What is the disclosure process?

The aim is to provide maximum possible disclosure of documentation related to the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath to the Hillsborough families and then the wider public, taking into account legal and other considerations explained below.

Were the bereaved families consulted?

Consultation with the Hillsborough families has been a key aspect of the Panel’s work and it has been in regular touch with them throughout. At its first meeting in February 2010 the Panel met representatives of the three family groups. In the course of its work contact has been made with at least one member of each of the bereaved families including those who are not part of one of the three representative groups.

What is the scope of the disclosure process?

The process covers all documentation held by central government, local government, other public agencies and some private bodies which relates directly to events surrounding the Hillsborough tragedy and its aftermath up to and including the Taylor Inquiry, the Lord Justice Stuart-Smith review of Hillsborough papers in 1997-98 and the private prosecution in 2000. The relevant agencies include the South Yorkshire Police, the ambulance and fire service in South Yorkshire, the South Yorkshire (West District) Coroner and Sheffield City Council.

Who has carried out the disclosure process?

The Hillsborough Independent Panel was established by the UK government in January 2010 to oversee the release of documents related to the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster and its aftermath. Find out more about the Independent Panel.

How many documents were disclosed?

The Panel reviewed over 450,000 pages of material, of which 335,000 pages have been disclosed on this website. The majority of the material reviewed but not disclosed on the website consisted of duplicate copies of disclosed documents.  Other reasons are set out below.

Why has some material not been disclosed?

The vast majority of information held by central and local government, other public agencies and some private bodies has been disclosed. There are a limited number of exceptions:

  • Duplicate documents.
  • Documents which are already in the public domain.
  • Documents containing extremely sensitive information such as post-mortem reports. Such documents will be made available to families of the deceased on request.
  • Documents of low relevance to the disaster, including administrative documents.
  • Documents containing information covered by legal professional privilege.
  • Documents containing information which public bodies are legally prohibited from disclosing (including information provided in confidence by third parties).

In all but a very small number of instances, the Panel has had full access to all documents not disclosed on this site. The cases where this has not been possible are described in Appendix 2 of the Panel’s Report.

The Panel’s terms of reference also provided for ‘information indicating the views of ministers’ to be exempt from disclosure, ‘where release would prejudice the convention of Cabinet collective responsibility’. In the event, government waived this exemption and no such material has been withheld from publication.

Did any organisations choose not to disclose information?

All organisations and individuals holding relevant information recognised the importance of the Panel’s work. However, for legal reasons two organisations did not allow the Panel access to some of their legally privileged material (see Appendix 2).

Why has some material been redacted?

In some cases the documents that have been disclosed have certain names or pieces of information removed from them.  This is known as redaction.

Redaction has been kept to a minimum while complying with any legal constraints on disclosure, such as the Data Protection Act 1998.

Where information is redacted it is made obvious to the reader.

For more information on why and how documents were redacted see the Redaction Framework section of this site.

Where can I find out more?

Visit the Appendices section of our Report pages to find more information on the disclosure process.