Tears and applause as Burnham leads tributes to Hillsborough families – and calls on top policeman to quit

27th April, 2016 3:58 pm

hillsborough

Andy Burnham brought tears to the eyes of MPs and the public in the Commons today as he delivered a soaring tribute to the Hillsborough victims and their families – at the same time as calling for the chief constable of South Yorkshire police to resign.

Burnham, a longstanding campaigner on the tragedy, praised the heroism of the men, women and children killed at the 1989 football match and highlighted the “dignity” shown by their families during the course of a “27-year cover-up”.

He also unleashed a searing attack on the political, police and media “elites” who suppressed the truth over the catastrophic errors that led to the disaster.

In a highly-charged speech, which prompted Labour and SNP MPs to break into applause, Burnham called on David Crompton, South Yorkshire’s top policeman, to step down because his position had become “untenable”. He said the force had “gone back” on their public apology of 2012 – when the original inquest verdicts were quashed – and prolonged the new inquest, putting the families “through hell” once again.

“The much bigger question for the South Yorkshire Police to answer today is this: why, at this Inquest, did they go back on their 2012 public apology?

“When the Lord Chief Justice quashed the original inquest, he requested that the new one not degenerate into an “adversarial battle. Sadly, that is exactly what happened.

“Shamefully, the cover-up continued in this Warrington court room. Millions of pounds of public money were spent re-telling discredited lies.

“Lawyers for retired officers threw disgusting slurs; those for today’s force tried to establish that others were responsible for the opening of the gate.

“If the police had chosen to maintain its apology, this Inquest would have been much shorter. But they didn’t and they put the families through hell once again.”

Burnham also attacked the political failure that meant the voices of Liverpool fans were ignored over decades.

“This cover-up went right to the top. It was advanced in the committee rooms of this House and in the press rooms of 10 Downing Street.

“It persisted because of collusion between elites in politics, police and the media.

“But this Home Secretary stood outside of that. And today I express my sincere admiration and gratitude to her for the stance she has consistently taken in righting this wrong.”

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