Football: UK opposes release of Thatcher Hillsborough talks

17th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The British government said Wednesday it will appeal against a ruling that then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher's discussions about the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster should be made public.

The withheld files are said to include reports presented to Thatcher, minutes of meetings she attended and correspondence between Downing Street and her interior minister at the time, Douglas Hurd.

A seven-member independent panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, is going through the wealth of unseen files relating to the tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ordered the release of records of a Cabinet meeting held shortly after the disaster, saying it was in the public interest.

He rejected the argument that doing so would inhibit "free and frank" exchanges between ministers bound by collective responsibility, if they thought their private discussions could be made public in future.

However, the Cabinet Office confirmed Wednesday that the government would appeal by taking the matter to the Information Tribunal.

The ministry maintains it would be wrong to put out any information before the panel has said it would be right to do so and the families of the victims had seen it.

"It is important that any release of information should be managed through the panel's processes and in line with their terms of reference," a spokesman said.

The tragedy was caused by massive overcrowding in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield's Hillsborough stadium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The disaster was the catalyst for the removal of perimeter fencing and the introduction of all-seater stadiums in English football.

© 2011 AFP

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