THE inquiry into the leak of explosive documents about the Hillsborough tragedy has been effectively abandoned, the Post can reveal – because the culprit cannot be found.
Too many people saw the files – revealing that senior Merseyside Police officers blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster that claimed 96 lives – to identify who was responsible, officials have decided.
The inquiry, launched four months ago by the Cabinet Office after documents were passed to the BBC, was described as "technically still ongoing".
But a Whitehall source told the Post: "The problem is that so many people had access to the material.
"That means it is highly unlikely we will ever be able to identify precisely who it was who leaked it. I doubt we will ever reach a conclusion where we can say ‘This person did it'."
However, Steve Rotheram, the Walton MP, immediately poured scorn on the verdict, saying: "This calls into question whether it was ever a proper inquiry in the first place."
Back in March, the Labour MP suggested the leak came from a "senior politician, a senior civil servant, or by the BBC themselves". It was the BBC that made the Freedom of Information application for documents – relating to Cabinet and other discussions involving Margaret Thatcher following the tragedy–- before the Hillsborough Independent Panel was set up.
Mr Rotheram added: "It was a very narrow field of people who could have been responsible and yet it seems the leak inquiry is going nowhere."
There was uproar, in March, when the BBC reported that then-Merseyside chief constable Ken Oxford, and another high-ranking colleague, pointed the finger at "ticketless" and "drunken" supporters, in a briefing for Mrs Thatcher.
Campaigners for the Hillsborough families described the accusations as "appalling and disgraceful" and demanded an apology.
The Hillsborough documents will now be released on September 12 at the Anglican Cathedral.