• Premier League

David Cameron apologises for Hillsborough 'injustice'

ESPN staff
September 12, 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron revealed on Wednesday that findings from the independent review into the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989 - which led to the loss of 96 lives - show the safety of the crowd was compromised on "every level".

Cameron, 23 years on from the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, acknowledged categorically that Liverpool fans were not to blame for the disaster that took place at the Leppings Lane end, and he offered his "profound apology" to the families and people close to those who lost their lives.

Speaking after Prime Minister's Questions, Cameron said many of the review's findings "are deeply distressing", labelling the disaster "one of the greatest peace time tragedies of the last century".

He highlighted three areas in particular: The failure of the authorities to help protect people, the attempt to blame the fans, and the doubt cast on the original coroner's inquest.

Elaborating on the findings of the review, Cameron said: "The safety of the crowd was compromised at every level. The ground failed to meet safety standards, the deficiencies were well known, the turnstiles were inadequate, the capacity had been significantly over-calculated, the crush barriers failed to meet safety standards, and there had been a crush at the same ground a year before."

Cameron also addressed the shortcomings of the emergency response, continuing: "The major incident plan was not fully implemented, rescue attempts were held back by failures of leadership and coordination, and new documents show there was a delay from the emergency services when people were being crushed, and killed."

Moving on to the second area, the attempt to blame the fans, Cameron explained that evidence from the review showed police "tried to develop and publicise a version of events that focused on drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence", adding they tried to change the evidence and blame the fans. A total of 164 police statements were altered.

Cameron also revealed: "There is new evidence that police officers carried out police national computer checks on those who had died, in an attempt to impune on the reputations of the deceased. The coroner took blood alcohol levels from all of the deceased, including children, and the panel finds no rationale for what it regards as an exceptional decision."

However, he stressed there was no evidence that the government of the time, led by Margaret Thatcher, had attempted to conceal the truth.

The Prime Minister then addressed the people of Liverpool, saying: "On behalf of the country I am profoundly sorry for the double injustice suffered by the families of the victims.

"The Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster."

The Hillsborough Independent Panel had assessed more than 400,000 pages of documents over the last year and a half, with the report of its findings available for the families to view at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.

Documentation examined by the panel, chaired by the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, came from more than 80 different organisations. The documents, released to the public on Wednesday afternoon, were available to the relatives from 8am.

MPs were told that some of those who died on the terraces at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground had reversible asphyxia and could have been saved, but the report revealed shortcomings in the response of the emergency services.

Cameron said the original inquest into the deaths - which said all the victims had suffered fatal injuries by 3.15pm, 15 minutes after the match had kicked off - was inadequate. The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, must now decide whether to apply to the High Court to overturn the verdict of that inquest.

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