Britain’s Formal Apologies

Print Friendly





Political leaders are to be commended when they acknowledge the State’s responsibilities for misdemeanor and criminality. However the process seems selective – some events merit contrition, but not others…


David Cameron apology over Hillsborough cover-up, September 2012: “Mr Cameron told the House of Commons the panel found the safety of the crowds at Hillsborough had been “compromised at every level”. He said ‘deficiencies’ at the ground were well known and it failed to meet minimum safety standards.

The prime minister apologised for the double injustice, which was both in the ‘failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth’, and in the efforts to denigrate the deceased and suggest that they were ‘somehow at fault for their own deaths’.”


David Cameron apology over Bloody Sunday killings, June 2010 “Mr Speaker, I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world.

And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve.

But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.”


Foreign Office apology over Pope, April 2010: “The Government has been plunged into a major diplomatic storm after Foreign Office officials circulated an offensive memo mocking the Pope’s forthcoming visit to Britain… The Foreign Office also issued an unusually frank apology, saying it ‘very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused’.

It said the document was ‘foolish’ and did not reflect the Government’s views. A spokesman added: ‘Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful. The text was not cleared or shown to Ministers or senior officials before circulation. As soon as senior officials became aware of the document, it was withdrawn from circulation’.”