Ed Miliband's response to the statement on the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report

12 September 2012

ed milibandEd Miliband MP, Leader of the Opposition, said in the House of Commons today:

Mr Speaker,

Can I thank the Prime Minister for his statement.

I join him in remembering the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, the hundreds more who were injured and all of their families and friends.

I think today we also remember all who had to suffer the trauma of being there that day.

Let me state right up front, Mr Speaker, an uncomfortable truth for us all:

It shames us as a country that it has taken 23 years to get to the truth about what happened at Hillsborough.

The Prime Minister was right today to offer an unreserved official apology, but all governments during this period bear their share of responsibility for the failure to get to the truth.

So we on this side also apologise to the families that we didn’t do enough to help.

And what brings us here today, as the Prime Minister has said, is not just the tragedy of Hillsborough.

It is that the victims of this tragedy and the people of Liverpool were systematically smeared and portrayed as its perpetrators.

Imagine for a moment any of us waving a loved one off as they go to a football match.

And then the impossible grief of your loved one not returning.

And then imagine being unable to grieve in peace but facing two decades of torment.

A cloud of suspicion, innuendo and downright lies spread about the person you loved.

Lies about rushing the gate, lies about ticketless fans, lies about the drunkenness of the victims.

Mr Speaker, this is what the Hillsborough families have had to endure from day one of this tragedy.

And while they spoke the truth to power whenever they could, the powerful did not hear.

Nothing can compensate for what the families have suffered, but I pay tribute to all of the victims' families for their 23 year campaign for the truth.

Without the efforts of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, and Hope for Hillsborough, the truth would have remained hidden.

And we would not be here today.

And I also commend the work of the Liverpool Echo who kept the campaign going.

As well as my Rt. Hon. and Hon. Friends for Leigh, Garston and Halewood, Liverpool Walton and Halton.

Most of all I want to pay tribute to all the people of Liverpool and the people across the country who have stood with these families in the dark times, and to every single person who campaigned for this day to come.

Now rightly, as the Prime Minister said, it is the families themselves who have had first access to this report.

And people will want over many days to properly scrutinise all the documents that have been released and I welcome the Prime Minister's decision to have a debate in October.

But some things have been clear for a long time and will be clearer after the report today. I want to put those on the record:

The tragedy was not caused by fans but by an unsafe ground and terrible mistakes and negligence in policing.

There was a systematic attempt by some in the police to cover this up after the event and, disgracefully, to spread the blame to fans.

They were aided and abetted by parts of the media

And finally, it is clear that the original inquest was hopelessly inadequate, declaring the so-called 3.15pm cut-off, assuming that all those who died had sustained fatal injuries by that time.

When in fact, the post-mortem records show this not to be the case and tragically show some of the victims could have been saved.

So the picture is not one of irresponsible victims, but innocent victims.

Let down by the South Yorkshire Police, the emergency services, the Sheffield coroner, and the wider public authorities.

It is a picture not just of a tragedy, but of a gross injustice.

The victims were not only blamed by those who were supposed to protect them.

They were blamed by those who were themselves responsible for the disaster.

Mr Speaker, after truth must come the best justice that can be provided 23 years late.

Let me ask the Prime Minister therefore three questions:

First, about the possibility of new inquests.

Can I welcome what he says about the Attorney General, and can he just reconfirm the urgency that I am sure he and the Attorney recognise from this side of the House for this decision to be made?

Second, today’s revelations also raise profound questions about the behaviour of the public authorities and the police.

Can he tell us what steps he imagines those authorities to take in response to the Panel’s findings and whether he believes there is any way that those responsible can in any way be held accountable?

Third, does he agree with me that just as he has apologised on behalf of the Government and so too have Sheffield Wednesday on behalf of Hillsborough, the same should be forthcoming from all those who wronged the victims, families and supporters, including in the media – and particularly The Sun newspaper?

Mr Speaker, this is a day that has been far too long in coming.

To the families we say:

We are deeply sorry for your loss.

We are deeply sorry for the pain you have suffered.

We sincerely hope that today marks a day of truth.

So that finally you can grieve in peace.