Hillsborough: The Truth at last
Imagine being a police officer who altered witness statements from an incident where 96 people died as a result of your colleagues’ ineptitude. Imagine doing that and then sitting on that knowledge for 23 years.
Take that a level further, imagine being a senior South Yorkshire police officer in the immediate aftermath of such an event. Would your first reaction be to serve the public, or to go to the most depraved depths to make sure you and your fellow officers weren’t held responsible?
The unpalatable truth from today’s revelations is that those ugly lies about April 15th 1989 – that fans were drunk and violent, ticketless and at least partly responsible for the deaths of 96 of their fellow fans – were not myths and rumours formed in pubs and football grounds, they came from the police themselves.
These grotesque smears, it was revealed today, came from the imagination of police officers who sought to defame the deceased and the survivors to protect their own back.
In Tory MP Irvine Patnick’s recollection of the day of the disaster, he states:
One [police officer] said ‘ I picked up a girl she was dead she was in my arms her blouse
was torn she had no bra on her breasts were exposed when someone shouted
at me “throw her over here we’ll fuck her”‘. It was booze that did it-you speak up
for us tell them in Parliament what happened. ‘
How could a number of police officers think that it was better to invent stories like these, stories which they knew would cause untold misery and suffering to the families of the dead, than to admit they were responsible?
What’s more, how can we be sure that the police officers responsible for this revolting cover-up will be held accountable for their actions? How many of them still serve in the police force?
That’s one of the main things I’ll take away from today’s report. Like most people I feel a mixture of happiness that the truth many have known for years is finally official and those lies have finally been fully discredited; but also a deep sickening feeling now that the true extent of the cover-up is finally revealed and, of course, at the news that 41 people could have been saved.
What I feel is irrelevant though, I can only express admiration, sympathy and solidarity with those who lost family members at Hillsborough and those who survived and then had to restart their lives as the media and fellow football fans labelled them hooligans.
On the day of the disaster John Peel began his show with this song, it’s beautiful but nearly impossible to listen to without a tear in your eye on a day like today.