U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron apologized for the injustices, cover-up and misinformation surrounding the 1989 Hillsborough soccer disaster, in which 96 people died.
The “deeply distressing” findings of a report published today into the event and its aftermath by James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, show that police doctored evidence and briefed the media to hide their failings, Cameron said today. The inquests into the deaths were also geared to protect the reputation of the emergency services, he told lawmakers.
“On behalf of the government, and indeed our country, I’m profoundly sorry,” Cameron told the House of Commons in London. “While nothing can ever bring back those that were lost, with all the documents revealed and nothing held back, the families at last have access to the truth.”
There was no evidence that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government played a part in the cover-up after the deaths when standing spectators were crushed at the Hillsborough stadium, in Sheffield, before the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, Cameron said. The report conclusively found that the Liverpool fans who died in the disaster were not responsible for it, he told lawmakers.
News Corp.’s Sun newspaper published a story in 1989, based on a briefing by the police and Irvine Patnick, a Conservative lawmaker, blaming the Liverpool fans. Under the headline “The Truth,” it alleged fans were drunk and violent and picked the pockets of the dead. The paper is still boycotted in the city.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve is reviewing the report before making a decision about whether to apply to the High Court for the inquests into the deaths to be reopened, Cameron said.
“It is clear to me that the new evidence in today’s report raises vital questions which must be examined,” the premier said. “The attorney general has assured me that he will examine this new evidence immediately and reach a decision as fast as possible.”