UK Government

Home Office: Experts appointed to Hillsborough Papers Panel

Press Release   •   Jan 26, 2010 11:46 GMT

An expert team has been appointed to the Hillsborough Independent Panel, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced today.

The seven panellists include specialists in research, medicine, archives, policing and the media. They will assist The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who will chair the body.

Bishop James will be joined by public information expert Christine Gifford; TV producer and researcher Katy Jones; Paul Leighton, former Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland; academic criminologist Professor Phil Scraton; Dr Bill Kirkup, former Associate Medical Director at the Department of Health; broadcaster Peter Sissons and archivist Sarah Tyacke.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel will oversee the publication of papers surrounding the 1989 tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool football supporters lost their lives. It will meet for the first time in Liverpool on 4 February.

Mr Johnson said:

"The new panellists are all experts in their field and will bring a range of vital skills to the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

"I am delighted they have accepted the responsibility of assisting Bishop James in releasing papers surrounding the terrible tragedy."

The Hillsborough Independent Panel and its terms of reference were established last month.

Bishop James said:

"Great thought has been given to the set of skills needed to do this important work. I am so pleased that my colleagues have agreed to join the Panel and dedicate themselves to this major task. Together they provide excellent skills for the serious work of overseeing the disclosure of the documents."

The Hillsborough families have been consulted throughout the process of establishing the panel and in the appointments announced today.

Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall said:

"The HFSG is extremely pleased that the panel announced today is now nearly complete and that the archive and review work can soon begin in earnest. 

"We welcome the Panel which has the confidence of all interested parties and is felt capable of executing this very important task. We look forward to working with them over the coming months and hope that the outcome is satisfactory."

Notes to editors

1. The Panel's full terms of reference can be found at

2. Government documents will be among those released, alongside papers from public bodies including South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire's fire and rescue and ambulance services.

3. For more details, contact the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3535.

4. The Bishop's press spokesman Stuart Haynes can be contacted on 0151 705 2150 or at

5. Panel Members

Christine Gifford

Christine Gifford is a recognised expert in the field of access to information, and is a member of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives which advises the Government on the disclosure of highly sensitive material.

She spent more than 20 years working with the Metropolitan Police. In 1997 she joined the Working Party on Openness in Government and later became an adviser to the Lord Chancellor on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

She said: "This is clearly going to be a challenging and important process which I feel privileged to have been asked to take part in"

Katy Jones

Katy Jones is the Bafta award-winning factual producer of  a series of landmark factual dramas by some of Britain's top writers including Jimmy McGovern's 'Hillsborough', the Prix Italia winning 'Sunday'; Slumdog Millionaire writer Simon Beaufoy's highly acclaimed feature film 'Yasmin' and Tony Marchant's 2008 Bafta winner 'The Mark of Cain'.

Ms Jones also spent five years as an investigative journalist/ producer on the current affairs series World in Action.

She said: "It is hugely important that the Hillsborough families will at last have access to all of the information surrounding this tragedy. Opening up the archive will, I hope, help to heal the pain of not knowing.

"I am deeply honoured that the families were keen for me to be part of the panel overseeing the release of the Hillsborough documents."

Dr Bill Kirkup, CBE

Dr Bill Kirkup was appointed a consultant in 1986 and held posts in public health and at Newcastle University before moving into NHS management with the former Northern Regional Health Authority.

In 1999, he was appointed Regional Director of Public Health and in 2005 became Associate Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health.  He has also worked on public health and reconstruction in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, and was made a CBE in 2008.

Dr Kirkup said: "It is a privilege to be asked to serve on this Panel. I hope that the information we provide can help those bereaved in the tragedy."

Paul Leighton, QPM CBE

Paul Leighton retired as Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in May 2009.

He has worked in policing in Northern Ireland and the North East of England in and dealt with the aftermath of the Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994 when 25 police and service personnel lost their lives. From late 1994 to early 1996 he was seconded to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), where he assisted in the inspection of a number of English police forces. He is a law graduate and was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 2005 and the CBE in the New Year's Honours List 2010.

He said: "I feel privileged to have been appointed and hope that the Panel can be of as much help as possible to those who have suffered for so long as a result of the tragic events at Hillsborough."

Professor Phil Scraton

Phil Scraton is Professor of Criminology in the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of Law, Queen's University, Belfast, where he is Director of the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative.  He held recent visiting scholarships at Monash University, Melbourne and Sydney Law School, University of Sydney.

His primary research includes: controversial deaths and institutional responsibility; the rights of the bereaved and survivors in the aftermath of disasters. Previously Director of the Hillsborough Project, he established the Nuffield funded disasters' research archive, the ESRC funded seminar series on disasters and their aftermath and the Home Office Emergency Planning-funded research into responses to disasters and their aftermath.

He said: 'The establishment of the Hillsborough Archive and the Panel is a clear recognition that the families and survivors have had neither the full story nor appropriate acknowledgement of the circumstances in which 96 men, women and children died and hundreds were injured. It confirms their resilience and courage in pursuing full disclosure of the context, circumstances and aftermath of an avoidable tragedy in the face of hostile opposition and it represents an unprecedented development in setting new standards regarding the wider public interest."

Peter Sissons

Peter Sissons is one of the best-known names in TV News - retiring in the summer of 2009 after nearly 45 years with ITN and the BBC. He is a Liverpudlian born and bred. He went to the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, and then University College Oxford where he studied Philosophy Politics and Economics.

He was the launch presenter of Channel Four News in 1982, before leaving to join the BBC in 1989, succeeding Sir Robin Day as chairman of Question Time, which he presented for 150 editions.

He is a holder of one of the highest awards of the Royal Television Society, the Judges' Award, an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University, and an Honorary LLD of Liverpool University.

He said: "The Hillsborough families, and all the people of Liverpool, must have confidence that nothing is still being hidden about this tragedy. That is our task, and as a Liverpudlian, I am glad that I can play a part in fulfilling it."

Sarah Tyacke, CB

Sarah Tyacke is currently visiting professor at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), a Distinguished Senior Research Fellow, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Chair of the International Records Management Trust (IRMT).

She was Keeper of Public Records and Historical Manuscripts Commissioner for the United Kingdom government and Chief Executive of the National Archives of England and Wales from 1992-2005 and was responsible for the establishment of The National Archives in 2003.

Ms Tyacke said: "I am pleased to have been asked to help sort these records out for the benefit of those involved and for future generations."



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