The panel responsible for overseeing the release of Hillsborough disaster documents was today established by Home Secretary Alan Johnson.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel will oversee the publication of papers surrounding the 1989 tragedy in which 96 Liverpool football supporters lost their lives.
The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, was today announced as the chair of the independent body, along with terms of reference under which the group will operate.
Mr Johnson said:
“Establishing the Hillsborough Independent Panel is a big step forward towards releasing public papers to the Hillsborough families.
“I am delighted Bishop James has accepted the responsibility of chairing the panel. He is respected across Liverpool and beyond for his work for the city and its people.”
Work is continuing to appoint the other members of the panel to assist Bishop James, who will chair its first meeting in Liverpool in the New Year.
Bishop James said:
“To be entrusted with this highly sensitive task by the Home Secretary is a humbling responsibility.
“I want to assure especially the Hillsborough families I will give myself wholeheartedly to the work of the Independent Panel. The fact that 30,000 people came to Anfield for the Hillsborough 20th anniversary service shows how deep the wound is still, and how great the longing is for healing.
“I am very aware that although many have waited years for this Independent Panel, the recalling of 15th April 1989 will nevertheless be a very painful and difficult time for all who were affected and for the cities of Liverpool, Sheffield and Nottingham.”
The Home Secretary met family representatives in July to assure them that papers would begin to be released as soon as possible. The families have been consulted throughout the process of establishing the panel and in appointing Bishop James.
Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall said:
“We welcome the appointment of a chairman and the publication of the terms of reference and see this as a definite step forward in this lengthy process.
“The Rt Reverend James Jones is a respected man of the cloth and we look forward to his impartial leadership of the Panel in their difficult task.
“The remaining members of the Panel are still “work in progress” and we will continue to work with government to ensure the Panel is suitably balanced and experienced to ensure a fair and proper process.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Panel’s full terms of reference can be found at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/hillsborough-tor
2. Sheffield City Council is currently recruiting three archivists to begin the work of cataloguing hundreds of thousands of documents held in the city.
3. 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.
4. For more details, contact the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3535.
5. The Bishop’s press spokesman Stuart Haynes can be contacted on 0151 705 2150 or at email@example.com
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department