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David Cameron’s moving Hillsborough statement

12 September 2012

3:21 PM

12 September 2012

3:21 PM

In many ways, today showed this current Parliament and the Prime Minister at their best. David Cameron hadn’t brought Flashman with him to Prime Minister’s Questions today in any case, but for his statement on the Hillsborough tragedy, he adopted a solemn and respectful tone. The whole chamber was still, save for sharp intakes of breath from MPs as horrifying findings from today’s report from the Hillsborough independent panel were read to them. The worst was that many more – possibly 41 –  lives could have been saved had the response to the disaster been adequate.

‘Anyone who has lost a child knows the pain never leaves you. But to read a report years afterwards that says – and I quote – “a swifter, more appropriate, better focused and properly equipped response had the potential to save more lives”, can only add to the pain.’

MPs, particularly those who have campaigned on this matter, dabbed at their eyes. They shook their heads in disgust at the revelation that 164 police statements had been significantly amended and 116 had had negative comments about the policing operation removed. Later, some struggled to control the emotion in their voices as they spoke and asked the Prime Minister questions. No-one brought party politics into the chamber during the debate. Nobody even raised their voice. The Prime Minister said:

‘On behalf of the government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.’

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Cameron spent close to an hour reading the report this morning before his statement. He told MPs this afternoon that he would read it in detail afterwards, too. He said its findings were ‘black and white’: the Liverpool fans “were not the cause of the disaster”‘.

There are still many more steps towards justice for the Hillsborough victims: including whether there will be any consequences for the former Tory MP Sir Irvine Patnick, identified in today’s report as the source who, along with the South Yorkshire Police Federation, fed stories smearing the fans to the press. Attorney General Dominic Grieve will review the report now to decide whether to apply for the High Court to quash the original inquest into the disaster and order a new one.

Cameron showed us before with his Bloody Sunday statement that he does these occasions well, far better than his performances at PMQs. His colleagues across the chamber did this occasion well, too, praising the strength of the families of those who died, and pressing the Prime Minister for more information on what the next steps will be. The MPs who parliament should be the proudest of today, though, are those who plugged away to ensure that those 96 football fans are given justice: Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram, Maria Eagle, and their colleagues.


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Show comments
  • TomTom

    So what do you do when you have a current Chief Constable who was a Chief Inspector in South Yorkshire Police and who worked on a team for the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire preparing “evidence” about the Hillsborough Disaster and who narrated edited footage of CCTV cameras to present the South Yorkshire Police Official Version ? Do you hope for an elected Police Commisioner in November or trust that the Lodge will remand him for trial ?

    Maybe they will simply brush it under the carpet as they do with the 1400 persons who have died in police custody in the past decade…..

    • TomTom

      He even has his photo on the front page of today’s Daily Mail…..time for us to choose our own Police Authority instead of the stooges the politicians select to run this quango that does little for the citizens. …….”
      In one passage, Sir Norman wrote: “Peter Metcalf is re-reading the
      inquiry transcripts in relation to evidence provided by police officers.
      Peter Metcalf anticipates a short list of officers who are to be asked
      to ‘clarify’ a part of their evidence.”
      Yet eight years later,
      when Sir Norman was appointed Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, a
      second document shows he told police authority bosses that he “did not
      produce, agree, or set the strategy for lawyers” in the aftermath of the
      disaster.
      In one passage, Sir Norman wrote: “Peter Metcalf is re-reading the
      inquiry transcripts in relation to evidence provided by police officers.
      Peter Metcalf anticipates a short list of officers who are to be asked
      to ‘clarify’ a part of their evidence.”
      Yet eight years later,
      when Sir Norman was appointed Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, a
      second document shows he told police authority bosses that he “did not
      produce, agree, or set the strategy for lawyers” in the aftermath of the
      disaster.

  • Radford_NG

    13 Sept. c1.30am.BST…..Who killed 33 Italians and 6 others (including an 11 yr. old child) at the Heysel Stadium in 1985 ; an action which got all English teams banned from Europe for 5 years? They don’t talk about that.

    • telemachus

      No Radford
      There was no police wrongdoing there
      And no Coroner misjudgement.
      And no heaping blame on the relatives

      • TomTom

        It was also Belgium which does not have Coroners nor a particularly rosy legal system nor an unblemished police force….Inquests are an Old English procedure of Land Courts designed to handle inheritance and are far older than the Belgian State by at least 900 years

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Of course, the immediate cause was Liverpool fans charging through flimsy ‘chicken wire’ style fences and causing the Italians nearby to run and cause a crush and a wall to collapse at the opposite side to the trouble.
      However hooligans on both sides were fighting, throwing stuff, and trading insults on either side of that fence and the innocent suffered as a result.
      The match should never have taken place at the Heysel – it was a semi-derelict dump which was not fit for a European final. Opposing fans should not have been on tha terrace – just like the Liverpool fans should not have been in the Leppings but the ‘home’ end.

  • Daniel Maris

    Surely Maggie Thatcher has a lot to answer for in pushing through the insane policy of coralling fans behind impenetrable wire fences? That policy was abandoned within weeks of the disaster if I recall correctly.

    • StanleyM

      Read the report. It’s not as simple as the media portray. It’s also a long way from ‘independent’ if there is such a thing. Long, but worth a read if you want to know more.

  • Daniel Maris

    Call me cynical but might not Cameron have been tempted to shine the brightest of lights on this knowing that it will remind people of Boris’s least-finest hour…the time when he called into question his judgement and his ability to be the leader of the whole country? I refer to his remarks about Liverpool wallowing in victimhood. If Kelvin McKenzie has apologised – surely Boris is due the issuing of a renewed apology…

  • mike
  • Hexhamgeezer

    The fact that it took 96 deaths to spur the FA, football clubs, licensing authorities and the police into action regarding football grounds is a disgrace – more than that, it was criminal.

    The most culpable were South Yorkshire Police. As a Newcastle fan who experienced their policing in the Leppings Lane End and surrounds I witnessed a policy of calculated contempt towards fans. They often deliberately forced fans into that lethal centre paddock even though there was plenty of space in the adjacent paddocks and despite knowing how many fans were yet to take their places. Of course we didn’t realise at the time how close we had been to disaster and I believe that in one game in particular it was only the fact that we forced a gate in that centre paddock that prevented serious injuries – despite the best efforts to stop us by the SYP.

    Sheffield Wednesday are also culpable. Signing and crowd management in the yard behind the Leppings Lane end was virtually non-existent making that lethal centre paddock the default entry for 1st timers.

  • Anthony JFT96 McMahon

    Why does Cameron think we are interested in his apologies? It took an e-petition to force the government to discuss it in parliament. They were more than content with continuing with denying the us the truth. If he wants to do anything, lets start with justice. The truth isn’t enough.

  • Anthony JFT96 McMahon

    Why does Cameron think we are interested in his apologies? It took an e-petition to force the government to discuss it in parliament. They were more than content with continuing with denying the us the truth. If he wants to do anything, lets start with justice. The truth isn’t enough.

  • 2trueblue

    Very sobering account of an event that was so appallingly handled. Thank heavens the much parodied phrase ‘lessons to be learned’ was not uttered. It was an awful tragedy and the families deserved the result.

  • William of London

    The victims and relatives have, indeed, been compensated as far as the law currently permits. South Yorkshire Police admitted negligence early on and there was much litigation about the categories of people entitled to claim for what lawyers call ‘nervous shock’: see Alcock [1992] 1 A.C. 310, Frost [1997] 3 WLR 1194 and White [1999] 2 AC 455 (all v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, all three cases reaching the House of Lords). One hopes that the tragedy can now be laid to rest, at least as far as compensation lawyers are concered.

  • William of London

    The victims and relatives have, indeed, been compensated as far as the law currently permits. South Yorkshire Police admitted negligence early on and there was much litigation about the categories of people entitled to claim for what lawyers call ‘nervous shock’: see Alcock [1992] 1 A.C. 310, Frost [1997] 3 WLR 1194 and White [1999] 2 AC 455 (all v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, all three cases reaching the House of Lords). One hopes that the tragedy can now be laid to rest, at least as far as compensation lawyers are concered.

  • William of London

    The victims and relatives have, indeed, been compensated as far as the law currently permits. South Yorkshire Police admitted negligence early on and there was much litigation about the categories of people entitled to claim for what lawyers call ‘nervous shock’: see Alcock [1992] 1 A.C. 310, Frost [1997] 3 WLR 1194 and White [1999] 2 AC 455 (all v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, all three cases reaching the House of Lords). One hopes that the tragedy can now be laid to rest, at least as far as compensation lawyers are concered.

    • TomTom

      Surely these Police Officers cannot expect taxpayers to provide compensation for their perjury and perversion of the course of justice ? Surely they should be tried and jailed and their pensions cancelled. Criminals in Blue

      • StanleyM

        Unlikely as the statements were made for the purposes of an inquiry rather than a court case. Not only that but the Taylor inquiry was clearly told of the alterations at the time which had been made following advice from SYP’s legal department on the basis that the SYP were effectively ‘the accused’. It wasn’t hidden to the inquiry and comment as to it’s efficacy was made at the time. Given that that was public at the time it seems strange how it has taken so long to become a scandal. As for prosecutions, we’ll have to wait and see, I hope there is if it’s deserved, but I’m not sure we’ve had the whole truth yet.

    • TomTom

      BTW William, those cases were for “SECONDARY” Victims not those who died whose reputations hads been trashed by the Crooks in Blue – you clearly have a SYP attitude to the dead

  • albertcooper

    I wonder if the relatives get well deserved compensation

    • TomTom

      Resurrection is not possible – maybe they should apply Lex Talionis to South Yorkshire Police ?

  • Josh

    Nothing will be good enough for the Scousers. They are professional victims. Give them good cause and they will descend into a spiral of self pity almost mechanically. The weird thing is, they all whine and cry about Hillsborough, but what about Heysel?

    • http://twitter.com/sambidge dave sambidge

      Unbelievable comment josh you S!!!

  • Robert Castlereagh

    We should all be humbled.
    I saw personally how many lives were ruined by this.
    It was not just the dead and bereaved but the people brain damaged by lack of oxygen who suffer to this day.
    Many also who were in Sheffield and went on to the pitch to help were traumatised beyond measure.
    I personally know a fine upstanding man who worked at a local hospital and tried to bring the unrousable round and has never been able to work again.
    There is no-one in the North West who was not touched in some way by this tragedy and many many thousands are still living with some aspect of it, coming hard on the heels of the Piper Alpha disaster of the previous year.
    Merseysiders will never forgive the Sun and now with this report nor should the rest of the Country
    May those who perished now rest in peace in the knowledge that they were truly blameless. This knowledge is more help to the families than anything that has gone before.

    • telemachus

      Robert you are a true soldier.
      I salute you.

  • TitillateFantods45
  • TitillateFantods45
  • Sweetpea

    The best thing Cameron has ever done.

  • Sweetpea

    The best thing Cameron has ever done.

    • David Lindsay

      Can this really have happened: a Prime Minister who identifies as the heir both of Thatcher and of Blair has hung The Sun, of which Murdoch is not only proprietor but also Editor-in-Chief, out to dry? Yes. Yes, it has. This is what France must have felt like on the eve of the Liberation.

  • David Lindsay

    “no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon. The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident”.

    Boris Johnson, The Spectator, 16th October 2004

    • telemachus

      No time for political points scoring.
      Today as said above both sides of the house acquitted themselves well

      • Wessex Man

        I agree with telemachus, I feel sick to my stomach.

    • telemachus

      No time for political points scoring.
      Today as said above both sides of the house acquitted themselves well

  • Mr Chow

    “drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground” Boris Johnson Editor of The Spectator on Hillsborough

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