Twenty three years ago ninety four men, women and children went to a football game at Hillsborough and suffered injuries so severe they died, by 1993 the death toll had risen to the final number of 96.
There are many witnesses who say that many fans who died were alive well after 3.15pm but the coroner decided that all those who died on the day were dead by 3.15.
Fifteen-year-old Kevin Williams, who lived in Formby, which is in my constituency, died at Hillsborough that day. There are a number of people who say that they were with Kevin up to nearly 4pm. Those people all tried to save Kevin’s life but were unable to do so as they lacked the necessary medical training. The people who tried to help Kevin include at least one police officer, yet their testimony was ignored by the coroner.
The suspicion from families, friends and supporters is that the 3.15 cut off is a convenient way of avoiding evidence that lives could have been saved if ambulances had been allowed on the pitch and if police officers had been told to help people out of the Leppings Lane pens. A new coroners’ inquest would allow evidence to be presented that Kevin was still alive after 3.15. That in turn would mean that recognition could be given to the families that decisions were taken that denied their loved ones medical care or rescue. Decisions that cost lives. Those who took such disastrous decisions could be held accountable after all these years for causing the deaths of the 96 people who died, deaths which could have been prevented had action been taken as soon as it was clear there was a problem.
Kevin’s mother, Anne is one of a number of people who has fought since that day to get the truth about what happened at Hillsborough officially recognised.
A petition was launched by Anne Williams, and successful in gaining the required number of signatures to request a debate in parliament about a new inquest into Kevin’s death. Over a 100,000 people signed that petition and a number of MPs asked for a debate to be organised by the Back Bench Business Committee. The Back Bench Committee is given a limited amount of time to arrange debates by the government and has very little time given the range of issues which it is asked to support. The committee gave the time for the previous Hillsborough debate at which the Home Secretary, Teresa May made a number of promises about releasing papers including those from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet about what happened at Hillsborough.
It seems to me that the government should not be asking the Back Bench Business Committee to find time for debates when it made a promise to let people have time in parliament if they gained 100,000 signatures on a petition. That is an issue for another day, but I will be pressing the government to hold a debate in the main House of Commons Chamber at some point.
A number of my colleagues and I have applied for a debate in the second chamber of the House of Commons, Westminster Hall. A debate could be held there as early as February 21 and 22. However, Westminster Hall is not the same as the House of Commons' main chamber and there will not be a vote in Westminster Hall. I believe that a vote calling for a new inquest would be very hard to ignore and I believe that a debate needs to be held in the main chamber of the House of Commons unless a new inquest is arranged. The Attorney General has said he is considering a new inquest. He needs to make that happen. A vote in the House of Commons will show the strength of feeling from MPs of all parties and from the public.
Kevin and more especially his mum, Anne deserves the full support of MPs and so do the other families. Justice must be done and be seen to be done for the 96 and for their families.