It is difficult to imagine the emotions that the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster must be feeling today, at the news that all government papers – including uncensored cabinet meeting minutes – are to be made available to the independent panel chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool.
The dignity with which the families have fought the official version of events, while coping with the sudden and shocking loss of their relatives, is an inspiration. It is perhaps testament to their bravery that many of the MPs who spoke in Monday’s debate on the release of the papers were fighting back tears. Although with emotions running so high, it was also fitting that Labour MP for Walton in Liverpool, Steve Rotherham opened his address by saying:
I have been careful not to base my account of events on emotion. I have ensured that I have clear and referenced evidence to support all my contentions.
He went on to talk about what the release of the papers will mean to those who have been campaigning for justice:
Misdirection, obfuscation and damned lies were all used as smokescreens to deflect attention away from the guilty. Institutional complacency and gross negligence, coupled with an establishment cover-up, have added to the sense that there was an orchestrated campaign to shift blame from those who were really responsible on to the shoulders of Liverpool fans. Many myths have been perpetrated about the events of 15 April 1989.
It is incredible that the families of the 96 have had to wait 22 years for these smokescreens to lift, and with an estimated 300,000 documents to be released there is still a long road to travel, but I hope that with this announcement we move another step closer to finding out the real truth of what happened that day.