Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Hillsborough- Unlawful Killing

See links at the bottom for essential background.
It is said again and again that "conspiracy theories are never proven true!" Yet again and again this is shown to be false. Case in point: one of the worst disasters in British history. On the fifteenth of April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield the gates of one of the stands were opened and a large crowd of people ran in to watch a football match. This resulted in the stand becoming grossly overcrowded to the point where almost a hundred people were crushed to death; and another thousand were injured. It was the biggest single loss of life since the Blitz. The match in progress was an FA Cup semi final and the full horror was seen by millions of people on live TV. The official inquest, known as the Taylor Report, recommended changes to health and safety procedures at football matches and architectural adaptations to football grounds, but the bottom line of the inquiry was that nobody was to blame except the victims themselves, and that it was just a freak tragic accident. There has been a long campaign by the relatives of those who perished in the disaster for "truth and justice for the 96", to take authorities to task and overturn the original verdict of "accidental death". They have been helped by the testimony of PC Trevor Bichard who revealed not only that the police contingent was criminally negligent, but also that they tried to cover up their own fatal blunder. Now finally after twenty-seven years, one of the longest coroner's inquests in history has concluded that the football fans who died in the Eppings Lane stand that day were unlawfully killed. After the judge Sir John Goldring read out the verdict there was an eruption of cheering and weeping from the public gallery and calls of "God bless the jury!" Outside the jubilant campaigners sang the Liverpool FC anthem You'll Never Walk Alone, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36138337.

What happens now? Clearly this is not the end of the matter because there will have to be an investigation into the proven scheme of deception that the authorities have just given up denying. The reports were reeled off in court about police without proper training, equipment that didn't work and who made foolish decisions. The worst of all was the decision to open the gates to the ground in an attempt relieve the crowd pressure outside. This led to the mass influx of excited Liverpool supporters, running into the stand to watch the game, but in fact went to their deaths. The police also mishandled the response to the carnage. For example, they treated it as public disorder instead of a medical emergency and wasted time deploying police dogs, not first aid teams. Then the conspiracy began; witness statements were edited and the Chief Superintendent, David Duckenfield, lied to the original investigators. Charges now being considered are perjury, causing death by gross negligence and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Today South Yorkshire Police accept the inquest's findings and will cooperate completely. Duckenfield and many others could well go to jail. I wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes here. In the aftermath of the tragedy Rupert Murdoch's flagship tabloid The Sun published a front page article entitled "THE TRUTH!" This claimed that the Liverpool fans picked the pockets of dead bodies, assaulted each other in their panic to escape and attacked the police and emergency services. This was a total fabrication, yet the newspaper has only ever issued a lukewarm and conditional apology saying they were "duped" by an independent news agency. The TV sports presenter Gary Lineker called this "disgusting and uninspiring. They have no shame." I quite agree and I don't buy their excuse for a moment. I strongly suspect that The Sun was used as a tool of suppression, publishing its venomous front page deliberately to distort public opinion. To this day, you rarely see The Sun on sale in Liverpool. The Sun today did not cover the Hillsborough inquest on its front page, nor did Murdoch's top broadsheet The Times. They were the only national journals not to do so, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36148748. Will this finally persuade people to stop buying these rags? I'll post an update as soon as one is available, but a major lesson has been learned already, that the legal system is not geared towards truth and justice; if it were then the verdict we have today would have been issued in 1989, not after over a quarter of a century of non-stop activism by dedicated relatives who lost their loved ones. One young man, Tony Bland, was caught up in the disaster and was given intensive care in hospital for over four years. He had suffered catastrophic brain damage as a result of his injuries and never regained consciousness from his persistent vegetative state. On the third of March 1993 he died after the hospital removed his life support system with the permission of his parents. He was twenty-two years old. The victims of the Hillsborough disaster were ordinary people, mostly working class football fans from the Merseyside area. They have been vindicated because of a dogged and passionate legal struggle by other ordinary people. Imagine a situation in which ninety-six elitists were to die at the hands of working class negligence; say the incompetent crew of their yacht causes it to hit a reef and sink. Would those elitists need to hack their way through an impenetrable legal jungle for twenty-seven years to get the blame correctly assigned? What would The Sun say about their conduct in the lifeboats?

2 comments:

Xylomet said...

Good work Ben. As I always say, Conspiracy 'theories' don't kill people & cause them suffering, Conspiracies do. I hope the families get Justice and not just a verdict!.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks, X. I'm keen to follow this, and I hope so too.