An emotional day here in Liverpool. ‘Truth and Justice’ reads the banner that extends the full length of St Georges Hall. It took 27 years. David Conn, who has written extensively on the subject for the Guardian, writes today of the Hillsborough disaster: deadly mistakes and lies that lasted decades, and how at the inquest a picture emerged of a callously negligent police force led by an inexperienced commander whose actions directly led to the deaths of 96 people.

The inquest’s verdict, when it finally arrived, represented the most thorough vindication imaginable for the families of the dead and an equally damning indictment of South Yorkshire Police. The jury supplanted the 1991 verdict with one of unlawful killing, laying blame squarely on the police in the process. Critically, it agreed that Liverpool fans had in no way contributed to the disaster. The families gathered outside the Warrington courtroom and sang You’ll Never Walk Alone before a throng of media.

Finally, after 27 years of horror, heartbreak and struggle, the families have seen a jury deliver the verdict they, their loved ones, and those who suffered and survived but found themselves targets of South Yorkshire police’s ferocious campaign required. The families were people mostly trusting of the police, who after their horrific loss found themselves in a nightmare, fighting the police’s false case and repeated letdowns by the legal system. Derided and denigrated as “animalistic”, they were ultimately driven on by the power of human love and loyalty, and the bonds of family.

The lessons for British policing from this needless devastation of so many lives stretch far beyond the failings of one out-of-his-depth officer who took 26 years to fully confess. The police have a difficult, vital job, to keep society safe. However here, where they failed, their use of the word “animals” documented an inability to see a group of citizens even as people.

Truth and Justice

27 Years is a blog post by Paul Scraton whose father, criminologist Phil Scraton, was a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and headed its research. Paul writes about his own memory of 15th April 1989 when he was nine, and the experience of growing up with a father dedicated to exposing the truth of what happened 27 years ago.

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5 thoughts on “Justice at last for those ‘driven by the power of love and the bonds of family’

  1. Fair enough. But, for all but the victims, their families and the people of Liverpool, Hillsborough played into a national narrative of football fan behaviour established four years earlier at Heysel. On that occasion, some Liverpool fans were ‘animalistic’, causing the death of 39 Italians and 600+ injuries. English clubs were banned from Europe amid national shame. Wrongly, very wrongly as we now know, the Hillsborough disaster was judged to be part of the same piece. And nothing excuses the 27-year cover-up. But amid the finger-pointing, we might spare a thought for 39 Italians twinned in tragedy with the 96

    On 27 April 2016 at 14:14, Thats How The Light Gets In wrote:

    > Gerry posted: “An emotional day here in Liverpool. ‘Truth and Justice’ > reads the banner that extends the full length of St Georges Hall. It took > 27 years. David Conn, who has written extensively on the subject for the > Guardian, writes today of the Hillsborough disaster:” >

    1. It’s right to remember Heysel and the role played there by hooligans claiming to be Liverpool supporters.It was a desperate time in the city’s history – but also, correct me if I’m wrong, a time when hooliganism and the proclamation of fascist loyalties had spread far and wide through English football.The shame of Heysel must always remain – though I think it’s also true that a Belgian inquiry found that there were various other factors which contributed to the carnage (failures in policing (again), neglect and design faults at the stadium, ticket distribution and so on – problems subsequently dealt with Europe-wide.)

      1. Thanks,Tony. I don’t follow football, so I learnt a lot from your web page. I thought it worth reproducing a salient passage that relates to the points raised here:
        Those Liverpool fans identified from video footage as being key to the tragic events at Heysel were brought to justice.

        In September 1987, following an investigation by Merseyside Police, Britain’s biggest ever mass-extradition began with 25 fans transported from Wormwood Scrubs in London to an RAF base in Oxfordshire.

        They were flown to Belgium in a military aircraft and driven to the law courts in central Brussels, where they were questioned and formally remanded by magistrates.

        One man remained in the UK awaiting trial for a separate offence.

        Of the accused, 13 were from Merseyside, one from Bristol, two from Cheshire, two from London, two from Staffordshire, two from Greater Manchester, one from Cumbria, one from Southampton, one from Suffolk and one from Lancashire.

        The youngest of the number was 18, the oldest 29. Their jobs ranged from painter, rail guard and labourer, to miner, electrician, carpenter and greengrocer’s assistant.

        Fourteen of the extradited fans were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter after a five-month trial.

        Seven men were given three-year prison terms and the remainder received three-year suspended sentences.

        Jacques Georges, the Uefa president at the time, and Hans Bangerter, his general secretary, were threatened with imprisonment but given conditional discharges.

        Albert Roosens, the former secretary-general of the Belgian Football Union (BFU), was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for “regrettable negligence” with regard to ticketing. So was gendarme captain Johan Mahieu, who was in charge of policing the stands at Heysel.

        Two days after the 1985 final Uefa announced an indefinite ban on English clubs. It was upheld for five years, with Liverpool serving a sixth as punishment for their supporters’ behaviour.

        Those are the facts.

  2. My modest role in this nightmare was played out in Nottingham.
    I was appointment bred Area Director of Social Services for the area that includes City Ground and Trent Bridge in the previous month.
    My administrator came to see me on the following Tuesday to say that the crowds that had gathered at the gates to tie scarfs and leave other tributes were getting very large. She said that some of them looked haunted and distressed. By Wednesday the problem was huge and we went to see Brian Clough to ask how we could help. He was very keen to get business back to normal, however we did persuade him to lend us a couple of executive boxes. The fans distress had many causes but principally, as Forest fans they had stood at the opposite end booing, thinking fans were rioting. It was the realisation of an unfolding tragedy that made their grief so acute.
    We took these tough (mostly) men up to the executive boxes and using the pitch as an analogue for Hillsborough they were able to say where they were, where Liverpoolfans were and talk through their distress without having to look us in the eye.
    We recorded more than 100 fans coming through until Forest asked us to wind it up.
    My colleague David Witham continued the link with Liverpool for many years

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