Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 14:17 UK

Hillsborough files may be opened

Leppings Lane end at 1507 BST
Ninety six Liverpool fans were killed at the FA Cup semi-final

Secret files on the Hillsborough disaster could be made public 10 years early after a request from the home secretary.

Jacqui Smith has asked South Yorkshire Police to release the documents, which contain detailed evidence of what happened during the tragedy in 1989.

It could help families of the 96 victims who want a new inquiry.

Ms Smith plans to meet South Yorkshire Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes to discuss the records.

'Full picture'

Trevor Hicks, of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: "I am pleased, it's better late than never.

"This will enable us to see the full picture of events in a way that we have been denied for 20 years.

"It is vital that these files are released in full and not sanitised in anyway."

He also requested that the families are given time to view the documents before they are made public.

"Some of the documents are bound to contain information about the manner in which our loved ones died, their medical conditions and so on.

"I think it's best if we learn of that ourselves and not through other parties."

Culture secretary Andy Burnham was heckled as campaigners shouted "Justice for the 96" at the Hillsborough memorial service on Wednesday.

Following the service, he called for "full disclosure" of all evidence on the Hillsborough disaster.

Kevin Robinson: 'We just want the facts about what happened'

Kevin Robinson, chairman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign added: "The memorial service on Wednesday, I think had an affect on Andy Burham, the culture secretary.

"He saw how the pain was still there and he heard the chants for justice, it is high time the government realised that something should be done."

Inquest ruling

The files contain evidence from the police, local council and the ambulance service. Documents like this are usually not made public for 30 years, but the home secretary has intervened two decades after the disaster.

Evidence was examined during the original inquest, in which the coroner ruled all victims had sustained their fatal injuries by 3.15pm, based on advice from pathologists.

As a result, he did not hear any evidence of what happened after that point - but many bereaved families believe their loved ones could have still been alive and they want a fresh inquiry.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts was the leader of Sheffield City Council at the time of the disaster.

He welcomed the early release of the papers but said he believed the council documents would reveal little that was new.

He said: "I think the council . . .was upfront at the time in terms of officers explaining precisely what they had done in terms of inspecting and licensing of the ground before the disaster."



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