Government to probe Hillsborough leak

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A government inquiry has been launched after documents were leaked to the BBC stating a senior Merseyside Police officer blamed “drunken Liverpool fans” for the Hillsborough tragedy.

Home Secretary Theresa May condemned the leak, and has vowed to uncover who is responsible for passing the information to the BBC.

It was revealed last week the Chief Constable for Merseyside in 1989, Kenneth Oxford, along with another colleague, blamed “drunk” and “ticketless” fans for the disaster in a briefing with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; claims which were later proven to be inaccurate by the Lord Justice Taylor Report.

Another officer linked the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 fans lost their lives, with the Heysel tragedy, adding he was “deeply ashamed” of the Reds’ supporters.

Campaigners for the Hillsborough families have demanded an apology, slamming the claims as “appalling and disgraceful”.

MP May said: “I share the concerns which have been expressed 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.

“Information in any document I believe should be shown to the families first and should not be leaked to the press in any form.”

The leak inquiry must first establish exactly who had access to the documents which were released to the Hillsborough Independent Panel by the Cabinet Office.

A report will then be handed to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister who will decide if a full investigation is required.

Documents relating to Cabinet and other discussions, including those with Margaret Thatcher,  following the disaster were made available following a Freedom of Information application launched by the BBC.

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram raised a point of order in the House of Commons following the BBC story about Kenneth Oxford’s comments. Rotheram 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.

“There were also suggestions there may well be further leaks on a drip-drip basis which will undermine the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.”

About Liam Deveney, JMU Journalism