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.