Confidential Hillsborough documents to be released to affected families

The relatives of those who died during the disaster 23 years ago wil be able to view previously secret files following a long campaign for justice, with the wider public to follow

The families of the 96 Liverpool fans crushed to death at Hillsborough in 1989 have learnt that they will finally get access to secret police and government documents on September 12.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel has analysed over 400,000 pages concerning the disaster, with the official enquiry finding that the main cause was due to the failure of the South Yorkshire police to correctly control the crowd.

However, an un-named senior police officer sought to place blame on intoxicated Liverpool supporters in a note to the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher.

Lord Justice Taylor's official report said the, "great majority [of supporters] were not drunk or even the worse for drink", and that "some officers, seeking to rationalise their loss of control, overestimated the drunkenness in the crowd."

The Hillsborough Independent Panel will disclose documents relating to the disaster to the families of those who died on September 12, 23 years after the tragedy.

Once the panel has informed the families concerned, disclosure will then be made to the wider public.

The panel will also publish a report which explains how the disclosed documents add to public understanding, with the announcement made via an official statement on Wednesday.

The statement read: "The Hillsborough Independent Panel is now approaching the completion of its work of securing maximum possible disclosure of documents relating to the disaster and its aftermath.

"Disclosure, as it has been made clear, will be first to the Hillsborough families and then to the wider public.

"At the same time, in line with its terms of reference, the panel will publish its report explaining how the disclosed documents add to public understanding.

"The independent panel has accessed and analysed documents from over 80 organisations and running to over 400,000 pages.

"Earlier this year the panel announced that because it was still receiving new material it would complete its work in the autumn.

"The panel is on course to achieve this and announces today that the disclosure to families will take place on Wednesday September 12 in Liverpool.

"The panel hopes that by making this announcement it will give the bereaved families sufficient time to prepare for the disclosure.

"One of the panel's central objectives has been consultation with the bereaved families.

"At its first meeting in February 2010 it met representatives of the three family groups. The panel has also contacted those families not affiliated to the groups. It is the panel's intention that these consultations should continue.

"In due course the panel will contact each family to explain details of the disclosure arrangements."