British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized yesterday to the families of the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough soccer stadium disaster for the “double injustice” they suffered.
Following the release of thousands of documents, he told parliament the Liverpool supporters had suffered not only from official failings that led to the deaths, but also from police attempts to blame the victims.
“On behalf of the government — and indeed our country — I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long,” a somber Cameron said in a statement to lawmakers.
He was speaking after the Hillsborough Independent Panel, a seven-member body led by the Bishop of Liverpool, published a report into Britain’s worst sporting disaster following a review of previously unseen files.
“With the weight of the new evidence in this report, it is right for me today as prime minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have suffered over the past 23 years,” Cameron said.
“Indeed, the new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice. The injustice of the appalling events — the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth. And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased — that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths,” Cameron added.
The panel found that police “significantly amended” 164 statements, including the removal of 116 negative comments about the leadership of the police, to push the blame for the tragedy onto the fans, Cameron said.
The tragedy was caused by massive overcrowding in the Leppings Lane End of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
To ease overcrowding outside the Leppings Lane End, police opened an exit gate, allowing supporters to flood into the central pens.
Fenced in, fans were crushed to death.
The city of Liverpool was to hold a two-minute silence yesterday from 3:06pm — the time the match was called off — as a mark of respect to the victims, ahead of a candle-lit vigil.