THATCHER FILES TO BE RELEASED; Government 'Must Publish' H'boro Papers

Article excerpt


CONFIDENTIAL files detailing the discussions Margaret Thatcher had in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster will be made public.

The government was ordered to publish files provided to the then-prime minister in the wake of the tragedy, as well as minutes of meetings she attended.

Despite a 30-year ban on records of cabinet discussions being made available, it was yesterday ruled the information should be released in the public interest within 35 days.

The files, said to include reports presented to Mrs Thatcher and correspondence with home secretary Douglas Hurd, could unmask Thatcher's thoughts on the 1989 stadium disaster.

The publication of the papers would precede the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which is in the process of deciding what information should be released to the public.

The surprise judgement, welcomed by relatives of fans who died at Hillsborough, was made by Information Commissioner Christopher Graham in response to a Freedom of Information request refused by Downing Street in 2009.

He reversed that decision, claiming "the information in question would add to public knowledge and understanding about the reaction of various parties to that event, including the government of the day, in the early aftermath [of the disaster]".

The Cabinet Office had argued disclosure would impact negatively on the freedom with which ministers can engage in "free and frank discussions", and on the convention of collective responsibility. …