Home Office apologises to Hillsborough families not told of pathology review

97 people lost their lives because of the Hillsborough disaster. Credit: Family photos

The Home Office has apologised to the families of the Hillsborough disaster victims after it emerged they were not told about a review into pathology failures.

The government department said it had established an independent review to consider what went wrong with the original pathology report into the deaths at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, and ensure similar mistakes were not made in the future.

But the announcement sparked anger when it was revealed families of those who died had not been told of the review, which the Home Office said was started in July.

The Home Office were branded as 'thoughtless' over the review. Credit: PA

In a statement, the Home Office said: "The legacy of the Hillsborough disaster continues to deeply impact us all, and the families of the 97 people who lost their lives have shown vast strength and courage.

"This review is one of the recommendations of the Bishop James Jones report.

"We are committed to responding to the Bishop's report as soon as practicable, and will engage with the families during the process."

The Hillsborough memorial at Anfield. Credit: PA

The pathology review, which will be chaired by forensic science expert Glenn Taylor, was set up following a recommendation in a 2017 report by Bishop James Jones.

Original inquests, which were quashed by the High Court in 2012, heard no evidence from after 3.15 pm on the day of the disaster.

The decision was based on pathology evidence that all the victims suffered the injuries which caused their deaths before that time.

Family reaction

Margaret Aspinall is a Hillsborough campaigner who lost her 18-year-old son James who died as a result of the disaster.

She said: “Why weren’t the families informed? No media should have been told before the families.

Margaret Aspinall questioned why families were not informed of the review. Credit: PA

"The families should have had an input from the start. Why did they wait until now to do the review?

“It’s really upsetting after everything that has happened in the last 33 years.”

Politicians reaction

Metro Mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotheram, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the region's MPs called for the review to be suspended so a proper consultation could take place.

In a statement, they said: "The 'families first' approach established in the aftermath of the 2009 Hillsborough Independent Panel - and the longest coronial inquest in British legal history that followed - was set with one purpose: to ensure the experiences and treatment of families bereaved through the Hillsborough disaster would never again be repeated.

Andy Burnham with Hillsborough Support chair Margaret Aspinall and Steve Rotheram. Credit: PA Images

"Even after three decades of torment and injustice at the hands of the establishment, the families took that assurance forward in good faith.

"That is why it feels so incredibly thoughtless, tactless and insensitive for the Home Office to announce a review into the failures of pathology at the original Hillsborough inquests without consulting the families and loved ones of the 97 first.

"It beggars the question, who in Government is choosing to run roughshod over this principle - and why?"

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