Thursday, 13 September 2012

Justice for the 96 – not yet

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has said he is profoundly sorry for the "double injustice" of the Hillsborough football disaster.  Speaking after an independent report into previously unseen documents about the tragedy, the prime minister said police had failed to do enough and had also tried to blame Liverpool fans.

The true extent of the cover-up of official failures at Hillsborough was revealed yesterday for the first time with the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report.

Ninety-six fans died after a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's ground in 1989. The families have, after 23 years, at last got the truth and got an apology for all the slurs on the characters of the 96 in particular and the other Liverpool fans who were blamed by the Police and the media, especially The Sun newspaper.  Everyone has been saying sorry today but more is required. The shock at the level of the cover-up has reverberated around the country.  It has been the most shameful episode in British police history and even the current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police has agreed with that.

Campaigner Trevor Hicks said the report showed a faster response from emergency services could have saved lives.  Mr Hicks, who lost two daughters at Hillsborough and is a member of the family support group, said it would now press for criminal action against those involved in the disaster.

The report has been compiled by the Hillsborough Independent Panel which has scrutinised more than 450,000 pages of documents for the past 18 months.

The victims' families have always challenged the original inquest, which concluded all the victims were dead or brain dead 15 minutes after the game had kicked off at 15:00.

Arif Ansari, BBC North West Political editor, commented:-

It's taken 23 years of campaigning for governments to be forced to take the injustice of the Hillsborough tragedy as seriously as this.  But the mass of evidence, disclosures and revelations was enough to get the full apology from David Cameron that the families have wanted desperately for so long.  The prime minister's statement vindicates what Hillsborough families have always claimed: that there was a deliberate police conspiracy to hide their own culpability and a campaign to divert the blame onto the fans.

Amid gasps in the Commons, Mr Cameron revealed that 164 police statements were significantly altered and that criminal checks were done to "impugn the reputations of the deceased".  But the most significant development is whether the original inquests should be reopened.  Today, the prime minister issued a profound apology to the families. It has taken too long. But clearly he did mean it.

Some people are talking about Justice having been done but it hasn't - not yet.  We now need to publicly name those responsible, prosecute them and punish them - I suggest 23 years in prison might be an appropriate sentence for some of the police concerned.


  1. Welcome though Cameron's apology is I suspect it's far from altruistic.
    The police at the that time were a law unto themselves. Thatcher needed them to keep herself in power and thus government had little or no control over their treatment of mere football supporters.
    He did not get anywhere close to condemning government failings. Or Thatchers part in manipulating Lord Taylor's interim report in August 1989.

  2. Such a tragedy -- and a travesty. Thank God for investigative committees which get to the bottom of such things, albeit too late to help the poor families who lost loved ones.


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