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Hillsborough

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2010

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 15 December 2009 I announced the establishment of the Hillsborough Independent Panel under the chairmanship of the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool. The panel will work in partnership with Government and other public agencies to oversee the maximum possible public disclosure of governmental and other agency documentation relating to the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath. It will produce a report on its work, outlining the extent to which the information disclosed adds to the public understanding of the disaster, and will make recommendations as to a permanent Hillsborough archive. The panel will also consult with the families to ensure that their views are taken into account.

I can today announce the appointment of seven further members of the panel and that the panel will hold its first meeting in Liverpool in early February. This will begin the process of consideration of documents for release, initially to the Hillsborough families, together with the other purposes of the panel. The further panel members are:

Christine Gifford, member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives;

Katy Jones, television producer;

Paul Leighton QPM CBE, former deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland;

Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, formerly associate medical director, Department of Health;

Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology at Queen’s University, Belfast;

Peter Sissons, broadcaster; and

Sarah Tyacke CB, former chief executive of the National Archives and Keeper of Public Records.

I am making these appointments in view of the range of skills needed and the hundreds of thousands of documents within the panel’s scope. With the scale of the task in mind, there may be a need for further panel members. In particular, I expect to announce in due course the appointment to the panel of a suitably experienced lawyer.

The panel members whose appointments I am announcing today are experts in their respective fields and I am grateful to each of them for agreeing to take on this important task. In addition to this Statement I am also placing in the Libraries of the House a document setting out the expertise each member will bring to the panel’s work and their respective letters of appointment. All panel appointments are for a period of two years.

Under the Bishop of Liverpool’s leadership the panel will be independent and rigorous in its work, but will also act with sensitivity and understanding. That over 30,000 people attended the service marking the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough in April shows how deep the wound in Liverpool remains. I believe that the independent panel has an historic opportunity to bring healing to those affected by the tragedy, and that its establishment can help to begin to bring an end to the grievances strongly felt by many.