Liverpool FC might not be performing too well on the pitch however season 2012-13 will go down as one of the most significant club’s history given yesterday’s news regarding the Hillsborough disaster.
Yesterday’s report complied by Hillsborough Independent Panel after viewing previously unseen documents, despite confirming what many had already expected, still exposed a shocking and sorry tale of deceit and incompetence. The fact that some of members of victim’s families fainted when learning of it’s contents and that many MPs gasped in astonishment as the details were revealed in Parliament is an indication of how unexpected and how deep and widespread the lies and cover ups went.
Now the truth is out. You will have read about the details by now however, in short we learn that the South Yorkshire amended and doctored statements, around 164, to ensure that any criticism of them was removed. Moreover the police didn’t stop there, in an attempt to cover up their failings they actively sought to shift the blame onto Liverpool fans, suggested aggressiveness, ticketlessness and drunkenness even going resorting to trawling through police records to check if any of the victims had prior criminal convictions.
We learn that the emergency service’s response was inadequate and ambulances were kept outside the ground unable to treat the victims. We learn that the security and crowd control measures at the Hillsborough Stadium came up short. More alarmingly, and most important than anything else, is that around 41 of the victims could have survived undermining the coroners assertion that everyone was dead by 3-15pm.
“It is not possible to establish with certainty that any one individual would or could have survived under different circumstances. It is clear, however, that some people who were partially asphyxiated survived, while others did not. It is highly likely that what happened to these individuals after 3.15pm was significant in determining that outcome. On the basis of this disclosed evidence, it cannot be concluded that life or death was inevitably determined by events prior to 3.15pm, or that no new fatal event could have occurred after that time.”
Some have said that his is a victory for the families and friends of the 96 who suffered. A victory for all those who have doggedly fought to unearth the truth and then have it confirmed. Perhaps some feel victory isn’t the right word, it won’t bring back the 96 however, one word certainly fits. Vindication. They, and Liverpool fans in general, are vindicated despite all those who have sought to personally besmirch them, discourage and belittle their attempts to get to this day. The hard work, refusal to be deterred and sheer bloody mindedness to get to this point is an example of what individuals can do if they have the courage of their convictions and are determined enough overcome the establishment. Sadly it is also a refection on the sinister dishonest unhand tricks, abuse of power that those employed at high, senior levels of responsibility will callously resort to in order to cover their arses.
Yesterday was a significant step to the closure everyone needs however, now the truth is out surely justice must follow? An apology is one thing but surely, now the truth is known, there should be follow up? The previous inquest’s verdict of “accidental death” surely does not hold water now? Time for a new one where the verdict must surely be manslaughter? Is there a case for criminal liability? What of those who tried to cover up the facts who for example doctored the police statements, who was responsible for operations, police and emergency services, on the day? What of the attempts to shift the blame on to the Liverpool fans, who authorised the trawling of police criminal records to get something on the victims In short there is still work to do before the families can get closure?
Finally what of The Sun and David Cameron’s apologies? For all the latter’s words yesterday surely future governments must learn from this? Why has it taken twenty three years for everyone to get to this point? Surely processes must be put in place to ensure that things move quicker? The question I’m asking, not necessarily of Cameron but certainly of his predecessors, is how deep does this go? It has taken twenty three years for this to come out and that, to me, suggests a deeper, more organised, widespread network of collusion throughout those years to hold back the truth?
As for The Sun surely it is too little too late? They have had ample opportunity to right the previous wrong yet have waited twenty three years until faced with indisputable truth before attempting to do so. It is a caution that belies the recklessness of their normal reporting and I don’t think they should get their hopes up regarding increased circulation on Merseyside?
Finally for all this it’s easy to forget that we are talking about loss here. The loss of human lives, in many cases young human lives. I was at Hillsborough and in one of central Leppings Lane pens. However, the sadness and anger I feel now is even greater than it was then. I’m older, more mature but, above all, I am now a parent. I now look at the ages of those victims and emotions I feel now are entirely different and deeper to those I felt back in 1989. All I lost at Hillsborough was my watch but the loss of child must be a blow that you can never ever fully recover from and those who have callously put self preservation over the feelings of those who were unlucky enough to experience this on that fateful day, must be bought to account?
As someone said yesterday “today is about truth tomorrow is about justice.”