By Alex Stevenson
Shocking revelations about the "deeply distressing" failures that led to 96 deaths in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster have prompted an apology from both David Cameron and Ed Miliband, leaving many MPs in the Commons close to tears.
The prime minister said he was "profoundly sorry" for the "double injustice" which had occurred after revealing how the reputations of the victims had been muddied by completely unjustified accusations of hooliganism.
Downing Street said Cameron spent around an hour with the findings of the Hillsborough independent panel's report, which had analysed hundreds of thousands of pages of official documentation relating to the disaster.
Some police officers carried out national computer checks in an attempt to "impugn the reputations of the deceased", it has emerged. In fact, as new documents have shown, the safety of the Hillsborough crowd was "compromised at every level" by inadequate safety standards, turnstiles, overcalculated ground capacity and unsafe crush barriers.
MPs called for criminal charges against those who had changed their witness statements between a private inquiry and the official Taylor inquiry, which - as it did not have full access to all the information - concluded the deaths were the result of a police control failure.
In all 164 statements were "significantly amended", while 116 explicitly removed negative comments about the policing operation.
Labour MP Alison McGovern of Wirral South spoke through tears as she called for apologies from all those who had misled the victims' families from the truth.
Labour backbencher Steve Rotherham called for the original inquest, which concluded on the advice of its pathologist that it need not consider what occurred after 15:15 on the day, to be quashed.
Analysis of post-mortem reports has confirmed that 28 of the victims did not have obstruction of blood circulation, while 31 had evidence of heart and lungs functioning after the crush.
That clashes with the original belief that victims had suffered traumatic asphyxia leading to death within a few minutes.
Cameron said that the attorney-general would have to decide whether to apply to the high court to get the original inquest quashed.
"In this capacity he acts independently of government. And he will need to examine the evidence himself," he said.
Twenty-three years after the fatal crush at Sheffield Wednesday's ground, the independent Hillsborough panel explained the findings of its report to family members at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool this morning.
It had spent the last year-and-a-half analysing masses of documents released in 2010, following an e-petition signed by over 139,000 people.
MPs' decision to release the papers earlier than usual followed intense pressure from Liverpool fans, who have sought to blame either the design of the ground or the conduct of the police for the disaster.
Public frustrations have also focused on the 1991 inquest verdict of 'accidental death', which concluded that all the victims had died before 15:15 - 15 minutes after the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest had begun.
At the heart of the controversy are attempts by the police and others to blame the fans themselves for the disaster. The Sun is still barely read in Liverpool after it suggested hooliganism was to blame. Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt sparked outrage in 2010 when he hinted at the same.
The source for what Cameron called "despicable untruths" was a Sheffield news agency and Sheffield Hallam's then MP, Irvine Patrick, News International claimed.
All-seater stadiums and the removal of barriers at the front of stands were both results of the disaster.
Then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who it has emerged was briefed on the "close to deceitful" behaviour of senior South Yorkshire police officers, wanted the chief constable to resign but did not act.
"Governments then and since have simply not done enough to challenge publicly the unjust and untrue narrative that sought to blame the fans," Cameron said.
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By Alex Stevenson
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