Liverpool

David Cameron asked for Hillsborough comments apology

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Media captionDavid Cameron asked for Hillsborough comments apology

Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged to apologise for remarks made about relatives of those killed in the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr Cameron was quoted saying bereaved families pressing for more details about the 1989 tragedy were hoping to find something which did not exist.

Luciana Berger, Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, called for an apology.

A Downing Street spokesman said the PM regretted any offence caused but Ms Berger said that did not go far enough.

Ninety-six Liverpool football fans died as a result of the tragedy at the 1989 FA Cup Semi Final in Sheffield.

'Grossly offensive'

Ms Berger, speaking in the Commons during Prime Minister's Questions, said to Mr Cameron: "Yesterday it was reported you compared the families of those who died at Hillsborough to a blind man in dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there, and claimed you weren't getting enough credit for the release of government papers relating to the tragedy.

"Will you take this opportunity to apologise to the relatives and friends of the 96 victims for these grossly offensive comments?"

Mr Cameron responded: "It is this government that has done the right thing by opening up the Cabinet papers and trying to help those people find the closure they seek."

The Prime Minister had been quoted making the comments in an interview with the Liverpool Daily Post.

He told the newspaper he doubted if the Hillsborough families would find closure even when they saw the full documents.

A No 10 Downing Street spokesman said later: "The Prime Minister's comments were not in any way meant to cause offence - and he clearly regrets if they have.

"His intention was quite the opposite; he was expressing his sympathy for how hard it can be to find closure in coming to terms with grief."

'Flippant answer'

But Ms Berger responded: "That's not an apology, he just doesn't get it."

Earlier the MP had written to Mr Cameron following PMQs repeating her call for a "proper apology", saying she was disappointed with his response to her question.

"Today I offered you the chance to deny that you made all of these remarks. You did not. I gave you the chance to apologise to the victims' families and friends for the hurt your comments have caused. You did not," she wrote.

Labour's Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, also called on Mr Cameron to encourage South Yorkshire Police - the force responsible for crowd control at Hillsborough stadium - to release its documents.

She called for the independent panel reviewing the tragedy to have "unredacted access to all papers".

Mr Cameron said: "I'm not fully aware of the situation with regards to the police papers so I don't want to give a flippant answer across the despatch box.

"The government has done what it should in terms of the Cabinet papers, but I'm very happy to look at what you raise and come back to you."

Last week ministers agreed to release papers of detailed discussions by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet in the aftermath of the disaster.

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