Steve Rotheram, Labour MP for Walton in Liverpool (pictured right), this evening addressed the House of Commons during a debate on the full disclosure of government documents relating to the Hillsborough stadium disaster in April 1989 which claimed the lives of 96 football fans.
Rotheram saved some of his strongest criticism for The Sun newspaper and its then-editor Kelvin Mackenzie, now employed by the Daily Mail.
Below is an edited version of his address to the Commons:
"Is it any wonder that some people have doubtful and distorted views as to the exact course of the disaster when misinformation began almost immediately after the players were led off the pitch at 3:06pm. The BBC and ITV News that very afternoon misreported what had occurred and it is important to understand the effect this had as it formed the immediate public perception of Hillsborough… But the faux pas committed in the immediate aftermath when there was much uncertainty and a degree of confusion pales into insignificance when you consider the malicious manner in the way some sections of the press reported things and which still clouds thinking today.
"Just a few days later, before people had even had time to arrange funerals for their loved ones, The Sun newspaper infamously printed the banner headline "THE TRUTH" on the personal instruction of its editor, Kelvin MacKenzie. It claimed that drunken fans had forced the gates open because they did not have match tickets, that they had stolen from the corpses lying around the pitch, assaulted police officers and emergency services, robbed cameras and other equipment from press photographers and urinated on police officers helping the victims. This was one of the cruellest blows and it beggars belief that certain sections of the media still give air time to this most despicable of men to air his bile and mendacity…
"Months later the rag he edited admitted the allegations it had made were totally false. But the damage had been done. To this day the people of Merseyside do not buy that paper. But it has taken the hackgate allegations against Murdoch's News International for people to at long last sit up and take notice of the claims we made 22 years ago, that there may be some truth to our allegations of collusion between the press, certain politicians and the police.
"It is claimed that truth is the first casualty of war but the same can be said for Hillsborough. Misdirection, obfuscation and damn lies were all used as smokescreens to deflect attention away from the guilty.
"Today I call for the Prime Minister to make a statement in this House and to apologise for the mistakes that were made and the mishandling of this whole tragedy on behalf of a previous government. I would also ask him to join me in pushing for the full disclosure of the senior police officer and Conservative MP who allegedly leaked the story to the press and to press for a front page banner headline in The Sun newspaper admitting that they lied in April 1989."