Tissue samples from Hillsborough victims kept without families knowledge
Bodies of victims of the Hillsborough Disaster had tissue samples retained without their families' knowledge, the Hillsborough Independent Panel said.
The panel, which is examining documents relating to the 1989 disaster, has confirmed that it has become aware that in 10 of the post-mortem examinations carried out on those who died as a result of the disaster, tissue was taken for further examination and was retained.
A spokesman for the panel said: "Although this was in accordance with established practice at the time and the standard procedures were followed, it has become clear since then that removal and retention of tissue in this way in many post-mortems around the country has caused distress to bereaved relatives."
The panel is now making contact with those families affected to explain the circumstances and to ask if they would like to know the position concerning their relatives.
The spokesman said that if families want to, the panel will discuss with them the options in relation to remaining tissue and assist them to ensure it is "dealt with respectfully" in accordance with their wishes.
The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool and chairman of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, said: "I am sorry that this additional distress has been caused to some of the Hillsborough families, who have suffered greatly already.
"I know from my previous experience in Liverpool how much anguish has resulted from this practice.
"The panel believes that it is right that affected families should have the chance to find out about this now."
Dr Bill Kirkup, medically qualified member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, said: "New legislation and professional guidance have been introduced to ensure that nothing is removed from a body without the knowledge of relatives and that all body tissue is properly dealt with in accordance with relatives' wishes.
"This legislation and guidance was not in place at the time of the Hillsborough post-mortems, and sadly the result has been additional distress.
"We are dealing with this as sensitively as we can, and I hope that families' privacy will be respected."