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Hillsborough files to be opened

2011-10-18 12:16
British parliament have decided to release the documents from the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 (AFP)

London - British lawmakers on Monday demanded the release of all documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died, after widespread support for an online petition.

After a highly-charged debate in the lower House of Commons, lawmakers approved without a vote a motion tabled by backbench lawmakers demanding the release of all official files.

Home Secretary Theresa May told the chamber: "I will do everything in my power to ensure the families and the public get the truth."

The online petition attracted more than 100 000 signatures, which under a government initiative is enough for a parliamentary debate on the issue to be considered.

In August, Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office agreed to full disclosure of all papers relating to the 1989 tragedy, which was a result of crushing caused by massive overcrowding at an FA Cup semi-final between the Liverpool football club and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium.

In a letter sent on September 16 to Andy Burnham, a Labour lawmaker who first called for the documents to be released in 2009, Cameron said he was "committed to full disclosure of any information that the government holds on Hillsborough".

A spokesman for Cameron confirmed Monday that all the relevant documents had been handed over to the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The seven-member panel, chaired by Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, is responsible for going through the wealth of unseen files relating to the tragedy.

The files are said to include reports presented to then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, minutes of meetings she attended and correspondence between her office and the interior minister at the time, Douglas Hurd.

Cameron's spokesman said the panel will decide whether to release the information to the families of the victims or to publish it more widely.

This was the second petition to be debated by MPs under the e-petition scheme introduced by the coalition government.

Politicians previously discussed the London riots and will soon debate Britain's membership of the European Union.

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