Unseen Hillsborough documents to be released

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has agreed to release previously unseen documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, his office confirmed today.

Mr Johnson told the mothers of three of the 96 victims of his decision at a face-to-face meeting in London yesterday.

The release of the documents, in cooperation with South Yorkshire Police, will be co-ordinated by The Hillsborough Independent Panel, which is to be set up in the coming weeks.

The panel could start sifting through the paperwork as early as September.

The Home Office said the documents would be made available to the families before they are made public because they many contain sensitive and personal information about the last minutes of the victims' lives.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Hillsborough was a terrible tragedy and the Government is committed to full disclosure of information held centrally and by local agencies in order to help provide a permanent record of documentation relating to the tragedy.

"This will be done in close co-operation with South Yorkshire Police.

"The Home Secretary, together with Health Secretary Andy Burnham and justice minister Michael Wills, have had a useful and productive meeting with the Hillsborough Family Support Group to explore options that will enable them to have access to all relevant papers.

"The Government's intention is to appoint an independent panel, 'The Hillsborough Independent Panel', to oversee release of this information.

"Disclosure will take into account the wishes of the families to protect sensitive and personal information about the victims.

"With this in mind, the Government will seek to ensure that representatives of the Hillsborough families will have prior disclosure of documents on an agreed timescale before they are made more widely available.

"The Government will continue to work with the families to complete this work."

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