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E-petition Over Hillsborough Gains Momentum

Laura Brown on the campaign for disclosure of Cabinet documents

Published on August 19th 2011.

E-petition Over Hillsborough Gains Momentum

When the King calls, it seems only natural his people will come running.

LFC manager Kenny Dalglish took to his personal Twitter account this week to urge fans to sign an e-petition calling for the government to make a full disclosure and to publish all the documents, discussions and reports relating to the Hillsborough disaster. It’s believed they include correspondence and reports sent to and from the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, relating to the disaster.

The only people here that matter are the families of the 96 and I would urge all supporters regardless of affiliations to sign the petition

Within hours, nearly 25,000 people added their signature to the site. In the time it has taken to write this article, in fact, almost a thousand new names have been added.

The e-petition, posted by Liverpool fan and journalist Brian Irvine, was launched after the Cabinet Office said it would be appealing against the decision, made by the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham to make all the papers that relate to the tragedy, including those at cabinet level, available to the public.

Brian says, "The release of these documents is crucial to, most importantly, providing closure for the families of the 96 in revealing the true events of April 15, 1989. In addition, dispelling the lies and malicious slurs instigated by 'The Sun' newspaper and editor Kelvin McKenzie that have been hanging over the City of Liverpool and the supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the past 22 years.

"The people affected by Hillsborough have suffered enough to be denied the truth from their own government who can provide them with answers."

The Cabinet Office appealed against that decision arguing that to release the information now would pre-empt the inquiry into the stadium disaster where 96 fans died in 1989.

The Liverpool manager sent a message to his twitter followers yesterday evening providing a link to the e-petition saying, “Please sign this petition and RT. Think it is very important that we support this.”

It has also been supported by sports presenter Gaby Logan, footballer Joey Barton and former Liverpool player Michael Owen on the social networking site. MPs Steve Rotherham, Luciana Berger, Marie Eagle and Shadow Culture Secretary Andy Burnham have also backed the campaign. Andy Burnham had already promised to contact the Prime Minister when the government announced they would appeal against the release of the documents.

New rules on e-petitions mean that with 100,000 signatures the issue is granted debate in the House of Commons. At its current rate, that benchmark could be met over the weekend.

Criticised in the past week by government mouthpieces as a medium for social ill and unrest, the added momentum for this latest Hillsborough campaign is being powered firmly by Twitter and Facebook as fans share the link to the e-petition and urge their friends and followers to do the same. The e-petition’s creator Brian Irvine created it a week ago and sent it to a few people. He got around 40 – 50 retweets, he tells me and there were around 80 or 90 signatures, so he forgot about it because he felt it was getting nowhere. Suddenly it began to snowball as celebs and footballers began to mention it, culminating in the post by Kenny Dalglish.

With sports journalists from national newspapers, like Oliver Kay, who writes about Liverpool also taking up the mantle, the petition is able to reach far more people than it might earlier have done. Those who have campaigned for greater transparency from the government over the tragedy will be wondering, was Twitter the momentum we always needed to finally get results?

Brian adds, “The only people here that matter are the families of the 96 and I would urge all supporters regardless of affiliations to sign the petition and get it before the people with the power to deliver justice.”

You can sign the e-petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2199

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