hillsborough files open

LONDON - The British government is to release previously unseen documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster, the Home Office said yesterday.

LONDON - The British government is to release previously unseen documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster, the Home Office said yesterday.

Alan Johnson, the British home secretary, told the mothers of three of the 96 victims of his decision in a meeting in London on Tuesday. The families of the victims will be able to see the files before any are made public as they may contain sensitive information about their relatives' last moments.

Calls for the files to be released were renewed in April at the 20th anniversary of the disaster, when fans were crushed to death at a match.

"The government is committed to full disclosure of information held centrally and by local agencies in order to help provide a permanent record of documentation relating to the tragedy. Disclosure will take into account the wishes of the families to protect information about the victims," an official said.

The tragedy was caused by massive overcrowding in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield's Hillsborough stadium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

To ease overcrowding outside the Leppings Lane end, police opened an exit gate, allowing supporters to flood into the central pens. Liverpool fans, fenced in, were crushed to death.

After the tragedy, Lord Justice Peter Taylor was commissioned to conduct an inquiry. He was deeply critical of the police response at Hillsborough, but his most significant recommendations were the removal of perimeter fencing and the creation of all-seater stadiums. - Sapa-AFP

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