Thread: Hillsborough
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Old 12-09-12, 09:42 AM   #43
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Shame: The Sun fell for the smear campaign and libelled the dead

One man in particular, Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, made a terrible miscalculation.

Under the headline THE TRUTH he cleared the front page to tell the world: "Some fans picked pockets of victims. Some fans urinated on the brave cops. Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life."

The words that accompanied it claimed that " drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims" and " police officers, firemen and ambulance crews were punched, kicked and urinated upon".

One anonymous copper was even quoted as saying that a dead girl had been abused, while fans " were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead".

With Merseyside still trying to come to terms with the enormity of the tragedy and families making arrangements for burying their dead, it felt like a knife being forced deeper and deeper.

Scousers, regardless of their football leanings, were apoplectic. To accuse them of killing their own was bad enough but to state as fact that they picked the pockets of the dying was a call to arms.

Overnight thousands of copies of The Sun were destroyed. There were public burnings.

Delivery men refused to touch it, shopkeepers refused to stock it. The boycott is still observed by the vast majority of Merseysiders to this day.

In 20 years, not one witness has come forward to back up any of those allegations. Not one image has been unearthed from thousands of photographs and hours of film to vindicate the slurs.

That's because they were outright lies.

Behind the scenes police were attempting to harden up the case of the drunken, ticketless mob.

Fans, including myself, were interviewed by West Midlands CID, who were charged with finding out the causes of the disaster.

But the main thrust of their questions was how much people had drunk before the game and whether anyone travelling with them did so without a ticket. Bereaved parents told how, when they arrived in Sheffield on the night of April 15, their dead children were being treated as suspects in a criminal investigation.

Grief: A woman weeps at the floral tributes outside Anfield

All were asked how much their loved ones had had to drink.

It later turned out every corpse had been tested for alcohol content, with small amounts or nothing found in all of them.

But why had it suddenly become a crime to have a drink before a sporting event or turn up ticketless in the hope of buying one off a tout? Were they implying you'd never see that at Wimbledon, Twickenham or a Rod Stewart concert? Of course many fans had been drinking before the game and some turned up without tickets.

It had happened every year at FA Cup semi-finals. Why suddenly, at this particular game, did police decide that doing either made you a potential murderer? Amid the slurs and questions, Liverpool was trying to come to terms with its grief. The day after the disaster people drifted towards Anfield seeking a focal point for their mourning.

The club's chief executive Peter Robinson opened the ground and the Kop and its goalmouth, became a shrine to the dead.

Within days, a third of the pitch would be blanketed with flowers, scarves of all colours from followers of different clubs and heart-felt messages of support from around the world.

Tribute: A carpet of flowers and scarves at Anfield in the days after the disaster

The players became social workers, sometimes attending half-a-dozen funerals a day. Striker John Aldridge said: " It hit me very, very hard. To the point where I couldn't cope.

"It weakened me physically, emotionally and mentally. The thought of training never entered my head. I remember trying to go jogging but I couldn't run. There was a time when I wondered if I would ever muster the strength to play. I was learning about what was relevant in life."

He did go back to playing though, and three weeks later, scored twice against

Nottingham Forest to knock them out of the re-scheduled semi-final .

Liverpool went on to win the FA Cup in an emotional final against neighbours Everton. But many believe the fact that the competition wasn't abandoned that year was yet another insult to the dead.

As spring turned to summer there was little to extinguish the pain and anger among Liverpudlians. Until August 4, when the late Lord Justice Taylor published his interim report into the disaster and finally the truth was heard.

And it was the complete opposite of the lies being peddled by certain people in Yorkshire and Wapping.

He ruled that drunkenness, late arrivals and fans turning up without tickets were red herrings. That there was no evidence of any kind of hooliganism and that fans were not to blame for the crush. He even described their role in trying to save the dying as " magnificent".

Instead, Lord Taylor laid the blame squarely at the door of the police.

He highlighted their planning failure which allowed " dangerous congestion at the turnstiles" and ruled that "the immediate cause of the disaster was gross overcrowding, namely the failure, when the exit gate was opened, to cut off access to the central pens which were already overfull.

"They were overfull because no safe maximum capacities had been laid down, no attempt was made to control entry to individual pens numerically and there was no effective visual monitoring of crowd density."

He hit out at the police's "sluggish reaction and response when the crush occurred" and claimed that the total number of fans who entered the Leppings Lane terrace " did not exceed the capacity of the standing area".

So much for the thousands of ticketless fans theory.

And he lambasted Chief Supt Duckenfield who he said "froze" after ordering the exit gate to be opened.

"A blunder of the first magnitude," he called it.

The real truth: Lord Taylor's report nailed police lies

Taylor's report not only vindicated the fans but gave hope to the bereaved families that they would receive justice. That the people into whose care they had entrusted their loved ones would face up to their responsibilities for allowing a wholly avoidable disaster to happen. But their hope was shortlived.

The inquests, held before a Sheffield jury, and a coroner who was in the pay of Sheffield Council ( themselves culpable for not issuing Hillsborough with a valid safety certificate) delivered verdicts of accidental death. The coroner had imposed a 3.15pm cut- off time, claiming that every victim would have been brain- dead by then and ruling out any evidence relating to events after it.

It automatically hauled the emergency services off the hook, making it that much harder to prove there had been criminal neglect. The DPP threw out all charges against the police on grounds of insufficient evidence. No senior officer was prosecuted and a disciplinary case against Duckenfield was stopped when he took early retirement at 46 on medical grounds, with a full pension.

No legal, moral or financial compensation came the families' way. The majority receiving little more than funeral expenses.

In contrast, 14 police officers who were " traumatised" by what they saw that day picked up £ 1.2million.

Astonishingly, their claims for compensation were based on the insurers accepting that their superiors had been negligent.

However, there was a momentum gathering behind the belief that a major miscarriage of justice had taken place. Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern was commissioned by Granada TV to tell the families' stories in a two- hour drama- documentary.

Researchers unearthed new evidence which undermined the police case, crucially that the CCTV camera trained on the Leppings Lane end, which they said had not been in operation, was working.

The ground engineer swore an affidavit to that effect which proved South Yorkshire Police had been lying when they told the inquest they couldn't see the extent of the crush from the control box.

This could not have been challenged at the inquests because, mysteriously, the CCTV tapes from the day were " stolen" and never found.

Memorial: The names of the 96 are immortalised outside Anfield

On December 5 1996, Hillsborough was back on the front pages of a national newspaper. This time The Mirror splashed with a headline THE REAL TRUTH urging every reader to watch McGovern's drama.

The Mirror's phone lines were swamped with angry readers demanding justice - 25,695 adding their names to the paper's petition calling on the Attorney General to launch a new inquiry. Within weeks of Labour winning power in 1997 Home Secretary Jack Straw appointed Lord Justice Stuart-Smith to scrutinize the new evidence to see if it merited a fresh public inquiry.

Once again the families believed justice would soon be delivered. But within minutes of meeting Stuart- Smith they knew they were walking into the latest brick wall.

When there was a delay at the start of proceedings, due to the absence of some family members, Stuart- Smith turned to Phil Hammond, who lost his son Philip in the disaster, and said: "Are they like the Liverpool fans, turning up at the last minute?"

The Lord Justice cross- examined nobody and studied the evidence in private. And despite discovering that 183 police statements had been edited to remove criticism of senior police management, he ruled there was not enough evidence to merit a fresh inquiry..

By now the families were running short of stamina and options but still they fought on.

They took out private prosecutions against Duckenfield and his deputy on the day, Supt Bernard Murray, who went on trial at Leeds crown court in July 2000 charged with manslaughter and wilful neglect of duty.

But once again justice eluded them. Murray was cleared of all charges and when the jury failed to reach a verdict on Duckenfield the judge halted the trial, cleared him, and ruled there could be no retrial.

This was their last collective shot at justice. It ended with eight armed police officers escorting the families out of the court building. Presumably in case they caused trouble.

Eleven years after their loved ones lost their lives for being viewed as a problem they ended their legal fight in the exact same way. But they'd battled their hearts out for some vague notion of justice. For the belief that when you bring children into this world, the facts on the birth certificate are accurate.

Still hurting: Fans lay tributes outside Anfield stadium on the 23rd anniversary of Hillsborough

And when they leave, the least you can do for them is put the true facts on their death certificate.

Jimmy McGovern said: "All the families ever wanted was for someone to put their hands up and be accountable for the deaths of their loved ones.

"But no one has said sorry. Now that runs contrary to basic human instincts. If we bump into each other, we both say 'Sorry'. It's a basic human response.

"But not in tragedies of this scale. They can't say sorry. It implies liability. That's why the families kept on fighting."

And those of us who walked through that opened Leppings Lane gate and have felt guilty ever since for coming home alive owe them.

For seeking truth in the face of vicious lies and prejudice. For fighting for the memory of people whose only crime was being naive enough to turn up at, supposedly, one of the country's finest football grounds in the belief that their safety was paramount in the eyes of those charged with their care.

If you are a football fan you should remember them when you look around today's affluent, cage-free, well-stewarded, all-seater stadiums.

You should remember the agony they went through in the first Hillsborough Disaster and the suffering their families went through in the second one.

And you should never forget that for English football's bright tomorrow they gave their todays.

Twenty years on: Flowers outside Anfield in 2009

RIP the 96

Jack Alfred Anderson, 62

Colin Mark Ashcroft, 19, student

James Gary Aspinall, 18

Kester Roger Marcus Ball, 16, student

Gerard Baron Snr, 67

Simon Bell, 17

Barry Sidney Bennett, 26

David John Benson, 22

David William Birtle, 22

Tony Bland, 22

Paul David Brady, 21

Andrew Mark Brookes, 26

Carl Brown, 18

Steven Brown, 25

Henry Thomas Burke, 47

Peter Andrew Burkett , 24

Paul William Carlile, 19

Raymond Thomas Chapman , 50

Gary Christopher Church, 19

Joseph Clark, 29

Paul Clark, 18

Gary Collins, 22

Stephen Paul Copoc, 20

Tracey Elizabeth Cox, 23

James Philip Delaney, 19

Christopher Barry Devonside, 18

Christopher Edwards, 29

Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons, 34

Steve Fox, 21

Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10

Barry Glover, 27

Ian Thomas Glover, 20

Derrick George Godwin, 24

Roy Harry Hamilton, 34

Philip Hammond, 14

Eric Hankin, 33

Gary Harrison, 27

Stephen Francis Harrison, 31

Peter Andrew Harrison, 15

David Hawley, 39

James Robert Hennessy, 29

Paul Anthony Hewitson, 26

Carl Hewitt, 17

Nick Hewitt, 16

Sarah Louise Hicks, 19

Victoria Jane Hicks, 15

Gordon Rodney Horn, 20

Arthur Horrocks, 41

Thomas Howard, 39

Tommy Anthony Howard, 14

Eric George Hughes, 42

Alan Johnston, 29

Christine Anne Jones, 27

Gary Philip Jones, 18

Richard Jones, 25

Nicholas Peter Joynes, 27

Anthony Peter Kelly, 29

Michael Kelly, 38

Carl David Lewis, 18

David William Mather, 19

Brian Christopher Matthews, 38

Francis Joseph McAllister, 27

John McBrien, 18

Marian Hazel McCabe, 21

Joe McCarthy, 21

Peter McDonnell, 21

Alan McGlone, 28

Keith McGrath, 17

Paul Brian Murray, 14

Lee Nicol, 14

Stephen Francis O'Neill, 17

Jonathon Owens, 18

William Roy Pemberton, 23

Carl Rimmer, 21

Dave Rimmer, 38

Graham John Roberts, 24

Steven Joseph Robinson, 17

Henry Charles Rogers, 17

Andrew Sefton, 23

Inger Shah, 38

Paula Ann Smith, 26

Adam Edward Spearritt, 14

Philip John Steele, 15

David Leonard Thomas, 23

Pat Thompson, 35

Peter Reuben Thompson, 30

Stuart Thompson, 17

Peter Francis Tootle, 21

Christopher James Traynor, 26

Martin Kevin Traynor, 16

Kevin Tyrrell, 15

Colin Wafer, 19

Ian David Whelan, 19

Martin Kenneth Wild, 29

Kevin Daniel Williams, 15

Graham John Wright, 17
Thanks very much for being ‘This Mornings’ Farmer’
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