Hillsborough; the end of the beginning.

The Hillsborough Memorial

The Hillsborough Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia) photograph by superbfc

The South Yorkshire Police unlawfully killed 96 people. For 27 years the police, the government, and certain segments of the press denied this fact. For many people, including the survivors and the families of the victims, justice has been served. The Coroner’s Inquiry cleared the fans of causing or contributing to the deaths. For many, justice has been served because they or their loved ones have been cleared. Yet, the search for justice has only begun.

We return to the beginning in the search for justice

With the finding of fact, the UK has arrived at where it started. After the Taylor Report the search for justice should have begun.[1] In that report, the police were blamed, the fans were not to blame. The search for justice has to look beyond the disaster to understand two important strata for justice. If justice is understood as the right ordering of the community, we only have the first level, at the level of the victims. We need to look at the organisational level the culture that created the cover-up by the South Yorkshire Police which involved the media. At the next level, the level of the regime, we have to look at the Government and the Courts failures to render justice or deal effectively with the lie and cover-up by police and media.

One level of justice reveals the other two as incomplete

The challenge is that these levels are abstracted from the disaster’s physical evidence. The truth, and therefore justice, is harder to find within the police level and the government level. They have a structural advantage and incentive to hide or distort the truth. The questions set out below start the process. If the process is not started it cannot be completed. If it is not completed, the community will remain disordered for the inquiry reveal’s the regime’s legitimacy.[2]

At the police and media level

Why has the culture and practice that created the original false story never been investigated?[3]

Why was the story of the drunk fans continued at each stage by SYP even though Taylor Report rejected it?

What evidence is there of a concerted effort by police to influence the coroner or pathologist over the 3:15pm as the cut-off point or the terms of reference?

What is the culture and practice across other forces to revise or sanitize police statements?[4] Has that behaviour continued?

What is the connection between Orgreave, Hillsborough and Rotherham?[5] How is it that a force can be involved in these events and not face a wider investigation at any point into its culture and practices?


What did the then government do once it became aware that fans were not to blame and the police were to blame?

What has been the Home Office relationship with South Yorkshire Police for the last 27 years?[6]

As Lord Justice Stuart-Smith was appointed to provide a suitable response with which the government could dismiss the demand for an inquiry[7] what other reports were handled similarly? Does this put reputation before victims?

What did the government do when it found out the police statements had been doctored?



[1] http://www.contrast.org/hillsborough/history/taylor.shtm Even the Taylor Reports were flawed but they did not avoid the main point which is the police culpability in the disaster. Although not a coroner’s inquiry, any search for justice should have begun with this report.

[2] The search for justice described here is not directly related to or dependent upon the criminal cases that are underway. These cases and their outcomes may point to evidence to answer the question, but they are not designed for that purpose. In many ways, these trials while important will simply be an opportunity to hide the truth and avoid justice.

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2011/oct/17/sun-hillsborough-disaster

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-29694345  To understand the scale and scope of the issue at Hillsborough it is necessary to read the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report on it. http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/report/main-section/part-2/chapter-11/page-4/

[5] http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/shocking-links-between-hillsborough-orgreave-11279764

[6] The deeper question is whether the South Yorkshire Police have escaped scrutiny for having been the force that was used to confront the miners at Orgreave?

[7] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ios-hillsborough-exclusive-revealed-the-critical-role-of-jack-straw-8165990.html


About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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