Britain's Cameron apologizes for Hillsborough ‘injustice’
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
In this file photo from Apr 7, 2012, Liverpool players and fans pay tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster on the 23rd anniversary of the darkest day in the club’s history.British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized yesterday to the families of the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster for the “double injustice” they suffered.
Speaking after the release of thousands of documents, he told parliament the Liverpool supporters had suffered first from official failings that led to the deaths and then from police attempts to blame the victims of the crush.
“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,” a sombre Cameron said in a statement to lawmakers.
He was speaking after the Hillsborough Independent Panel, a seven-member body led by the Bishop of Liverpool, published a report into Britain’s worst sporting disaster following a review of previously unseen files.
The disaster was caused by massive overcrowding in the Leppings Lane End of Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
To ease overcrowding outside the Leppings Lane End, police opened an exit gate, allowing supporters to flood into the central pens. Fenced in, fans were crushed to death.
Lawmakers gasped as Cameron said the panel found that police repeatedly tried to cover-up evidence of their own failings following the disaster in a bid to make it look as if fans were at fault, Cameron said.
Police “significantly amended” 164 statements, including the removal of 116 negative comments about the leadership of the police, he said.
He said there were also failings by the ambulance service, including that it may have been possible to revive some of the victims had they received treatment earlier.
“With the weight of the new evidence in this report, it is right for me today as prime minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have suffered over the past 23 years,” Cameron said.
“Indeed, the new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice.
“The injustice of the appalling events - the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth. And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased - that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths.”
Cameron said the victims’ families had long believed that some of the authorities attempted to create a “completely unjust account of events that sought to blame the fans for what happened.
“The families were right.”