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Panel statement March 2012

22 March 2012


Following the BBC’s recent reporting of leaked documents, the Hillsborough Independent Panel reaffirms its approach as follows.

The Panel remains committed to completing its work of securing maximum possible disclosure of all documents relating to the disaster and its aftermath, first to the Hillsborough families and then to the wider public. At the same time, the Panel will publish its Report explaining how the published documents add to public understanding, in line with its Terms of Reference.

The Panel believes that recent events and the understandable distress caused by the prior publication of snippets of information demonstrate why it is right to proceed with publication to the families first, rather than through the media and also why it is right that the documents should be published together and not piecemeal. Only by publishing the documents together, alongside the Panel’s Report, can they be understood in context.

The Panel consults the Hillsborough families about the progress of its work, but does not disclose documents at this stage. The sole exception was the Panel’s discovery that, in ten cases, small tissue samples had been retained at the time post mortems were carried out. While this occurred in accordance with medical practice at the time, the Panel concluded that it would be wrong ethically to withhold this information from the bereaved families involved until completion of the Panel’s work. That exception has no bearing on the release of any other information.

Because the Panel is still receiving new and important documents, it has taken the difficult decision to complete its work in the Autumn, rather than the earlier date anticipated. In doing so, the Panel will continue to act independently, as it has done consistently. The Panel will also continue to respect the wishes of the Hillsborough families in how they are consulted and strive to meet with them according to the agreements established at the outset of its work. This now includes many families who are not affiliated to any of the three established groups.

The Panel reiterates its determination to deliver maximum disclosure and its Report, applying the above approach, and not to be side-tracked by leaked information or unfounded allegations.