Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson demands justice for the 9

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Barry Devonside and other Hillsborough families.

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said this week's historic Hillsborough debate in Parliament was a huge step in getting justice for the victims of the 96 families.

Speaking in the House of Commons Bill Esterson insisted that there should be full disclosure of all relevant government documents from the time of the 1989 tragedy.

Bill met victims' families before the debate, including Barry Devonside whose 18-year-old son Christopher was killed at Hillsborough.

It was from Barry's own words that Bill quoted the Formby father's worst day:"Having left the ground at around 3.45pm I made my way to the Halifax Road and hopefully on to the point as to where I had arranged with Chris to meet following the game. I was half way up the Halifax Road when I met up with Chris's friend and two others who had travelled with us. Asking where Chris was, Jason, Chris's friend told me that I should expect the worst. He said Chris had been killed.

"I turned around and made my way towards the ground. As I passed a telephone box there was about 100 people wanting to use the telephone. I suppose they were wanting to ring home to let their family know that they were safe or give bad news.

"I spoke with a female constable and said to her that I had just been told that our son had been killed in the ground, and she said that I should go to the gym which was being used as a temporary mortuary. I made my way there in total fear that what Jason had said to me was true.

"Arriving at the gym I asked a lady where is the temporary mortuary. She pointed me in the direction which was a few yards away. I knocked on the door and it seemed a life time for some one to answer. It was a police man who answered. He must have been the biggest policeman that I have ever seen.

"I realised why he was there. The police must have been expecting trouble. I gave him my name and that of our son Christopher and our address. He said stand there and he went in. He must have been away 10 or twelve minutes and on his return he told me that there was nobody of Christopher's description. I could not understand as Jason had told me that he had gone into the temporary mortuary and gave Chris's full details to the police, his name, address and the name of his father and stated that I was at the game. I also gave the police officer a description of Chris as he was wearing a Welsh international rugby shirt. But 'no' was what I got.

"I wanted to call my wife but I could not remember our telephone number. A police sergeant offered to help. He spoke on my behalf but was told that we were ex directory. I said to the police sergeant that we had never been ex directory, but she refused to put us through to my wife. It was at this point that a lady resident of Sheffield, Betty Thorp, kindly offered me help. She offered to drive me around a number of hospitals looking in hope that Jason was wrong and he might be in one of the hospitals.

"I think we visited three hospitals including a mortuary where we saw a number of police officers seating on the floor looking shocked and in the middle of the floor was a pile of cloths about 3ft high. Nobody said a word.

"Having been looking for Chris for about five or more hours I was told to go to a police station where they may have some information. This I did and waited for my brother and brother in law to arrive .Following this around 11pm we were told to go to the temporary mortuary where Chris had been all of the time. Having identified Chris the police wanted certain information from me. Apart from the relevant information the only interest they had was about alcohol and had we consumed any?  I can only think the police needed time to get their story right and that is why they needed all the time in the world to keep a father away from his dead son.

"On leaving the gym with Betty Thorp and leaving the ground to look for Chris there had been a large number of press. they were shouting over to me do you have any comment to make about Liverpool supporters urinating on the dead and stealing from the same. It was this misinformation which the police and the press were already spreading."

After speaking in the debate Bill Esterson said it was his duty as a Merseyside MP to fight for justice for the 96.

Bill said: "There were 18 people from Sefton who lost there lives at Hillsborough. It is for them, their families and for all of the 96 victims who died on that dreadful day that my Labour colleagues and I will fight for the truth.

"Throughout there have been constant obstacles thrown at families and Hillsborough campaigners in their quest for the truth. Throughout there has been a cover-up. We can no longer accept the underhanded suppression of the truth by the authorities and that includes the government.

"All of the families need to know all of the facts. They need to see all of the documents unredacted. They need and they deserve all of the answers that they want.

"For the families of the 96 it's only when they are satisfied they have all the information otherwise many will wonder whether they know the truth or not. Why did things happen? Who took decisions? What was discussed by police officers? Why were notes changed made to the notes of junior officers? What discussions took place between politicians? What influence did the culture of the time have? Why were ambulances not allowed on the pitch? Why were fans pushed back into the enclosure as they tried to escape? Some of these questions have been answered but there may be other answers, the truth may be different to what was said at the time and to what lies in the cabinet papers. Did police officers agree a line? Why did the press say that Liverpool fans stole from the dead and urinated on the bodies? Why did The Sun vilify the dead and show them and their families such disrespect? Why was the most experienced senior police officer in South Yorkshire removed from his duties and yet not replaced with someone who understood how to balance safety and control?

"The Hillsborough disaster was not an accident. There were major police failings on the day. And there was a major cover-up which has gone on for more than two decades since.

"This was a conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice. For 22 year the families have been put through the torture of having to constantly hear the public misinformation which time and again has found its way in the national media.

"It is time we ended the families' torture and finally allowed the 96 to rest in peace by ensuring the full disclosure of all documents and information which the families need to see."