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Tragedy and aftermath

The deaths of 96 men, women and children, and the physical and emotional harm and suffering endured by many others, occurred because of severe crushing in overcrowded pens on the Leppings Lane terrace inside Hillsborough Stadium.

Immediate speculation occurred in the media concerning the context and circumstances of the disaster.

There followed:

  • a Home Office inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Taylor
  • a criminal investigation
  • inquests
  • civil actions
  • a judicial review of the inquests
  • a judicial scrutiny of ‘new evidence’ by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith
  • a private prosecution of two senior police officers
  • a submission to the European Court of Human Rights

On 15 April 2009, at the 20th Anniversary memorial service and following continued approaches by the Hillsborough Family Support Group and the Liverpool City Council, then Culture Minister Andy Burnham announced the government’s commitment to allowing access to all documents relating to the disaster and its aftermath.

Appointment and work of the Panel

Following discussions between the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Liverpool MPs and the government, the Home Secretary appointed the Hillsborough Independent Panel to oversee the release of documents under the guiding principle of 'maximum public disclosure'. The panel is also to make recommendations for the establishment of a permanent archive and to write a comprehensive report on how the information disclosed adds to the public understanding of the disaster and its aftermath.

The panel was appointed in January 2010 and began its work in February 2010. It was established by the then Labour Government and has since been fully endorsed by the Coalition Government.

The panel invited the Hillsborough Family Support Group’s committee to its first meeting. It also met with representatives of two other groups: the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough. Following on from these meetings the panel contacted the bereaved families to provide details of its work and to request key questions that families wanted the Hillsborough Independent Panel to address. These questions are central to the panel’s priorities and will contribute significantly to the final report.