Yesterday a Hard hitting report was published covering the Hilsborough disaster, one of the UK’s worst sporting tragedies, where 96 individuals died in a disastrous crush at the Leppings Lane end of the Hilsborough football stadium. Hilsborough was an old stadium, with a flawed design, and with a flawed safety plan, and with the addition of terribly flawed policing on the day, was a disaster waiting to happen. Police opened a gate to relieve crowd pressure outside the ground, which forced people into one of the internal crowd areas, and that led to a crush against fences and barriers.For a full view of what happened that day look Here for a view of the Incident, and here for significant exerpts from todays report
New details that have emerged from the latest report are that police activity Caused the crush, then ineptitude resulted in 41 of the people who died not receiving the proper medical attention down to police and other emergency services having poor planning for such a situation, and poorer implementation.
In the days following this disaster, police officers re-wrote their initial notes, to quote from the report "Some 116 of the 164 statements identified for substantive amendment were amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to SYP." subsequent investigations have either managed to miss this entirely or fail to apreciate the scal of the changes.
As investigation into the cause of the tragedy commenced The local police started pushing out a selection of misinformation to distract from their failings. They put out claims that the police had been attacked by fans while they had been helping the injured, that fans had urinated on police who were helping, that fans had been drunk, and that they had been stealing from the bodies of the dead. All of these stories were pushed out through a local news agency, who didn’t pass it on until their reporters had been told this story by four separate senior policemen in the local force and by the local MP. all had provided the story unprompted, The Agency passed this story on but with caveats that it was suspicious of the story. Several newspapers reported this with appropriate questions for the police, The Mirror going as far as to say that the police were putting about a dishonest story. However the Sun, the Murdoch tabloid national Published the story in full with no dissent, under the Banner headline “THE TRUTH” and Rupert Murdochs attack dog Kelvin McKenzie has never lived this down
Since that point Liverpool and The Murdcoh empires relationship have irrevocably broken down. Sales of The Sun in that part of the country have dropped to close to zero. With a vast majority of newsagents throughout the city refusing to stock the paper. Immediately after Kelvin rang the Manager of the Liverpool side the phone call is reported to have gone like this
The reporter who wrote the story,Harry Arnold, later said told the BBC he regretted the headline, which he insisted was MacKenzie's, but said he had written the story in a "fair and balanced" way.
"When I saw the headline, 'The Truth', I was aghast because that wasn't what I'd written. I'd never used the words the truth," he said.
MacKenzie told him not to worry and said he would "make it clear that this is what some people are saying".
• Kelvin MacKenzie: Kenny, we have a bit of a problem.Kelvin did eventually issue an apology, but then in 2006 at a business meal he said that the entire apology had been Ruperts idea and that he was "not sorry then and I'm not sorry now." It is not till today, Twenty three years after the original mistake that he has finally issued a full and unreserved apology, although even now, in a weasel way he has sought to shift the blame onto others.
• Kenny Dalglish: Aye.
• KM: How can we resolve it?
• KD: See that headline you put in, ‘THE TRUTH’? Just have another one, as big: ‘WE LIED. SORRY.’
• KM: Kenny, we can’t do that.
• KD: I can’t help you then.
Since then a Campaign groups of fans, supporters, and politicians from The Liverpool area have worked hard, attempting to get some form of Justice for the 96 victims, decades of pressure finally resulted in an independent review, headed by the Bishop of liverpool, staffed by specialists in the Media, medicine and policing, along with Archivists and document researchers. The current reprot is the outcome of two years of search through tens of thousands of documents.
Yesterday evening and Today, current and ex editors of the sun have come out to finally apologise, but this is widely seen as far too little, far too late. How a news organisation could in any way claim to have any reporting skills when it had misreported a story so terribly and refused to correct the reporting for over 20 years, instead playing on a a created myth of a city wrapped in self pity is beyond understanding.
That this has been allowed to go on for over 20 years is a stain that Police , politicians and media that parroted the line should be deeply apologetic for. And today a Former Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire force has come out to say that it is essential that any investigation is taken forward to prosecution of those responsible. However other Senior officers seem less than apologetic.
Why was it done and why was it allowed to happen? Well Liverpool was one of the centres of the Left in the country. And the South Yorkshire police in the previous few years had been involved in Crushing the miners
Hillsborough and Battle of Orgreave: one police force, two disgraces | Football | The Guardian
It has been argued that the police commanders were allowed to get away with it in case they were needed for further industrial disputes, but the current report does not show that there is any written evidence of this happening.
They were two of the bitterest landmarks of the 1980s, but the connections between them have not previously been fully appreciated – theHillsborough disaster, 23 years ago this Sunday, in which 96Liverpool supporters died, and the "Battle for Orgreave" five years earlier, the most violent episode of the coal miners' strike.
Speaking to the Guardian, the prominent lawyer Michael Mansfield QC and the Merseyside MP and shadow cabinet minister Maria Eagle said they believed South Yorkshirepolice's conduct at Orgreave and in its aftermath, when it brought failed prosecutions against 95 miners, revealed a culture of malpractice with impunity that had not been remedied by the time the same force policed the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
The similarities between the events have not been fully explored, they argue, but the links will help to inform the Hillsborough families' fight for some form of justice – the full truth about what happened to the victims, and accountability from those culpable.
So where next? Firstly The original flawed inquest result must be overturned, The decision by the coroner to say that all fatalities had occurred by 3:15 now looks like an extremely bad decision that prevented investigation of the police and ambulance service role in the fatalities. After this, If a case can be made for perverting the course of justice, then we must see those involved up before judge and Jury. But on top of this, with yet another example of the poor morals of the Murdoch Newspaper stable, people should commit themselves further to not Buying the Sun.
Further Worthwhile Reading
(updated after suggestions from Eurotrib readers)