Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson: 'Long road for Hillsboro

Bill Esterson with Barry Devonside


Speaking after the release of the Hillsborough Panel's findings, Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson today said "the long road for the truth was over, now is the time to step up for the fight for justice and for accountability".

 
Bill welcomed the release of the report and praised the work of the panel who scoured hundreds of thousands of pages of documents before producing its report.
 
The Sefton Central MP said he was pleased for the families of the 96 as they have been completely vindicated after their long struggle.
 
Speaking in the House of Commons after the Prime Minister apologised to the families, Bill said : "One of those who sadly died at Hillsborough was 18 year old Christopher Devonside. Christopher's father Barry will welcome what has been said today about the potential for a new inquest. I know it is something which he has wanted. I would also like to add my voice to the calls for full accountability and the possibility of criminal prosecutions which have been made by many of my colleagues, by the families and by many other people."
 
Following the debate, Bill said the families had been vindicated in their 23 year long campaign.
 
Bill said: "The Hillsborough Panel's findings after scouring the documents has proved what we have long suspected, there was a systematic cover up by the authorities immediately after the tragic events of April 15, 1989 and for many years afterwards.
 
"We know that the fans were not to blame, but the blame for the tragedy lies in the fact that the ground didn't meet minimum safety standards and was not suitable to hold large sporting events; the blame lies with the woeful decisions being made on the day by the authorities and by an inadequate response from the emergency services which led to even more people losing their lives.
 
"What then followed was a cover up of epic proportions which saw the police attempt to shift the blame by sullying the reputations of the fans and the victims. The bodies of each and every one of the victims, even the children, were tested for alcohol levels to back the police's initial excuse that one contributory factor was that the fans had been drunk.
 
"But the police's black propaganda machine didn't stop there. They then went on to check whether each of those who had lost their lives had any criminal convictions.
 
"The extent of the cover up and the shifting of blame was quite staggering. It was, and is, insulting to the 96 victims, their families and the whole of Merseyside as well as the country.
 
"Unfortunately there was an all too willing section of the media which was willing to repeat these lies under the headline 'The Truth'. That’s why people on Merseyside still don’t buy The Sun."
 
Bill said that now the truth was really out, justice must now be done.
 
Bill said: "The first step in securing justice for the families is to get the Attorney General to go to the High Court and get the original inquest verdicts overturned so that new inquests can be held which consider all the evidence now published for the first time.
 
"Then we will be pushing for those who were responsible to be held accountable for their actions and their decisions. This could mean criminal prosecutions being brought against those who really were responsible and who actively worked to shift the blame.
 
"There were 19 people from the borough of Sefton who lost their lives at Hillsborough. Their families have been left behind and are still picking up the pieces. At this time, we should remember people like Barry Devonside from Formby who’s son, Christopher was 18 when he died at Hillsborough. And people like Anne Williams who used to live in Formby. Her son Kevin was just 15 when he died and my thoughts are with Anne, Barry, their families and the many others who have suffered over the years as a result of the lies told about what happened that day.
 
"They have been fighting for 23 years for the truth. The long road for the truth to be disclosed is finally over. Now is the time to step up for the fight for justice and for accountability."