Kevin Williams — [Mrs Anne Main in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:26 pm on 22nd February 2012.

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 3:26 pm, 22nd February 2012

Like other hon. Members, I shall not detain the Chamber long. I congratulate Stephen Mosley on the way—it was indeed forensic—in which he laid out the case for a new inquest.

I wanted to add once again the voice of the city of Sheffield to the debate. It is an important voice. My hon. Friend Steve Rotheram outlined why the debate still matters. It matters primarily because Anne Williams wants to know what really happened to her son and how he died. It matters to all the families of those who died, and who were involved in the tragedy—the other 95. It matters to the people of south Yorkshire, and particularly to those who were involved in dealing with the tragedy that day, and its aftermath. It matters to a city that, alongside Liverpool, is still struggling hard, 23 years on, to come to terms with what happened that day. It matters because even now, every day of every week, as I said in the debate in October, flowers and wreaths are laid outside Hillsborough stadium in memory of those who died. More than anything else, in a sense, it matters because we need to know the truth.

I think the details, showing why we need an inquest to establish some of the truth of what happened, have been laid out clearly. There is the fact that, as has been mentioned several times, the coroner drew the line at 3.15, which we know was wrong. That matters primarily because it meant there was no examination of how the emergency services and police responded to what happened during the afternoon—the simple facts of the case. Also, we need a new inquest because evidence was suppressed at the time, through, it appears, the falsification of police statements. That evidence is now emerging clearly. Debra Martin has bravely come out into the open and gone on the record in the media. She was on “Calendar” on ITV Yorkshire last night, laying out clearly what happened that day, as many hon. Members have mentioned: how Kevin died in her arms calling for his mother. She has put that on the record. She has gone on Radio Sheffield today. The city now knows that the truth about what happened to Kevin and the other 95 who died is not entirely out in the open. That is why the case for an inquest is strong.

Whatever the new allegations are, and however serious they are, it is absolutely critical that all the papers relating to the disaster, both public and private, are handed over to the inquiry. Although that commitment has already been made from the Government’s point of view, the case still needs to be reiterated. The allegations made against West Midlands police will need further investigation, as it now appears that there was a deliberate suppression of the facts relating to the case. The inquest will help with that, but it will take more than an inquest to deal with the suppression of the evidence that occurred in 1989 and 1990. The relationship between West Midlands police and South Yorkshire police in the suppression of that evidence also matters. The inquest is just one of the critical elements in helping to deal with what happened and how evidence was recorded after the disaster.

If the allegations are accurate—and there is no reason to believe that the claims made by Debra Martin are anything other than accurate—they alone justify the case for a new inquest. Debra Martin is absolutely clear about events. She looked at her watch when Kevin Williams died; it was four o’clock in the afternoon. She is absolutely crystal clear about that. We need a new inquest. The Attorney-General must respond in clear terms this afternoon. There must be no prevarication; we need that inquest.

Finally, let me thank Yorkshire Television for bringing some of the new evidence to light and for helping Debra Martin clear the record and the air about her role on that day. The role of the media is important in all this, and it is watching what is happening—never mind The Sun, it does not have a part in any of this. We all want an inquest and it is in the public interest that we get it.