PRESSURE was mounting on South Yorkshire Police today to release secret files on the Hillsborough disaster.
It comes after home secretary Jacqui Smith called for documents to be made available a decade before the usual 30-year disclosure rule.
The breakthrough was given a cautious welcome from families of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the tragedy.
Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) president Trevor Hicks described it as “a little late, but welcome”.
The businessman, who lost his two teenage daughters Vicki, 15, and Sarah, 19, on the Leppings Lane terrace, said he would be seeking personal assurances files had not been “sanitised” or altered.
And he said the families should be given time to study the documents - possibly by setting up a “Truth Commission” - before they were put on general release.
Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: “There has been a History
of cover-ups about Hillsborough so this News
has to be preceded with caution.
“I would still call for an independent enquiry.
“If files are released I’d painstakingly go through everything.
“Now there is movement and I think the shift in attitude is in response to the constant pressure by Liverpool supporters at games with their badges and banners.
“These people have a strong sense of truth and in this day and age that’s very heartening.”
A Whitehall source said: “It is still up to the police to make the documents public.
“But this message from Jacqui Smith carries a lot of weight.”If the files are made public Hillsborough families want answers about:
the controversial 3.15pm cut-off time
the changing of 180 police statements
who orchestrated the alleged “cover-up”the meeting headed by prime minister Margaret Thatcher on the day after the disaster during which instructions were allegedly given stating “the police are not to be blamed”.
Mr Hicks added: “I think Andy Burnham is to be congratulated for delivering on this.
“This is as a result of the tremendous response at the anniversary service last Wednesday.
“At long last the government has finally realised that the only way to get closure is to come clean.
It’s like opening Pandora’s Box - until you open it, you don’t know what’s there.
“We are not looking for anyone to be hanged.
“But if there is evidence that shows culpability we expect those people to be dealt with properly.
“All we want is the truth, whatever the truth is.
“I lost Sarah and Vicki and as a father I am perfectly entitled to know the full facts about their death and what happened afterwards.
“This could take weeks, months or even years.
“But we’ve been waiting for 20 years so what’s a little bit longer?”At the 20th memorial service on Wednesday secretary of state for culture, media and sport Andy Burnham was heckled as he gave a speech in front of the Kop.
He was forced to stop as chants of Justice for the 96 rained down from the stand.
The MP was seen to nod in agreement. And later in Liverpool town hall the minister said he entirely understood the sentiments of Liverpool families and fans.
In a Home Office statement Jacqui Smith said: “The government is committed to helping those who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough tragedy.
“That is why I will be working with colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Attorney General’s Office to put out any information that exists that could shed light on the disaster and its aftermath in the public domain as soon as possible.” THE LIVERPOOL ECHO