Saturday, 20 June 2009

4,000 supporters 'March4Justice' in London

The Hillsborough 'March4Justice' took place in London today. Five families who lost their loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster handed in a 40,000-signature petition to 10 Downing Street. More than 4,000 supporters marched through the streets of London to demand further investigation into the events of 15 April 1989. The petition was handed in just after 1430 BST.

Barry Thompson, chair of March4Justice which organised the event, speaking to the BBC said: "There were some very emotional scenes, especially when the families gave the boxes of petitions in to 10 Downing Street. We have had so much support from people in Liverpool, the UK and we have also have 480 letters of support from 67 different countries worldwide. Those who lost their loved ones said it was a positive thing handing in papers showing so much support for their plight. We gathered 40,000 signatures in just seven weeks, it has been a mad time. Let's just hope this encourages the government to realise its obligation to the families of the 96, the fans, the club and the city as a whole."

Jenny Hicks, who lost her two daughters in the tragedy, said it was time that "someone took responsibility". The campaign is also insisting over 300 boxes of information about the tragedy be released. Ms Hicks added: "This march helped increase the pressure on the government to take some action. We were shocked and delighted when it was agreed that the documents should be released but we don't want to be waiting for years, we have already had to wait two decades. At the moment it's a waiting game, we just hope this march will have helped make a difference."

The marchers also want any new investigation to recognise that not all the victims had died by 1515 BST on the day of the disaster. It was the cut-off time imposed during the original inquest into the deaths.

The Echo reports that new “Home Secretary Alan Johnson has agreed to meet Merseyside MPs to discuss how and when the Hillsborough files can be released." Earlier this year Jacqui Smith asked South Yorkshire Police to release the 300 boxes of information it holds on the disaster. Alan Johnson said: "it is 'high time' the uncertainties suffered by the families of the victims are brought to an end,” says the story. Cabinet minister Andy Burnham had encouraged the previous Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, to release the documents. She had already “agreed in principle to dropping the 30-year secrecy rule on Home Office and police documents relevant to the Sheffield disaster 20 years ago. Mr Johnson's decision to meet the MPs has allayed fears that the recent ministerial reshuffle would delay or threaten that release,” says the story. “The invitation has been sent to MPs by Halton's Derek Twigg, who has acted as go-between.”

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