Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Cameron sets tone for Hillsborough apology

Commons Sketch for The Record (a rare thing these days)

A profound quiet settled on the Commons chamber as the Prime Minister announced the results of the Hillsborough Inquiry.

MPs who had been braying across the benches minutes earlier, sat just stunned as David Cameron conveyed details of the shocking aftermath of that sunny Saturday afternoon in Sheffield 23 years ago.

The silence was broken only by collective gasps, as it was revealed how police had sought to impinge the reputations of the 96 dead, running their details for criminal checks and even testing the bodies of children for alcohol.

Former Labour Minister Andy Burnham, who commissioned the independent report, sat on the benches behind Ed Miliband. He had difficulty maintaining his composure, constantly adjusting his cuffs to distract himself.

Maria Eagle and Steve Rotheram, the moptop MP for Liverpool Walton who was in the ground that day, looked equally shattered.

Yet they found their voices, cracking with emotion, in the hushed debate that followed.

The Prime Minister set the solemn tone, sounding just as staggered by conclusions he had read only a few hours earlier.

As he had done for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, he made a candid, heartfelt apology to Liverpool, and the bereaved who had been slighted.

But important as that was, sorry is no kind of justice for losing your children.

If it had been left to bent police, to doctored ambulance statements, to arbitrary coroner’s reports and vicious media myths the official silence would have held forever.

But the cry for truth from the bereaved of Liverpool would not be quietened.

Ordinary people knew what happened, smelt a police conspiracy, and campaigned against a wall of officialdom for years. Finally, yesterday they were taken seriously.

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