Hillsborough: Government inquiry into papers leak

Theresa May
Image caption Theresa May told MPs in the House of Commons that the leak inquiry is under way

An inquiry is under way into a leak which led to the early publication of documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster, the Home Secretary has said.

Theresa May told MPs the Cabinet Office was investigating how the documents made their way to the BBC.

A media report last week revealed a briefing received by Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister at the time, days after the disaster in 1989.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died after being crushed at the Sheffield stadium.

The leaked documents showed that an unnamed Merseyside officer wrongly suggested drunken fans were to blame in the briefing to Mrs Thatcher.

Hillsborough Families Support Group's Margaret Aspinall said the claim was "a disgrace".

Documents review

Ninety-five lost their lives at Hillsborough, after the crush on overcrowded terraces during the FA Cup Semi Final in April 1989. The 96th victim Tony Bland died in 1992 after the Law Lords allowed his artificial feeding to be stopped.

The official inquiry said the disaster was caused by the failure in crowd control by South Yorkshire Police.

Delivering his report into the disaster in 1990, Lord Justice Taylor said the "great majority were not drunk or even the worse for drink," and said that "some officers, seeking to rationalise their loss of control, overestimated the drunkenness in the crowd".

Thousands of documents relating to the disaster are being reviewed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, in advance of their publication to families.

Mrs May referred to the inquiry when responding to a point of order made in the House of Commons by Labour MP Steve Rotherham.

He said: "There are many who believe this leak could only have come from either a senior politician, a senior civil servant or by the BBC themselves having access to this sensitive documentation."

Mrs May said: "There is a leak inquiry that has been initiated by the Cabinet Office.

"I share the concerns which have been expressed in raising the point of order in relation to the impact leaks of this sort have on what is a very sensitive matter in relation to ensuring the full information is put together by the Hillsborough Panel.

"And information in any document, I believe, should be shown to the families first and should not be leaked to the press in any form."

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