Published 26 May 2016
A month ago on the 26th April 2016, a cloud was lifted from the city of Liverpool. I’ve thought long and hard whether to throw my ‘twopennethworth’ into the things that have been written and said. After some deliberation I’ve decided to drop my thoughts down….
They were labelled “animalistic” (Chief Constable Peter Wright), “tanked-up yobs” (Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary Sir Bernard Ingham), and “mental” (Paul Middup, Police Federation rep).
It took 27 long and painful years before the law finally recognised that which everyone else knew: Liverpool fans were not in any way responsible for the deaths of 96 of their own.
Instead, blame for the disaster sits with South Yorkshire Police, but the ensuing cover-up spread to those institutions we rely on to empower, protect, serve and safeguard us.
That’s the reason this article is fit for a LinkedIn audience. Sure, my average business contact may not see their part in Hillsborough or its legacy, but you, we, and all of us have paid a price for this tragedy.
The cost is human first and foremost, but the tax pot is also much lighter and we have to face the fact it’s because we have corruption and corrupters at the heart of our system.
At least two Prime Ministers, two home secretaries, a Conservative government, a Labour government, another national police force, members of the medical fraternity, sections of the press and the FA, with differing degrees of complicity, all abetted the Hillsborough lie.
I’ve been a Liverpool FC fan all my life, I’m more an armchair fan these days, I’m kinda over the fan-to-fan team hatred that has unfortunately embroiled football, but I’ve been an Anfield regular and I’ve followed my team on the road, home and abroad. But here, I aim to write without that particular bias. And for the record, I’m no conspiracy nut – I’m not even a fan of Michael Moore.
At long last, it’s a matter of public and legal fact that far-reaching sections of the establishment executed a clinical, callous, disgusting and sociopathic campaign of lies, distortion, and hypocrisy to shield the police from blame at Hillsborough.
During inquiry number #1, rank and file matchday police had their statements polished up by senior officers to amp up the message that fans were misbehaving. West Midlands police – the investigating force – knew this. But they did and said nothing.
Police and the coroner ‘concluded’ that all deaths occurred before 3.15pm because it mitigated the poor response time. But reality didn’t fit their lie – victims were still alive at 3.30. So timings were amended, footage was buried, and witnesses were discredited to keep unhelpful details under wraps.
The initial Hillsborough inquest was quite damning of the police. But Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher told home secretary Douglas Hurd in no uncertain terms that putting blame on the police wasn’t a smart move. Thus the right decision fell to politics.
Years later Jack Straw made half-arsed noises about a new investigation. But his boss, Prime Minister Tony Blair, literally said, “Why, what’s the point?” And a new inquiry was quelled before it got started.
The message that ticketless Liverpool fans rushed the gate was pushed by inexperienced Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, the man in charge of Hillsborough that day. He reported this as fact to the FA and the BBC – and before bodies were cold, the message was on the world wires.
And we’d hear worse in days to come. We heard about Liverpool fans pickpocketing the dead and urinating on ‘brave cops’ as they tried to resuscitate victims.
That’s a reference I’m sure you’ll recognise. It’s one of the most galactically slanderous things ever written. And what’s more, the two main UK newspapers in that particular media family neglected to accurately report Hillsborough again; when the April 2016 verdict came in. (I can’t bring myself to say their name, but we all know where they can shove their lies….and it certainly ‘don’t shine there’…
I write this broad-strokes snapshot of the foul play at Hillsborough and in its aftermath to show just a fraction of the depths, lengths and breadths our revered institutions would eventually go to, to protect each other. Over 27 years, whole organisations contributed to the utter denigration of 96 innocent lives, plus families, and fans.
And that’s the message. Why is it always we, me, you – the people – who are made to suffer when there’s blame up top? Ego, greed, self-preservation … whatever the motive, the authorities have a disgraceful track record of saving their skin at the expense of our wellbeing.
Take the collapse of the banks: tax money bailed them out as leaders got seven-figure payoffs. And we’re left to deal with austerity.
Did anyone actually get punished? Were banking leaders banished? Did politicians resign? Did culture really change?
No, of course not. The top tier closed ranks and aside from a few red faces and a regulation or two more, precious little happened. I’m sick of the “lessons will be learned” mantra that gets tripped out time and time again.
Maybe we’ll see justice in 27 years.
The Leveson Inquiry. A few lambs were sacrificed but it touched few in real power. And sure we rejoiced the day another newspaper in that aforementioned family was shut for its part in phone hacking …
The Chilcot inquiry. More a Shakespearian tragedy, or farce….whichever way, it’s another embarrassing debacle or duck and dive from those in “power”.
But when Prime Ministers and former Prime Ministers are sending texts of support to the powerful newspaper editor – and not the family of the murdered schoolgirl – I’d say we have a problem.
These are two mere drops in the ocean. My word count won’t survive much longer, certainly not long enough to go into what happened with the London riots, Jean Charles De Menezes, Rotherham, Jimmy Saville and that can of worms.
Let’s just say that the great injustices of our time come with a price tag that’s financial – sure. And human, undoubtedly.
But alas, corruption is so engrained in our system that justice will continue to escape the masses, whilst the sick few up top pull each others’ strings.
We are constantly made to fund the lies and the greed and the incompetence of a few people at the top – on all sides of the political divide. It has taken 27 years to find, to finally find, justice for the 96 killed that day – if people had told the truth earlier it would have spared lives, and our faith.