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jim 23-08-2011 09:07 PM

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mike 25-08-2011 10:07 PM


mike 25-08-2011 10:08 PM

Rogan Taylor: The truth about Hillsborough is still out there

Many suspected establishment powers conniving to serve each other's interests. 'Blame the fans' worked for everybody

Thursday, 25 August 2011

As the nation reeled from the shock of discovering that a News International tabloid newspaper had hacked into Millie Dowler's phone; listened to (and deleted) messages to make space for more, and considerably added to the grief of her parents and loved ones, there was one place where it came as no surprise: my home town, Liverpool.
We had visited this particular circle of hell before, back in 1989, just a couple of days after the Hillsborough disaster, when the Sun newspaper published an outrageous attack on the Liverpool fans at the game. Under the banner headline "THE TRUTH", it alleged that they urinated on "brave cops" helping the stricken, and picked the pockets of their own dead. The suffering this front page inflicted on the grieving families of the 96 dead fans – and more generally on the club, its fans and the city too – was devastating to witness. Imagine what would have been done if the fans had mobile phones back then.

The Sun's calumny was clearly an attempt to smear the fans to support the police contention that the fans were ungovernable. The essence of this "defence" was clear within minutes of the disaster unfolding. For the unfortunate Graham Kelly, the newly-appointed head of the FA, the Cup semi-final on 15 April, 1989, was his first official engagement. Within minutes of the tragedy, Kelly made his way to the police observation box where match-commander, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, was in post, and asked what happened. He told Kelly that the fans had broken the gates down and rushed into the stadium. In other words: Blame the Fans. It was a lie.
In the event, Lord Justice Taylor's Inquiry principally blamed the police. But the Hillsborough families have never received justice; they never accepted the "accidental death" verdicts and the fact that so much evidence of incompetence before and after the disaster was not heard in court. They have fought for over two decades to unearth the real "truth", supported by almost everyone in Liverpool and many outside too.
That is why the recent petition to the Government urging disclosure of all relevant documents went from a couple of dozen signatures to over 100,000 in a few days, triggering the requirement of a Commons backbench committee to consider allocating time for a full debate in Parliament.
Many documents have been made available in the past two years following a BBC request under freedom of information. They were released via an independent panel set up for the purpose – but did not include Cabinet minutes or records of discussions by then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The current Information Minister, Christopher Graham, acceded to the BBC's request for these documents last month but insisted that their general publication be "managed" by and through the independent panel. However, under its terms of reference, the panel may not disclose information about the views of ministers at the time because this would "undermine Cabinet collective responsibility".
What these records of discussions among the Cabinet and others hold is unknown. At the time, Mrs Thatcher appeared sympathetic to the police view. She didn't like football; it was a bloody nuisance and a constant embarrassment when English fans caused trouble abroad. She announced her intention to "sort football out" once and for all with potentially the most damaging piece of legislation for the professional game which would require fans to buy computer-readable ID cards before they could attend a match.
Despite intense resistance from every organised group in the game, including referees, the PFA, the FA, the Football League, and most especially the fans through their national campaign led by the Football Supporters' Association, by the time Hillsborough happened, the "ID Card" Bill, as it was unpopularly known, was awaiting the formality of a Third Reading, though, subsequently, Lord Taylor's report dismissed the scheme as unworkable and potentially dangerous.
After Hillsborough and The Sun's headlines, many in Liverpool suspected a triumvirate of establishment powers conniving to serve each other's interests, and "blame the fans" worked for everybody. In fact, it's exactly the same trio so recently caught up in the phone-hacking scandal. The police (then the South Yorkshire Constabulary); News International (The Sun) and politicians (including local Conservative MPs in Sheffield and the Prime Minister herself). It would be very interesting if the disclosure of minutes of discussions at the heart of government lent any support to these suspicions.
Meanwhile the Hillsborough families and their supporters battle on. Most of the fans who died were under 30; over one third were teenagers; the youngest, 10 years old. The loss of so many young people at a football match one sunny afternoon has left an indelible scar. When Murdoch senior was recently questioned in the Commons by the Select Committee, one MP referred him to that infamous Sun headline. It was clear the 80-year-old Rupert had no memory of it. Not so in Liverpool.

Rogan Taylor was chair of the Football Supporters' Association in 1989 and attended the match at Hillsborough. He is director of the Football Industry Group at the University of Liverpool

Original Article

mike 18-10-2011 05:53 PM

Document release gives Hillsborough campaigners hope

By Carl Markham

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Hillsborough campaigners believe they are now edging towards discovering the truth of what happened in the tragedy more than 22 years ago after a momentous occasion in the House of Commons.
Last night a motion calling for all documents - including Cabinet notes and briefings - to be handed to the independent panel set up to review the papers for public release was passed unopposed in the House of Commons.
Many emotional speeches, not least by Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram and Leigh MP and former Sports Minister Andy Burnham, set the tone for the debate.

And with Home Secretary Theresa May insisting the Government is committed to disclosing the full facts surrounding the 1989 tragedy which claimed 96 lives, it now appears those who have been campaigning for justice for more than two decades will get their wish.
"We are all very pleased with the outcome last night. I thought the MPs did a great job," Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, told Press Association Sport.
"I thought Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham were fantastic. To mention the names of the 96 in the House of Commons makes sure it goes down in Hansard (the official record) and was amazingly emotional.
"We have always had caution but after last night I am hoping it will help the families in some way.
"I feel so much better about it. We are getting nearer and nearer now - hopefully our day will come.
"To hear Theresa May's speech was really pleasing, not just for us but for the whole of the city, the fans and the survivors.
"I think it sends out a message that a cover-up like that will never happen again."
The debate was sparked after an online petition was signed by almost 140,000 people and the campaign gathered pace through social media with a number of high-profile footballers throwing their weight behind the cause.
"It has taken 22 years to get this far and it was said in the House of the Commons that it was down to the power of the people," added Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son James at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
"It is never too late to get to the truth.
"There will be no end for the families because we have lost our children and loved ones and we lost them needlessly.
"Now the families may feel that, at last, everybody is listening."
For Kenny Dalglish, who was in charge of the side at Hillsborough in his first spell as Liverpool manager, the disaster took a huge personal toll and contributed to his shock resignation in 1991.
Now back at the Anfield helm for a second time he was full of praise for those who had maintained the fight for justice.
"Congratulations and thanks to Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham for bringing so much hope to many people who have suffered too long," the Scot wrote on *******.
"Steve and Andy have only one objective. Justice for the families. No political side. Only humanitarian issues
"Thank you to everyone, whatever team you support, for helping the families move closer to getting justice."

The Original article you'll find here

mike 18-10-2011 07:14 PM

Only full disclosure can lay Hillsborough to rest

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

It is bizarre that 22 years after the deadliest stadium disaster in the history of British football the question of what happened still needs to be the subject of parliamentary debate. And it is outright wrong that all official documents on the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died and 700 more were injured, have not been made public.
The explanation lies in the way that the British Establishment dealt with the disaster – and, more specifically, in the role of the police in the build-up and the aftermath. A catalogue of ineptitude, mismanagement and mendacity characterised the incident. It began with inadequate alterations of the design of the Sheffield Wednesday ground where many Liverpool fans reported they had been crushed the previous year. Then, as an inquiry by Lord Justice Taylor later showed, there was the police's failure to control the crowd entering the ground. Forty ambulances arrived at the stadium but police prevented all but one from entering, and forcibly turned back fans trying to break the police cordon to carry the injured to the ambulances.

But what was worse was the way the authorities closed ranks to shift the blame. Within minutes, a senior policeman told the first lie: claiming that fans had forced a gate which had actually been opened by the police themselves. In the weeks that followed senior policemen began asking ordinary officers to doctor their notes to delete embarrassing evidence of official shortcomings, the lack of effective radio communications and, most starkly, a section revealing that the fans "were organised and we were not".
Such reactions are hard to conceive now. But in 1989 Britain was seized with moral panic about football hooliganism. Pitch invasions and the throwing of missiles made clubs erect high steel fences between terraces and pitch – and it was against such a barrier that fans at Hillsborough were crushed. Violence on the streets before and after matches was not uncommon and led police to regard supporters with suspicion or even hostility. Only four years earlier, Liverpool fans had been involved at an incident at Heysel in Belgium in which 39 Italian fans had died. In the days before the middle classes began to attend matches in any numbers, the police had a distinct "us and them" attitude.
The families of those who died feel, understandably, that they have been treated as second-class citizens. Police ineptitude and lies were followed by a ruling at the inquest that all 96 victims had all sustained their fatal injuries by 3.15pm. The coroner thereby refused to hear evidence of what happened after that time – even though many bereaved families believed their loved ones could have been saved had the response of the police and other emergency services been better after that time.
To cover-up was added calumny when The Sun newspaper printed a front page report which claimed that fans were drunk, picked the pockets of victims and urinated on police trying to help the injured. Lord Taylor later dismissed the story, but the families were incensed that it had been written on the basis of briefings from anonymous police officers and an unnamed MP. Among the official papers the families most want sight of are those detailing the briefings given by the police to Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister.
All such documents must now be published. It is right that it be done so in conjunction with the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel now sorting through 45,000 police, council and government reports from the time. It is right, too, that the relatives of the victims should see the documents before they are generally published. But published they all should be unedited, unredacted, and uncensored. Only then can the tragedy finally be laid to rest.

mike 16-03-2012 10:52 AM

Original Article

Hillsborough justice is overdue

The leak of official documents on the aftermath of Britain's worst sports tragedy, when 96 football fans were crushed to death at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in 1989, confirms suspicions that there was something deeply political about the way the British establishment reacted to the disaster.
The claims that the tragedy was caused by drunken Liverpool fans arriving without tickets we now know emanated from senior officers on Merseyside. Originally it had been supposed that these allegations, which were later dismissed as unfounded by the judicial inquiry into the tragedy, came from the South Yorkshire Police, whose lack of crowd control was found to be the main cause of the disaster.
These events happened against the background of widespread public panic about football hooliganism in which street violence, the hurling of missiles and pitch invasions were commonplace. Four years earlier, 39 people had died in Belgium's Heysel stadium when rioting Liverpool supporters charged Juventus fans before the 1985 European Cup final. The government of Margaret Thatcher was, at the time of Hillsborough, trying to force through Parliament legislation aimed at controlling football fans by making them carry identity cards.
These leaks show that Merseyside police chiefs seemed determined to provide the Government with more evidence of the culpability of fans, despite the Merseyside Police Federation saying at the time that the accusations against Liverpool fans were "ill-informed" and "based on hearsay rather than evidence". The leaked papers also show that the Home Secretary wanted Lord Justice Taylor, who was leading the disaster inquiry, to speed up his report and back the idea of football ID cards. He did neither.
We still do not have the full story. Papers from South Yorkshire Police remain under wraps until the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which is currently sorting through 45,000 police, council and government documents from the time, publishes them in the autumn.
Let us hope that then, finally, the truth that justice demands – and the relatives of the victims deserve – will emerge.

mike 15-04-2012 07:28 PM

23 years ago today? I can't quite believe that


mike 08-09-2012 08:26 AM

From today's Independent

They are the questions the families of the dead, the survivors and their supporters believe remain unanswered despite the passage of 23 years since Britain's worst sporting disaster. How could 96 people set out to a football match one spring Saturday and end up being crushed in conditions of unimaginable horror – a tragedy that unfolded live on television? Were the circumstances of their deaths and the failure to save them covered up by the authorities? Why has no one been held responsible? Why were the memories of the victims so grossly tarnished?
For the people of Liverpool, what happened at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield on 15 April 1989 remains an open wound. Next Wednesday, following a tireless campaign that has seen ordinary families take on some of the most powerful interests in the country, answers might finally start to emerge. They could make uncomfortable reading for the authorities. After two years spent sifting through hundreds of thousands of pages of documents submitted by some 80 authorities associated with the tragedy – from South Yorkshire Police to the Football Association and 10 Downing Street itself – a panel under the leadership of the Right Rev James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, will hand over a 300-page report to the families who lost loved ones.
Contained within its pages will be the "maximum public disclosure" of information surrounding the disaster and its disputed aftermath. Speculation is already mounting that the details could lead to the reopening of inquests which returned controversial accidental death verdicts two decades ago. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Liverpool has called for an apology from the Prime Minister for the failures which led to the crush and the subsequent official "smearing" of Liverpool fans.
Sitting in the office above the Hillsborough Justice Campaign shop opposite Anfield's Paisley Gates, Steve Kelly's eyes fill with tears as he talks about the crush which killed his brother, Michael, and the terrible effect it had on his family.
The 59-year-old former council worker is chairman of one of three support groups to emerge from the disaster. But he has never had the strength to read the slim "body file" presented to him by the authorities detailing his brother's injuries. It is too painful.
A meeting with the nine-strong panel last month has reassured him that the truth – or at least a version acceptable to the families – will emerge next week.
"We want to exonerate the 96. We want it put down where the blame lies. There has never been a clear message to the country. They still think they were drunk, stealing from the bodies of the dead and urinating on police. It was the stereotypical view of a Scouser and a stereotypical view of a football fan in 1989," he says. "No one wants anyone's head on a spike. But I want to see people named," he adds. "If they had admitted mistakes then – they are only human and we would have forgiven." For Mr Kelly and many others Lord Justice Taylor's 1990 report into the tragedy did not go far enough, although it rejected police claims the crush was caused by aggressive, drunken fans and blamed a loss of police control instead.
The mechanics of the crush are not disputed. There was a build-up of Liverpool fans outside the ground before their team's FA Cup Semi Final against Nottingham Forest as they struggled to make their way through ageing turnstiles. That resulted in the order to open a new gate into the Leppings Lane end. The sudden influx of 2,000 people into the central pens saw the crowd swell to double the official capacity. Fences designed to stop hooliganism prevented escape, resulting in pressure building up at the front of the crowd. Soon, 96 were dead and 730 injured. That much is clear.
Kenny Derbyshire, 46, never made it into the ground. Stuck in a tunnel which led into the Liverpool end, he recalls being lifted off his feet by the weight of the crowd until the barriers collapsed at the front of the ground sending fans sprawling forward. That day has left an indelible memory.
"It has taken my life away," explains the mild-mannered driver. "It is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last think about when I go to bed," he says. "It is running through my head like a video tape: people screaming for help that never arrives."
Joe Anderson, the newly elected Labour Mayor of Liverpool, believes emotional closure can be achieved once the full facts are known and compares the forthcoming publication of documents to the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings.
He considers the decision to limit the scope of the inquest to events leading up to 3.15pm on the day when it was claimed all victims were dead was a "deliberate attempt to hide the truth".He adds: "It was a tragedy of enormous proportions and negligence on a scale that is difficult to quantify or understand. The authorities locally and nationally colluded to deny the people the right to have the truth aired."
The aftermath: Unanswered questions
* Why was the match staged at Hillsborough, the scene of previous crushes, when it did not have a safety certificate?
* Why were Liverpool fans given the smaller end of the stadium, with fewer turnstiles, despite substantially outnumbering Nottingham Forest supporters?
* Why was the police presence reduced by 10 per cent compared with the previous year's match at the same venue between the clubs?
* Why was evidence given by police officers on the day omitted from the subsequent inquiries?
* Why was the kick-off not delayed to allow the fans safe passage?
* At the inquests, why were all the fans who were killed assumed to have been dead by 3.15pm?
* Why did only one ambulance reach the dying fans on the pitch?
* Why did only 14 of the dead reach hospital?
* What happened to CCTV cameras and tapes that disappeared from the police control room and the ground?
* Who authorised the smearing of Liverpool fans? What did 10 Downing Street know?
Timeline: Search for truth
15 April 1989: A crush at the start of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool Football Club and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield results in the deaths of 96 football fans.
19 April 1989: The Sun publishes front-page story headlined "The Truth", claiming that drunk, ticketless Liverpool fans caused the disaster. It led to a boycott of the newspaper on Merseyside.
January 1990: The Taylor report blames the deaths on police losing control and recommends all-seater stadiums and the removal of anti-hooligan fences. Lord Taylor rejects claims that fans were drunk.
September 1990: The Director of Public Prosecutions concludes there is insufficient evidence to justify proceedings against police or others.
November 1990: The inquests resume. A coroner returns verdicts of accidental death in all cases, but none of the evidence heard is from after 3.15pm on the day of the disaster. Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was the police commander on the day of the match, retires from the South Yorkshire force on health grounds. Disciplinary action against him is subsequently dropped.
November 1993: A judicial review into the inquests backs the coroner's handling of the case.
December 1996: Jimmy McGovern's TV film about the disaster highlights new evidence.
February 1998: Lord Justice Stuart Smith's "scrutiny" of the incident is published. He says there is no new evidence to warrant fresh inquests.
July 2000: Private manslaughter prosecutions begin against two senior South Yorkshire Police commanders. The jury is unable to reach a verdict on Chief Superintendent Duckenfield and acquits his deputy, Bernard Murray.
March 2009: The European Court of Human Rights rejects a challenge by a bereaved parent, Anne Williams, over the official version of her 15-year-old son's death. She claims that the teenager was still alive after 3.15pm, but the court says her challenge is too late to be considered.
February 2010: The Hillsborough Independent Panel begins examining papers related to the case.

mike 11-12-2012 01:22 PM

mike 24-12-2012 07:29 PM

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