Hillsborough justice 'very near'

Hillsborough campaigners believe they are now edging towards discovering the truth of what happened in the tragedy more than 22 years ago after a momentous occasion in the House of Commons.

On Monday night, a motion calling for all documents – including Cabinet notes and briefings – to be handed to the independent panel set up to review the papers for public release was passed unopposed in the House of Commons.

Many emotional speeches, not least by Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram and Leigh MP and former Sports Minister Andy Burnham, set the tone for the debate.

And with Home Secretary Theresa May insisting the Government is committed to disclosing the full facts surrounding the 1989 tragedy which claimed 96 lives, it now appears those who have been campaigning for justice for more than two decades will get their wish.

"We are all very pleased with the outcome. I thought the MPs did a great job," Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said. "Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham were fantastic. To mention the names of the 96 in the House of Commons makes sure it goes down in Hansard [the official record] and was amazingly emotional.

"We have always had caution but after last night I am hoping it will help the families in some way. I feel so much better about it. We are getting nearer and nearer now – hopefully our day will come. To hear Theresa May's speech was really pleasing, not just for us but for the whole of the city, the fans and the survivors. I think it sends out a message that a cover-up like that will never happen again."

The debate was sparked after an online petition was signed by almost 140,000 people and the campaign gathered pace through social media with a number of high-profile footballers throwing their weight behind the cause.

Huyton-born QPR midfielder Joey Barton wrote on Twitter: "Football fans united behind a just cause, the game, the nation should be very proud of football fans." Everton's Tim Cahill posted: "Blue or Red the city of Liverpool unite when it counts always."

Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son James at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, added: "It has taken 22 years to get this far and it was said in the House of Commons that it was down to the power of the people.

"It is never too late to get to the truth. There will be no end for the families because we have lost our children and loved ones and we lost them needlessly. Now the families may feel that, at last, everybody is listening."

For Kenny Dalglish, who was in charge of the side at Hillsborough in his first spell as Liverpool manager, the disaster took a huge personal toll and contributed to his shock resignation in 1991.

Now back at the Anfield helm for a second time, he was full of praise for those who had maintained the fight for justice. "Congratulations and thanks to Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham for bringing so much hope to many people who have suffered too long," the Scot wrote on Twitter.

"Steve and Andy have only one objective. Justice for the families. No political side. Only humanitarian issues.

"Thank you to everyone, whatever team you support, for helping the families move closer to getting justice."

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