Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Hillsborough panel meets for first time in Liverpool

People being lifted over the stands at Hillsborough
The families have been consulted on the panel members

A group set up to study secret documents relating to the Hillsborough tragedy is meeting for the first time.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel is being headed by the Bishop of Liverpool the Right Rev James Jones.

It will oversee public disclosure of the documents after first letting the victims' families know their content.

Ninety-six fans were crushed to death at the Sheffield stadium on 15 April 1989 during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final tie with Nottingham Forest.

Hillsborough files panel
Christine Gifford - Public information expert
Katy Jones - TV producer and researcher
Paul Leighton - Former Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
Dr Bill Kirkup - Former Associate Medical Director at the Department of Health
Sarah Tyacke - Archivist
Professor Phil Scraton - Academic criminologist
Peter Sissons - Broadcaster

The seven other panel members include Paul Leighton, former deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and broadcaster Peter Sissons.

The panel will spend two years reading thousands of documents detailing the events which led to the disaster.

They have been held by South Yorkshire Police for the past 20 years.

The documents contain evidence from the ambulance service, the police, the fire service, coroner and Sheffield City Council.

The documents in their entirety have not been read by anyone outside the police force before.

The government promised in July last year to release documents relating to the events of the day.

'Want closure'

The Hillsborough families have been consulted throughout the process of establishing the panel, which is meeting in Liverpool.

The panel is expected to spend much of the day discussing how they will go about their task.

They will also meet representatives of Hillsborough victims' families and see a presentation by Peter Evans, archives and local studies manager at Sheffield City Council.

Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the disaster, which reported in 1990, criticised senior police officers on duty at the match for a failure of crowd control and recommended the introduction of all-seater stadiums.

The families have continued to call for further inquiries into the deaths.

Speaking as she prepared to meet the panel, Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: "We want closure and we hope we will get the truth this time.

"It will give us some peace."

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