The fact is known. The police unlawfully killed 96 people. For 27 years the police, the government, and certain segments of the press denied this fact. They are wrong. Are they sorry?
The police mishandled their response to the verdicts. Despite the 2012 apology, the Police continued to defend their approach so the inquiry lasted longer.
The current government’s apology reflects a relief it was not on their watch. The 27 years has given the government a “decent interval” to apologise for someone else’s abuse of power.
What remains are the press who have not apologised for they believe they were duped as well. Their response is couched in the term that they are a victim in this tragedy. They only reported what they were told so why should they be to blamed? The response will be used by journalists and proprietors who seek to distance themselves from what they did. They will want to shape the debate and the event’s memory.
This is the big lie that will be sustained and never stop because it reflects the corrupt relationship between the press, police, and politicians that Hillsborough revealed.
With the finding of fact, we have the end of the beginning. The finding closes one door and opens another. The proprietors and journalists will take advantage of that over the coming days, months, and years to say things like the following.
“We were duped.”
A more sophisticated variant will be arguments that say things like
“We have apologised already.”
These were comments from 2012 when the Hillsborough Inquiry reported and the government authorised a new coroner’s inquiry. Even though it is not the end of the process, the media will want to move on from it.
“We can put this behind us.”
What will be used by the state agencies will be the following refrains.
“Lessons have been learned.”
“Things are different now.”
These statements fail to recognize the error and atone for it. What has to be addressed is attitude that created the incident and the cover-up. There will be no rehabilitation without remorse and no progress without change. Yet, to show remorse would run counter to the nature of the proprietors and journalists. After the judgement, we will hear comments like
“They keep going on about Hillsborough; that was over 27 years ago.”
“One event from so many years ago it was just a rogue event”
The alliance that opposed the Nazis retain a strong belief that Germany cannot be allowed to forget its past. The memory is kept alive not to punish Germany, but to remind us of what can happen when political power becomes corrupted.
If we allow Hillsborough to be forgotten or dismissed then it will hide the corrupt relationship between the police, politicians, and the media. The corrupt relationship cemented the cover-up. The three parts ensured that it took 27 years for the finding of fact. Until the relationship is reformed, we must keep the memory alive.