, an untrue account of events relating to the behaviour of fans was allowed to be perpetuated. It is that account which has denied them justice for so long. All of us in this House should never forget our role as community leaders; nor should we forget the respect that our comments command. We should never repeat anything unless we can be satisfied that it is the truth. In this context, careless talk has impeded justice.

It has taken an unacceptably long time for the victims’ families to get the truth, but I am massively inspired by their fight, and I hope that the fresh inquests and the investigations afforded by this report will give them the closure that they need from this awful tragedy.

6.9 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price), who made an eloquent and balanced speech drawing on

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her own experience and putting what we have heard over the past few days and weeks into the context of overall policing. I also want to pay tribute to the Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary. They both made outstanding speeches today, and they showed the House at its very best. The Government have reacted and, frankly, they have not put a foot wrong following the publication of the independent panel’s report. I am grateful to the Home Secretary for the way in which she has given her personal attention to this issue, knowing that, as Home Secretary, she has a lot of things to do. It is one of the toughest jobs, if not the toughest job, in the Government, but she has given this matter the necessary quality time.

The thoughts that the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), has expressed today on how to reconstruct the system for the future, and in particular on the way in which we should develop the Independent Police Complaints Commission, are very welcome. I saw today a desire from those on both Front Benches to work together to ensure that, as the Home Secretary said, from truth we shall get justice.

The Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary were present at the police bravery awards last Thursday, and I heard them both praise the British police as the finest in the world. That does not, however, take away from the fact of this damning report by the independent panel into what happened 23 years ago. I want to pay tribute to Members on both sides of the House for the way in which they have prosecuted the cause of the families, who have struggled so hard in very difficult circumstances to get justice.

Today, I want to concentrate on the future, because there is a danger that, despite all the good will and all the work being done by the various agencies, we could lose track of precisely how we are going to arrive at a conclusion on this subject. I want to refer to the evidence given by David Compton, the South Yorkshire chief constable, when he appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee last Tuesday. We are not holding another inquiry into Hillsborough. We have had the definitive inquiry. All that the Committee wishes to do is monitor on a regular basis what is happening, just as we have done with Operation Weeting, which was set up following the phone hacking scandal. We will therefore call back the chief constable and the families on a four-monthly basis to ensure that things are going in the right direction. We are not holding an inquiry.

The chief constable gave excellent evidence. He was forthright and transparent, and he promised that he would write to the IPCC by last Friday with the names of the officers who were involved in some way in what happened at Hillsborough. As I said earlier, the names of 1,444 officers have now been sent to the IPCC, of whom 304 are still serving in the South Yorkshire force. It immediately becomes clear, given the number of names involved, that there will be a problem with resources. I welcome what the Home Secretary has said about that today, but she should not wait for the IPCC to come to see her. A meeting should be convened pretty quickly to ask the IPCC what it needs, and to give it those resources. I am watching the Home Secretary’s face as I speak, and I am sure that she has already fixed such a meeting. We often say in the House, “If they need the resources, they should come and ask for them”, but we should go to the IPCC and offer it what it needs.

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We also received evidence last week from the families themselves. Many of their names have already appeared in parliamentary reports, including those of Trevor Hicks, Jenny Hicks, Margaret Aspinall and Sheila Coleman. They all came and gave evidence to us, alongside Lord Falconer, who is advising the Hillsborough families. They were concerned about co-ordination and they suggested that the Director of Public Prosecutions should have overall superintendence of the various agencies. However, I am not absolutely convinced that it would be the best course of action to place this matter into the hands of the DPP, another very busy senior official.

I favour the idea of appointing a special prosecutor to look into all these cases and to act as a co-ordination point, because it is really important that we wrap this up in the personality of one person. I put the idea to the Home Secretary right at the start that this could perhaps be done by Tom Winsor, the new chief inspector of constabulary. This is a role for the inspectorate. It should not be about police officers investigating police officers; it should involve someone completely new coming into the system to look into it. I do not know whether he has the resources to do that. There are a number of other people who could take on the task. I would also like to throw in the name of Denis O’Connor. He has just stood down from the role of chief inspector of constabulary, and would therefore be unburdened by day-to-day management duties. We need a figure with experience who can command respect and who can bring all the various agencies together.

I am glad that the Home Secretary said that she would hold meetings this week. It is really important that we take on board what the families say, and that we try to cut through the bureaucracy that will inevitably result from all the agencies trying to do their very best by those families, and by the stated views of Members on both sides of the House, as I am sure they will do. I hope that we can reach a conclusion quickly.

I am glad that the Home Secretary was able to see the Hillsborough families. They had contacted her office before they came to appear before the Committee, but they said that they had not received a definitive reply. I was therefore pleased that she was able to meet them at such short notice. It is they who have been driving this whole issue over the past 23 years, and we should put them right at the centre of what we are seeking to do. We all have our views and opinions but, at the end of the day, it is the families who should turn to Parliament and say, “We need closure, and this is how we are going to get it.”

The hon. Member for Elmet and Rothwell (Alec Shelbrooke) mentioned Norman Bettison earlier. I was surprised recently to be rung up by The Times newspaper and to be told that, 23 years ago, I had been to a briefing meeting held by the police officers who had policed Hillsborough, and that I had left the meeting before the end. The press asked me why I had done that, and I had to tell them that I cannot remember what I did last week, and that I certainly cannot remember what I did 23 years ago. I can only imagine the detail of the reports of such meetings, if Norman Bettison was able to write in his report that Keith Vaz had left a meeting early, as though that suggested something pejorative about the way in which the meeting had been conducted. Officers in the South Yorkshire police force were clearly keeping detailed notes on what Members of Parliament were doing in the meetings that they had organised in

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order to discuss these issues. We should give the IPCC the opportunity to make a judgment on Norman Bettison’s case. I know what the families feel, and I have heard what he has said today.

We should also look at the whole way in which policing operates at the moment. There are a lot of different cases going on. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) has raised some questions in the press today, and I know that he will raise them in Parliament when he speaks. The fact is that we need to look at the new policing landscape. The Government are right to try to change it with the creation of the National Crime Agency and the new college. All these issues need to be addressed. I am not convinced that we should reform the IPCC in the middle of these negotiations, but we can clearly take on board what the shadow Home Secretary has said about giving it additional powers so that it can complete these investigations properly.

The Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into the IPCC, and tomorrow we shall see Marie Rigg, the mother of Sean Rigg. For years, she has felt that his case was not properly dealt with by the IPCC, so the Hillsborough families are not alone in criticising the organisation. We want to hold a proper inquiry and give proper recommendations to the Home Office, taking on board what the shadow Home Secretary and others have said. At the end of the day, according to the families, the only way to get closure will be for people to be prosecuted for what happened. Who those people are, Parliament does not know at this moment. All that we can do is ensure that we have a good, robust process so that justice can finally be done.


6.19 pm

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): I should like to start by praising the families who fought on and on for 23 years to get to where we are today. I want to talk to the public about the impact of what we are discussing. Football is a great joiner of people. Since I have come to this place, I have developed an excellent friendly relationship with the hon. Member representing Liverpool, Wavertree—[Hon. Members: “Walton.”] That is a good start: I mean the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram). That relationship comes down to the bond that people gather from being football fans. Although we sit on totally opposite sides of the political divide, we get on exceptionally well through our love of football. Football binds many people together. My sister is an Arsenal fan whereas my brother-in-law is a Liverpool fan, and they live in Sheffield. Quite where on the football spectrum my niece and nephew will end up remains to be seen, but what about the prospect of their going to a football match—something that binds together people who love the game—13 years from now, when they will be 16 and 14, and a terrible incident occurring?

Some people might dismiss this debate as having gone on too long or believe that these matters should not have been dug up again. There are people who have made such comments, but I ask them how they would feel if a family member—a niece or nephew, say, if they do not have children—lost their life going to one of the events that so many people in this country go to, watch, enjoy and love, and were then effectively told that it was all their fault anyway? What if they then saw an establishment war against them, which is effectively what has happened over 23 years?

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I came into politics because, I am sure like many people, I wanted to defend people who need to be spoken up for. I have a big thing about bullies; I hate them, yet I see them in so many aspects of life, using their position to bully others. As my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley) said in his excellent speech, people were bullied into changing their statements. All that came about because people had made a mistake. The police made mistakes, but instead of standing up and admitting the terrible mistakes that they made that day, they tried to push the blame on to those who had no reason whatever to have that blame put upon them. I think that every single person in this country needs to think about that and about the events they go to enjoy together as a family. They should think about how they would feel if a disastrous event took place and they were blamed for what had happened.

I remember being at school when this event happened—I was 13—and hearing some of the comments made the next day about what The Sun had said. Even in south- east England, school children and others were very uncomfortable about the newspaper coverage. Many people went into shock—this was more than a general sense of shock—about what had happened. I remember reading the Sunday newspapers along with my parents the next day, and I clearly recall seeing a picture of somebody being crushed up against the fence. It had a deep impact on me. The following day a newspaper came out with “The Truth” plastered across it, and some accusations were made. Let us remember what they were. It was claimed that people, including children, were drunk. It was said that people were pickpocketing the dead, urinating on dead bodies and attacking police officers. If that was true, why was nobody arrested, as there were plenty of police there? There were plenty of television cameras there, too, recording all the events, but no arrests were made and no evidence ever came forward.

This leads me on to my comments about the chief constable of West Yorkshire, Norman Bettison. I am not standing here today to say that Sir Norman Bettison is guilty of any crime. I am not saying that, but what I am saying is that he edited, as he was asked to do, the video footage of what went on that day. I think that over 60 hours of footage was brought down to 30 minutes. Subsequently, questions have been raised about whether pressure was applied by people such as Norman Bettison when he was the chief constable to get police officers to change their statements. I know that many more speeches today will address that issue directly.

When I look at the press release from the West Yorkshire policy authority, I see that the authority committee referred the matter to the chair of the special committee, whose role was

“to oversee all conduct matters involving chief officer ranks, including the Chief Constable.”

The second press release stated that that committee

“will decide whether any conduct matters or public complaints about the Chief Constable should be recorded and whether any matters should also be referred to the IPCC as a result.”

One charge that the IPCC is looking into is that Sir Norman tried to influence that committee not to refer him. That may or may not be true, but that is one of the charges brought. If the public are to have faith in any report

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that comes out from the IPCC, they must be absolutely 100% convinced that no undue influence was brought to bear on that process. Frankly, that is the accusation being levelled against it. With someone involved in the investigation who has effectively been charged with involvement in a cover-up now having to face a new charge of trying to influence the police authority, their position must be untenable if the public are to have faith in the report that comes out.

I emphasise again that I am not saying whether Sir Norman Bettison is guilty or innocent, as that is what an investigation is for. What I am saying is that for the public to have faith in any report that is produced, he should either be suspended or, if a mechanism cannot be found, offer his own suspension from duty. He should not take retirement. I have heard Sir Norman’s warm words:

“Recent weeks have caused me to reflect on what is best for the future of policing in West Yorkshire, and I have now decided to set a firm date for my retirement. I hope”,

he said, that his departure

“will enable the Independent Police Complaints Commission to fully investigate allegations that have been raised about my integrity.”

I disagree. I do not think he should take early retirement. I think that his early retirement date should be held until we get to the end of an investigation so that he can be held to account in respect of his current role.

Mr Frank Field: Will not the things that the hon. Gentleman has said today make it more difficult to hold the chief constable to account?

Alec Shelbrooke: I am sorry, I did not quite catch that.

Mr Field: Might not the hon. Gentleman’s wish for somebody to be held to account be made that much more difficult to achieve by the contribution he has just made?

Alec Shelbrooke: I would hope not. My point is that if he suspended himself and removed himself from any investigation, the public could have faith in any report that is produced. I did not level the new charge—that he tried to interfere with West Yorkshire policy authority—against him; it was the IPCC that levelled that charge. After 23 years, the public must have faith in any report that is brought out.

Mr Anderson: Is it not a fact that in the vast majority of employment cases, where an issue is raised or accusations are made against a worker—and this man is a worker—that worker would almost certainly be suspended, regardless of what they had to say about the allegations? If the allegations were made, they would be suspended, particularly in order to prevent any interference with any records or paperwork. That would happen to virtually anybody in this country, so why should it not happen to this man?

Alec Shelbrooke: I am most grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. He will have heard me intervene on the shadow Home Secretary earlier. Her answer made it very clear that she and the Home Secretary did not have the ability to be involved, which is why I said that if there is a mechanism whereby the person in

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question can offer himself for suspension, that is what should happen. I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not casting judgment on him; what I am saying is that this House, the public, the victims and their families need to know that when this process is finished, no more questions will be left unanswered. There should be no more theories about whether someone influenced a report; only then can peace be brought to those families. They must know that the full truth is out there; those found to be responsible must face up to the consequences; and we must close this dreadful, shameful chapter in our country’s history.

Finally, I want to make a point about what my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price) said. I simply cannot understand how such an experienced politician as the then Member of Parliament for Sheffield, Hallam was able to go to journalists and report as fact rumours about which he had been told. I am thinking particularly of what appears on page 351 of the report, to which my hon. Friend referred:

“‘Some of the supporters were pissed out of their minds. They were pissing on us while we were pulling the dead and injured out…they were swearing at us kicking and punching us and hampering our work’. One seated showed me the marks of the kicks on his left trouser leg and the marks on his skin.”

The report goes on to mention what fans were said to have yelled about what they would do with a girl who was naked. An off-duty sergeant is said to have given this information to the then Member of Parliament. We also read on page 351 that

“‘senior officers advised Mr Patnick to take what he had heard ‘with a pinch of salt’.”

Those accusations should make every one of us angry. I am angry, and I cannot imagine what the families must feel about the fact that a Member of this House fed those allegations to the newspapers, and into the general stream of information that was going around the country, when a senior police officer had told him to take them with a pinch of salt.

At the end of the process, those who are found to have deliberately peddled that story must be prosecuted for defamation of character, because that is what it was: besmirching the names of the dead was a defamation of character. It is not good enough, and I hope that we shall never see a repeat of it in the House. I also hope that one outcome will be that we all remember—this was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock—that we, as politicians, are in a very powerful position. Our words matter, and we must never peddle rumours and, consequently, untruths.

6.31 pm

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op): Many Members on both sides of the House have made impassioned speeches, and many have presented arguments that I wish to present as well. I shall therefore use my brief contribution to reinforce some of their points, as well as adding some of my own.

Let me begin by adding my voice to the tributes that other Members have paid to the families of the 96 victims. The publication of the independent panel’s report lays bare the double injustice that they have suffered for far too long, and is a major step forward in their search for truth and justice. However, as all of us who are taking part in the debate well know, the report represents not the end of that struggle, but merely the beginning of a new chapter. For 23 years the families and survivors have

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been let down, and we owe it to them to ensure that we do everything possible to ensure that they finally get the justice they deserve.

I want to record my thanks to the Bishop of Liverpool and the members of his panel for the forensic work that they did on the report. It is testimony to the bishop’s efforts that the Home Secretary confirmed today that she wished to retain him as an adviser on all matters connected with Hillsborough. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) and my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) for the work that they did when in government. They called for the release of documentation, and set up the independent panel. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram), who has been a powerful and passionate advocate for justice for the victims of Hillsborough. I am sure that we shall hear him speak movingly later this evening.

I welcome the Government’s decision to set aside time for the debate. I also welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement that, if the Attorney-General approves, a special prosecutor will be appointed to examine the possibility of criminal charges. That will be an unusual step, but it is clearly necessary given the nature of the tragedy, the extent of the cover-up, the pain that too many have suffered over two decades, and the many agencies that are implicated.

I support the calls from my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the shadow Home Secretary, for the introduction of new powers to compel police officers to give evidence to the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s inquiry into Hillsborough. I also welcome the Attorney-General’s decision to make an application to the High Court for new inquests to take place, and join other Members in asking him to ensure that the process is completed as quickly as possible. New inquests are vital if the wrongs of the past are to be righted. Although the original coroner’s report returned a verdict of accidental death, the independent panel’s report clearly shows that the deaths of 96 innocent people that day were anything but accidental. That verdict must be overturned.

The deaths and suffering of the survivors were a result of systematic failures by football authorities, the police and the emergency services before, during and after what happened on that tragic day, 15 April 1989. It was clear before the game that the stadium was not a safe venue. The independent panel’s report shows that the risks were already known before 1989, and that the crush was therefore avoidable. The ground did not have an up-to-date safety certificate, and problems with congestion at the Leppings Lane end had already occurred during the 1981 and 1987 FA cup semi-finals. There had been actual crushing during the 1988 semi-final the year before, but little action had been taken as a result. Although some work had been done between 1981 and 1987, it was not sufficient to ensure that the ground met minimum safety standards. The fact that the ground was used for such a high-profile match, without an up-to-date safety certificate, shows a complete lack of concern for fan safety.

On the match day itself, key safety procedures were not followed. There was a failure to recognise that the turnstiles were inadequate, or to foresee the problems that would be caused by not sealing off the tunnel

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leading to the central pens. The response in the immediate aftermath of the crush was appalling. A general failure on the part of the emergency services to recognise what was happening was compounded by the failure to execute major incident plans correctly. Those mistakes cost lives.

Afterwards, a concerted and shameful cover-up of those mistakes began with the blaming of innocent victims. Hundreds of police statements were doctored and amended. The original coroner’s report set an arbitrary 3.15 pm cut-off time; the only reason for that seems to have been a desire to excuse the failings of the emergency services. The blood alcohol levels of those who had been killed—even children—were checked without consent. There was collusion between senior figures in the police force, the political sphere and the media to perpetrate a campaign to smear the fans and innocent victims. Despite the finding of the Taylor inquiry that the police were at fault, not a single officer responsible for the conduct of the police that day has been disciplined or prosecuted.

Those failings, and what in some cases appear to be specific acts of criminality, need to be investigated and exposed in more detail than is allowed by the time afforded to me, or even to today’s debate. That leaves the question of who is best placed to conduct such investigations. As my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood said in the House on the day the report was published, this cover-up, the lies, and the failure to bring prosecutions show a complete failing on the part of our legal system. Securing justice for the families of the victims must of course be our immediate priority, but once that process is complete, we must also consider the wider failings of our legal system. The fact that a public inquiry, a judicial inquiry, and the coroner’s inquest in the 1980s and 1990s failed to establish the truth of what happened at Hillsborough is deeply disturbing, and such a situation must never be repeated.

I think that it is clear from the report, and from today’s debate, that a number of things need to happen. First, the Attorney-General should submit his promised application for new inquests as soon as possible. Secondly, if that application is successful, it is crucial for the inquests to be held in Liverpool, for the costs to be borne by central Government rather than by any local authority, and—most important—for no legal costs to be borne by the families. The Home Secretary said this afternoon that her Department was looking into that, and I hope that its response will be favourable. Thirdly, a special prosecutor needs to be appointed and given the powers to conduct a full inquiry—including powers to question the police—in order to determine what criminal charges can and should be brought.

What happened at Hillsborough 23 years ago was a terrible tragedy that could have been prevented. It has been made worse by a shameful cover-up by parts of the very institutions that are meant to protect us. Now that we have the truth, we all have a duty to the 96 victims, their families and the survivors to secure justice and ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

6.40 pm

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) concludes by rightly saying nothing like this must ever

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happen again. Sadly, however, there are other cover-ups going on at the moment. The Hillsborough independent panel report states:

“The disclosed documents show that the bereaved families met a series of obstacles in their search for justice.”

The hon. Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley) highlighted a case going all the way through to the European Court of Human Rights and the truth not coming out. We must learn from Hillsborough, and from other cover-ups, and work to get greater transparency so that such cover-ups never happen again.

On Friday, my Family Justice (Transparency, Accountability and Cost of Living) Bill will receive its Second Reading. It should, perhaps, be re-titled the “No more cover-ups Bill”. In the case of Hillsborough, there was a cover-up. There was also pressure placed on police officers not to complain. In the case of Jimmy Savile, there was a cover-up, too. There was also pressure placed on people not to complain—ironically, by banning them from watching the TV and withdrawing other privileges.

As a country, we do little to support whistleblowers. Clause 7(2) of my private Member’s Bill aims to stop people threatening others to stop them complaining. Only last week, I received a report from a fellow Member about one of her constituents being threatened.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I know the hon. Gentleman wants to discuss his Bill, but he knows that we are not doing so today. He also knows how important Hillsborough is, and how many people are present who are very concerned about the events that took place there. I therefore ask him to speak to the subject in hand, rather than drifting on to the topic of his Bill, which I know he has a keen interest in.

John Hemming: I take that point, Mr Deputy Speaker. My concern is that we have other cover-ups going on, and I would have thought that it is in order to discuss them and how to prevent them. I will not refer to my Bill, however.

In England, it is even possible to get a court order that stops a complaint being made. The Hillsborough case went as far as the House of Lords and involved inquests, inquiries and judicial reviews, but the truth did not come out until there was an independent panel.

My own view is that we need to be willing to look at cover-up allegations by establishing committees of inquiry in Parliament. However, there are other things that could be done to improve the accountability of public officials. Judicial review proceedings are used to deal with the accountability of public officials, and they were used in dealing with Hillsborough. The General Medical Council is also subject to judicial review. However, public bodies have very deep pockets, and there are cost risks for ordinary individuals if the costs of such a process are not covered by public funding. If cost limitations on judicial review are not set at an early stage, ordinary people cannot take on the system—the GMC, perhaps, or a local council planning decision, or a coroner as in the Hillsborough case.

In the case of Hillsborough, judicial review did not provide an adequate system of scrutiny; that was made clear in paragraph 2.9.100 of the report. One of the difficulties with criminal prosecutions and regulatory

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actions is that all the processes are somewhat remote from the people affected. At paragraph 2.9.114 Terri Sefton is reported as stating,

“none of the questions that she had wanted answered had been answered.”

We need greater transparency and accountability. We know, for example, that the Slovak Republic has identified 40 cases in the English courts involving 89 children where it does not think the legally correct decision has been taken, yet they have gone through our system without any challenge. To me, that is a serious criticism of the system.

The system also has an automatic cover-up in that the media in the UK are prevented from discussing details of what has been going on. Even academic researchers are banned from looking at these secret cases, to see if the decisions are sensible. More recently, it has become clear that one of the people involved in the Haut de la Garenne scandal was Jimmy Savile. Hillsborough happened in 1989, and the Savile issues arose many years ago. However, the US—

Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. As you are well aware, the motion on the Order Paper relates specifically to Hillsborough. Time is at a premium, and many Members want to speak about those events. Is the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming) not creeping out of order here?

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I am aware that we are drifting from the topic under discussion. I have brought the hon. Gentleman back to the subject being debated once before, and I am sure he does want to speak about Hillsborough, and that is what he will do for the rest of his speech.

John Hemming: I do want to speak about Hillsborough, but there are similar cases that go before the Europe courts. Unless we solve the systemic problems and ensure that cover-ups do not continue, there will be further cover-ups. I am sure the Hillsborough families wish to see the system changed so that such situations do not happen again. I will not mention any of the other relevant examples at present, but, over time, we must look at them, because, as the Minister accepted earlier, the system is very vulnerable to cover-ups.

Steve Rotheram: I cannot speak for all Hillsborough families, but the Hillsborough families I know would absolutely agree that there should be no more cover-ups. However, they have fought for 23 years for the opportunity to come to this House and hear politicians speak about the Hillsborough independent panel report, and I think the hon. Gentleman is drifting far from that topic.

John Hemming: It is interesting how many Members are taking on the role of the Speaker today. I accept the hon. Gentleman’s point, however.

Let me return to the comments in my prepared speech: it is to be hoped that the report of the Hillsborough independent panel will provide closure for the families. They need justice, and they have now got to the truth. Parliament needs to learn from this and stop the culture of cover-up. There must be no more cover-ups.

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6.47 pm

Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): My hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Derek Twigg) listed a number of authorities, from the football club that is based at Hillsborough through to the media, that, to say the least, made mistakes, crass errors or whatever one wants to call them. When dealing with the issues the report highlights, the one point it is impossible to get one’s head around is the motives of those people who were involved in this complex series of mistakes. We can, perhaps, understand that the club was desirous of the revenue coming in from hosting such a prestigious game, but the subsequent actions of a number of senior people in the police, the emergency services and the media lead us to the conclusion that their motives were completely scurrilous.

Two of the 41 victims who, it appears, lived beyond 3.15 pm were my constituents, and another of my constituents also died. Let me quote the comments of the brother of one of those constituents. Nick Delaney’s brother, James, died, and he said in response to a local press inquiry about the Attorney-General’s report:

“I’m over the moon. It’s great news. I didn’t expect it to be as quick. I just hope they push it through now. People need to trust the police again”.

That is very true.

The difficulty we face is that because of the complex interaction of all these issues, we know that we cannot promise the Hillsborough victims’ families any form of instant justice. We are going down the right path and, as long as Members in this House continue to work together in a collegiate manner, I am hopeful that we will get somewhere towards achieving justice for the victims and their families.

The coroner’s court has been mentioned. I am hopeful that there will be a fresh coroners hearing, and I certainly think it would be totally inappropriate for that to be in Sheffield. I am open-minded as to where else it should be; somewhere else in the north-west may be appropriate. There is a school of thought that says Liverpool may not be the best place to hold it, but somewhere else in the north-west where the court would be accessible to the victims’ families might be considered as an appropriate venue.

I want to deal briefly with the issues associated with the media. The Home Secretary used a phrase to which we all ought to listen: “after the apology, accountability.” That comment applies particularly to people such as Kelvin MacKenzie. It is mission critical that we re-establish —somehow—confidence in the media. As with the police, the media must have the confidence of the people in the country. I want to refer to what he said, where he said he got it from and what others have said.

Kelvin MacKenzie has, apparently, asked South Yorkshire police to apologise to him for the “vilification” he has received. That seems extraordinary because, as the Home Secretary said, after the apology comes the accountability and he was the accountable person in that newsroom. A police spokesman has said that

“Mr MacKenzie was responsible for the particular headline he chose to run with.”

Irrespective of one source that he got, just as the police need to follow every line of inquiry, so should a respectable journalist. He is now seeking to pass the blame on to his source and he claims to have been

“deeply affected by the affair”.

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Interestingly, former Sun reporter Harry Arnold has now broken his long silence. He apparently wrote a substantial part of the story and was “aghast” when he saw the headline “The Truth”. The book that my hon. Friend the Member for Halton quoted from clearly says that that was the feeling within the newsroom. After the apology comes accountability, so I hope that every outlet for Mr MacKenzie’s work reflects on that statement before hiring him again, because he has done a huge disservice to justice by reinforcing the mistakes made on that day.

The mistakes are covered in great detail, graphic detail, horrendous detail in the report, and I, too, praise the work of the Bishop of Liverpool and his team. I also want to put on the record my thanks to the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General for following through the work started by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) when he was a Minister. The fact that this has brought the House together in pursuit of justice will, I hope, lead us to create a culture where events such as these can never happen again in this country. That will never bring back the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, but I hope that it will be a legacy from which the whole country can benefit.

6.54 pm

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): I welcome this report, and I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) and the hon. Members for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) and for Halton (Derek Twigg) for all they have done over many, many years. This tragic event has finally received the independent scrutiny it deserves, and I thank the Bishop of Liverpool for his forensic and exhaustive report, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General for their commitment to justice.

The report’s findings have confirmed what witnesses and the families of the victims have always maintained: the allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence were deliberately and maliciously spread by the police, the authorities and elements of the media. It is difficult, looking back now, to understand the culture and attitudes towards football fans in the 1970s and 1980s. As a Manchester United fan who attended matches during this period, I know that a small minority of people gave the beautiful game a bad reputation. The distrust with which football fans were viewed gave some individual members of the authorities a smokescreen behind which they could hide. The fans who visited that fateful day, who included the hon. Members for Liverpool, Walton and for Halton, were, it was implied, the architects of their own demise.

I recall the days in 1989 when I visited Old Trafford and the hostile and somewhat aggressive attitude of the police that we encountered when we arrived at the ground for a game. I am amused when I think of the people I used to go there with and the positions they now occupy in modern society—perhaps we wish we had known then what we know now, as we might not have been so compliant. I also remember BBC Radio 5’s Alan Green mentioning that he went to a Sheffield United game a few days after the Hillsborough disaster and saw members of the South Yorkshire police laughing

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and joking while they were looking after the crowd. He shared with his listeners his disbelief that police officers could be laughing and joking such a short time after that tragedy.

I am thankful that many of the contributing factors that led to the events on 15 April 1989 have led to reform. Notably, standing has been removed at matches, and more rigorous health and safety policies at football grounds and comprehensive crowd management policies have been implemented. What we used to go through in the 1970s bears no resemblance to what we find at the modern game. However, we now know that many of these issues had been highlighted in the lead-up to the disaster, as the hon. Member for Halton highlighted in his excellent speech. The revelation that at the same match a year previously there had also been a crush at the Leppings Lane end must make us ask exactly how and why lessons were not learned. Crowds of men, women and children went into the pens at Leppings Lane when the authorities knew full well that their lives were at risk.

The failures of the police, the stadium management and the other emergency services are clear. There is responsibility, and it was avoided through a systematic abuse of power. The report found that 164 statements were significantly amended and criticism of police actions was removed in 116 of them. Blame was deliberately placed on the victims. Vicious and wholly untrue allegations were passed to and published by the media. Those allegations, it has finally been revealed, were the reported conversation between South Yorkshire police and the then Member for Sheffield, Hallam. The public, sections of the media and Parliament were deliberately misled. We have to ask why West Midlands police were used as an independent police force to investigate South Yorkshire police, given that a few years earlier, in the early 1980s, their serious crime squad had been investigated and found guilty of corruption. I hope and believe that some senior officers from that force will be held to account.

The conclusion of the coroner’s inquest and the practices used, once again, seemed to seek to deflect blame from the police on to the victims. The checking of children’s blood alcohol levels served no purpose whatsoever, except to reinforce perceptions of lawless drunkenness. As a proud father who takes his children to football matches, I can only imagine the distress that this must have caused those families. The conclusion that by 3.15 pm no one could have been saved failed to take into account the individual circumstances of each victim’s death and sought to suggest a powerlessness on behalf of the authorities to reduce the death toll, as was well mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley). We must wait for a new inquest before definitive conclusions can be made, but the report’s findings suggest that lives could and should have been saved, and that makes my blood run cold.

It has been a long, long fight for the truth to be made public, but I believe that justice will be done. I welcome the Attorney-General’s commitment, I welcome the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s decision to investigate wrongdoing by the police, and I welcome The Sun’s front page story, “The real truth”. We have an opportunity to do right by the families of the victims, the 96 themselves and all football fans, past, present and future.

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7 pm

Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) (Lab): I welcome the opportunity to speak and to raise with the Home Secretary and Home Office Ministers many of the questions West Lancashire constituents have asked me since the publication of the Hillsborough independent panel’s report.

Amazingly, it is 12 months since I and many hon. Members in the Chamber today stood in this place and asked for the disclosure and publication of all documents relating to Hillsborough. That day we called for the truth and now we have it, but the fight for justice continues and will do so until it is secured. Gandhi said:

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”

Liverpool people were never frightened of the truth, so, as we move on to the next stage, I am reminded that Benjamin Disraeli said that

“justice is truth in action.”—[Official Report, 11 February 1851; Vol. 114, c. 412.]

It is that action that we now welcome, and we seek assurances that the process will be seen through to the very end, delivering justice.

I join other hon. Members in welcoming the Attorney-General’s announcement that the original inquests into the 96 deaths will be quashed; the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s investigation; the Director for Public Prosecutions’ inquiry; and the comments made by the Home Secretary today. Those are certainly steps in the right direction and are welcomed as progress towards justice, but I believe the depth of the cover-up and how it spread throughout the institutions of the police, Government and the media demand that everybody be required to give evidence, whether they are retired or serving police officers or even insurance companies. There can be no place to hide for anyone when it comes to one of the darkest events in modern British history.

Before I move on to the specific questions and issues raised with me, I want to put on record my gratitude and respect, and that of my constituents, for the members of the Hillsborough independent panel and their excellent work in bringing the truth about Hillsborough into the public domain. In particular, like so many of my hon. Friends, I want to mention the chairmanship of the Right Rev. James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool. A constituent who came to my advice surgery described Bishop James as “the shepherd”. Everyone associated with the panel felt the warmth of his guidance, his care and his truthfulness and, like a shepherd, Bishop James looked after his flock and led them to the safety of the truth.

On the issues my constituents have raised with me and the questions on which I hope Ministers can shed some light, with all the documents now in the public domain, my constituents have had the opportunity to search through them and have brought to my attention concerns about missing documents. One constituent gave a witness statement to West Midlands police and was visited twice by officers and shown videos of Hillsborough, but his statement does not appear in the documents provided to the independent panel. That situation is very strange, given that he obtained a copy of his statement in 2004. He tells me that other people are in the same position. It appears that not all the statements have been provided to the panel and I would be grateful if the Home Secretary could look into that matter, find out what has happened to those statements,

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and either ensure that all the documents relating to Hillsborough are published or give the reasons why they were not provided.

Throughout the coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, the focus on South Yorkshire police, the Government’s actions and the complicity of sections of the national media and those who perpetuated the lies that were told has been considerable. However, the Football Association appears largely to have disappeared below the radar, but it chose the venue that led to the events unfolding that day and allowed the game to take place in a venue without the appropriate safety certificates. There is no question about the culpability of the Football Association in the entire fiasco, but it has been distinctly quiet in recent months apart from its attempt to apologise immediately following the publication of the report. My constituents have asked when the FA will be held to account by the various investigations and inquiries. Will it come within the scope of the criminal investigation?

I have also been asked whether the coroner and his collusion with South Yorkshire police will be included in the criminal investigation. Given the historical problems of crowd safety at Hillsborough, why were 100 fewer police officers on duty in 1989 than at the 1988 FA cup semi-final at the same ground? There were actually fewer officers there than in 1987. Many of my constituents would also wholeheartedly applaud any action against Sir Norman Bettison for his role in Hillsborough. There are certainly precedents for reconsidering and potentially removing his knighthood.

Constituents have also asked what action can be taken against those sections of the media that were complicit in perpetuating the lies. Let us be clear that that did not happen just in the immediate aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. The Taylor report exonerated Liverpool fans from any blame, but the lies about that day at Hillsborough in 1989 were continually repeated. Only the publication of the independent panel’s report has stopped the lies being told and I would welcome the Home Secretary’s guidance on that.

The experience of Hillsborough is a watershed in the political, social and legal landscape of Britain. Much is still to be resolved. I had the great privilege of attending the vigil at St George’s hall on 12 September following the publication of the report—an emotional day for so many people. As I stood on the steps outside the hall, the sense of sadness and vindication after 23 years was palpable. It will live for a long time with anyone who was there. I look forward to a similar day when it can be said that justice has finally been done for the 96. A considerable amount has been said and written about Hillsborough, yet for us all the silence of the 96 will remain for ever the strongest and most powerful statement.

7.8 pm