Who Leaked the Confidential Hillsborough Disaster Documents to the BBC?

BBC Radio 4’s programme World At One today reported it has received confidential documents from the Hillsborough Disaster. The leaked papers reveal that top ranks of Merseyside Police misinformed British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that drunken Liverpool supporters caused the Hillsborough Disaster. The Taylor Report ruled that the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.

If you get a chance, listen to the above radio broadcast, which goes into far more detail regarding what the leaked papers reveal. Other than Merseyside Police misinforming Thatcher, the biggest revelation was that there was dissatisfaction within the British government at Lord Justice Taylor’s refusal to adapt his inquiry to their timetable for pressing ahead with an identity card scheme for football fans. The sentiment is that the Thatcher government wanted to pressure Lord Justice Taylor into making a quicker ruling, to satisfy her political timetable.

However, you have to wonder who leaked the confidential Hillsborough Disaster documents to BBC Radio 4. The papers the BBC received represent only a small portion of the volume of data that has been collected by the Hillsborough Independent Panel. But who leaked the cabinet documents? What was their intention? And why did they choose to include the Thatcher papers?

We may never learn the answers, but I find it quite “convenient” that papers that cast a shadow over Merseyside Police were released. In the BBC Radio 4 interview, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign wasn’t surprised that top ranks of Merseyside Police had said that in the days after the disaster since they were informed by South Yorkshire Police. In the ’80s, the Merseyside Police chief constable and senior officers were known for their racist and bigoted views, added the spokesperson.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the Thatcher cabinet papers were the ones leaked, or perhaps not. But what I find particularly troubling is that the confidential documents are being leaked at all. It’s imperative that the families of those loved ones who suffered and died at the Hillsborough Disaster get to read the sensitive information first before it’s released to the public domain, so we can learn more about the truth of what happened at Hillsborough that fateful day in April, 1989.

The papers from the Hillsborough Independent Panel will be released later this year.

15 thoughts on “Who Leaked the Confidential Hillsborough Disaster Documents to the BBC?”

  1. This should spark some interesting debate. A devastating tragedy and it has always seemed to me that the police were made to “take one for the team” in order to spare any measure of guilt among the community and fanbase aggrieved. It’s a noble gesture, if not a cowardly one by politicians, that can certainly be absorbed by public institutions. However one wonders even after so many years if those that still demand “The Truth” are actually capable of handling it.

  2. At the very least it shows that even Liverpool’s own police believed the fans were capable of doing this, because, well, they had done it in the past. This police officer may well have been wrong, the drunken disorderly fans outside the gates of the stadium could have not been the major factor for the disaster… but to hear many Liverpool fans whitewash their fans behavior would have you think that it was impossible the Liverpool fan would do this. The Police in Athens would be quick to remind you that they still do it.

    1. Hillsborough was just a very sad and unfortunate sign of the times. At the time stadiums were falling apart and were in no fit state to host football matches and fans were treated like animals shoved into pens blocked off my metal bars. Liverpool were still a very dominant side in England at the time and they should never have been allocated the smaller end of the ground. As much as I hope we can call say that day never should have ended the way it did, the one thing we can be thankful for is that it changed the face of football forever – for the better.

    2. Leslie, what are you capable of? Are you the innocent among us or do you have a criminal, violent side? I reckon you are just a self-absorbed, unimportant nobody who feels self-important by denegrating others. Facts never are important to small-minded individuals such as yourself. If you were to suffer an event such as this then you can rest assured that history will not remember you and no-one will care for the truth.

    3. “Liverpool’s own police believed the fans were capable of doing this, because, well, they had done it in the past”

      Leslie, do you have any evidence that the behaviour of Liverpool fans, was worst that any other set of “fans” and firms in Britain in the 80’s?

  3. Who gets held accountable now after all these years? Does it really provide relief for any of these familes?

    Ok so someone gets blamed. Then what? Nothing out of this is going to change or help anyone or anything.

    RIP to those supporters lost that day.

    1. The families who lost sons, daughters, brothers, sisters… who all just went to enjoy a football match will be able to live in the knowledge that justice has been shown and once and for all it can all be laid to rest. Don’t speak such nonsense. I live in Liverpool. I’m a Liverpool supporter. I go to Anfield most match days. I walk past the memorial every single match day and take a moment there so I see first hand how it still affects people to this day and how clarity and justice needs to be served. It may not be much to somebody like you with that attitude but to those families involved it means the world and rightfully so.

  4. I’m sure the comments on this topic will be very measured and sensible. And I fully expect Liverpool fans to engage in an open debate that will lead to some meaningful examination of the event.

    In no way do I expect this discussion to descend into every Hillsborough discussion the internet’s ever had. Not at all.

    1. John, it almost sounds like you’re wishing for it to happen :)

      John, as a regular reader, you’ll know that EPL Talk readers are an intelligent bunch. We’re not like other blogs. Sometimes we get out of hand, but you’ll find that EPL Talk readers are very educated and civil when it comes to debates about English football.

      The Gaffer

      1. I hope you’re right on this one, Gaffer. I definitely don’t want it to happen, and I’m almost hoping my comment serves as a subtly warning (though I’m under no illusion that it will).

        I pity this thread what it gets linked to one of the more notorious Liverpool message boards, though! Best of luck.

  5. As a person who was there that day reading some of the comments are typical of those who was not there.I have watched football for many years and here is a question for you.Does anyone remember the F.A cup semi-final Leeds united — Coventry city when all the supporters came spilling on to the pitch.I suggest Leslie go and Google this game and tell me then that drunk’s were to blame.No being a football supporter in those days included being treated like a animal and caged like a animal

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