MP warns Hillsborough papers should not affect inquiry

Publishing cabinet documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster must not distract from the independent inquiry, an MP has warned.

Steve Rotherham MP welcomed the Information Commissioner's ruling that it was in the public interest to release the cabinet records.

But the Liverpool Walton MP also warned that the inquiry could be undermined.

The Hillsborough Families Support Group said it had been asking to see the papers for the past 22 years.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was briefed about the tragedy and held several meetings about the disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

The judgement from Information Commissioner Christopher Graham relates to a Freedom of Information request from the BBC which was refused by the Cabinet Office in 2009.

The government has either 28 days to appeal or 35 days in which to release the documents.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, which was set up in 2009 by the Labour Government, is currently sifting through thousands of documents relating to the tragedy.

Mr Rotherham said: "It is important not to create a parallel process."

He said the documents would be interesting reading but added that "the emphasis should be on the panel concluding its findings".

Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son in the tragedy and is chair of the families support group, said: "We feel that this is part of a jigsaw - part of the bigger picture."

She said the group had pressed the Hillsborough Independent Panel to try to get access to the cabinet minutes.

"We have been asking for these papers for 22 years," she said.

Ninety-five Liverpool supporters were killed in a crush of fans at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, where the club was playing an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

The 96th victim was left in a coma for three years and died in 1992.

An inquiry into the disaster held that the main reason for the overcrowding was the failure of police control.

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