AN ADMISSION by an ex-Cabinet minister that Labour blundered over Hillsborough was welcomed last night.
Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, who served in Tony Blair’s administration, said they “failed very badly”.
He was quizzed on Labour’s review of evidence to the 1989 Taylor Inquiry, which concluded there was nothing to add.
Lord Falconer said that was “disastrous and wrong-headed”.
Last night Walton Steve Rotheram said: “This is one of the first times I have heard someone at that level talk complete sense.
“It is encouraging he accepts that we, the Hillsborough campaigners and families, were right all along.”
Former Sports Secretary Andy Burnham, who initiated the Hillsborough Independent Panel, said: “We have always accepted that successive Governments, Tory and Labour, must share the blame.”
The latest breakthrough came in a radio interview with Lord Falconer.
The Labour review 13 years ago was headed by then-Lord Justice Stuart-Smith, who was charged with re-examining the Taylor Inquiry and considering whether the inquest procedures for the 96 victims were conducted properly.
He concluded new evidence added nothing to the Taylor Report.
Lord Falconer said: “I think he concluded there were no problems in relation to the way it was handled.
“We accepted that and that was a disastrous and wrong-headed decision.
“It made the families in the Hillsborough disaster feel after one Establishment cover-up, here was another one.”
But he denied the Labour administration had pressurised the judge, who on retirement became Sir Murray Stuart-Smith.
He said: “I am absolutely sure Sir Murray came completely to the wrong conclusion because he concluded all the investigative processes produced a satisfactory result.
“They obviously did not because they did not uncover all the evidence and they left the parties most affected by what happened with an utterly legitimate sense the state had failed properly to investigate this matter.”
He added: “The reason I am critical of Sir Murray is because whatever material had been withheld – and material had been withheld – he should have realised the inquiries and inquests had not given the public confidence a proper inquiry had been undertaken.”
Sir Murray has not responded to Lord Falconer’s comments.