Dickens, injustice and Hillsborough

The_Justice_Collective_-_He_Ain't_Heavy,_He's_My_Brother

I’m currently reading The Old Curiosity Shop and, in one of those curious coincidences without which Dickens’ plots would have ground to a halt, I read the following passage shortly after hearing news that the Hillsborough families are one step closer to justice:

Let moralists and philosophers say what they may, it is very questionable whether a guilty man would have felt half as much misery that night, as Kit did, being innocent. The world, being in the constant commission of vast quantities of injustice, is a little too apt to comfort itself with the idea that if the victim of its falsehood and malice have a clear conscience, he cannot fail to be sustained under his trials, and somehow or other to come right at last; ‘in which case,’ say they who have hunted him down, ‘—though we certainly don’t expect it—nobody will be better pleased than we.’ Whereas, the world would do well to reflect, that injustice is in itself, to every generous and properly constituted mind, an injury, of all others the most insufferable, the most torturing, and the most hard to bear; and that many clear consciences have gone to their account elsewhere, and many sound hearts have broken, because of this very reason; the knowledge of their own deserts only aggravating their sufferings, and rendering them the less endurable.

Kit Nubbles was shop boy at the Curiosity Shop owned by Little Nell’s grandfather. He lives at home with his widowed mother, and is an honest, blameless individual wrongly charged with theft by Sampson Brass, ‘an attorney of no good repute’ and ‘one of the greatest scoundrels unhung’.

As for the Hillsborough families: twenty-two years after the original contentious inquest into the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, the verdict of accidental death has been quashed in the high court.  The landmark verdict clears the way for a new inquest into the deaths next year, re-examining the roles of the police and other emergency services, Sheffield council and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, and leading to the possibility of new verdicts of unlawful killing.  This comes on the same day that a new police investigation into the Hillsborough disaster has been announced by the home secretary, opening the way to potential prosecutions of police officers and other officials.

Quashing the original inquest verdicts, Lord Chief Justice Judge (there’s a Dickensian name!) paid tribute to the families of the deceased, stating his admiration and respect for their search for the truth about the causes of the disaster and why and how it occurred. He said the court must ‘simultaneously express our regret that the process has been so unbelievably dispiriting and prolonged': words that echo those of  ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, the Hillsborough single by The Justice Collective which I finally managed to buy today – Liverpool’s shops selling out as fast as they can re-stock.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

The single, featuring artists like Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Mel C among others, was launched on Monday at Liverpool’s HMV store.  Other stars who have contributed to the TJC single include Sir Paul McCartney, Peter Hooton of The Farm, Dave McCabe of The Zutons, John Power from Cast and Gerry Marsden as well as further contributions from Paloma Faith, Eliza Doolittle, Beverley Knight, Mick Jones of The Clash and Paul Heaton from The Beautiful South.

The CD single cover photograph (top) features Beth Garner-Watt, 11, and Mikey Clarke, 7, who went onto the pitch at Everton, hand-in-hand, days after the publication of the damning report from the Hillsborough independent panel that revealed the cover-up that diverted blame for the 96 deaths onto the Liverpool fans.

All the proceeds from the single, which is tipped to reach the Christmas number one, will go to cover the legal costs of the families of the Liverpool supporters killed in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.  Buy it!

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4 thoughts on “Dickens, injustice and Hillsborough

  1. Yes the Hillsborough families suffered a great injustice and were victims themselves of a huge cover-up. It wasnt just the police either, politicians conspired too. What a great irony that the truth should be exposed under a tory government. That supposed party of the people, you know the red one should never be forgiven for their role in refusing a proper enquiry. Jack Straw and Tony Blair, how do you sleep at night?

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