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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Justice for the 96, 25 years on we remember

25 years ago today the 15th of April 1989 FA cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool Fc at hillsborough. One of if not the worst disasters in footballing stadium history took place just after 3:06 the game was a abandoned and only then did the world start to realize what had happened in the liverpool end behind one of the goals. 96 innocent football fans lost their lives on that day tragically and we will never forget them. The idea that this was anything to do with hooliganism or drunken fans is just nonsense and the disgraceful reports by Kelvin Mckenzie and his newspaper at the time the Sun were nothing short of disgusting. To this day, in spite of the massive weight of evidence pointing to a cover-up designed to shift the blame for the 96 deaths from the agencies of the state onto the victims themselves, not a single person culpable in the tragedy has been brought to book. The inquest has been told that police accounts of the Hillsborough disaster were changed by senior officers and lawyers to remove criticism of the police leadership. Margaret Thatcher's statement at the time that the police should emerge blameless revealed the intentions of the establishment. That this stage has been reached is due to the courage and fortitude of the families seeking justice for the 96 who, in spite of being fobbed off, crossing chasms of obstruction, showered with empty promises, refusal by ministers to re-open the case pursued their quest with unremitting courage and determination. A key factor highlighted by coroner Lord Justice Goldring was Chief Superintendent Duckenfield's decision to open the football ground's gates at Leppings Lane which triggered off the catastrophe. Duckenfield's lie that the fans had forced open the gate was repeated by FA chief executive Graham Kelly, and media outlets ran with it before the lie was retracted. Kelly visited the police control room where he was told by Duckenfield that there had been an inrush of fans after they had forced open Gate C. He later admits this to be untrue but by 3.40pm, BBC Radio Two broadcast: "Unconfirmed reports are that a door was broken at the end that was holding Liverpool supporters". Thatcher's chief press secretary Bernard Ingham is later quoted as saying: "I know what I learned on the spot; there would have been no Hillsborough if a mob, clearly tanked up, had not tried to force their way into the ground." These remarks, along with the Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie's vile onslaught, unleashed a Niagara of slander onto the victims and their families. (A 50,000-signature petition protesting the Sun's coverage was delivered to Downing Street by the late Militant [forerunner of the Socialist Party] supporting MP Terry Fields and others from Liverpool). The coroner has now posed questions which if investigated forensically should uncover the facts which have been shrouded in murk for 27 years. For instance what was done to manage the approach of fans to the turnstiles at Leppings Lane? Did a crush outside the entrance develop? If so, could anything, or anything more, have been done to avoid or minimise that risk? If so, by whom? The answer to that last question is the key to shining the light on and proving who bears the responsibility. Such an outcome will be a testimony to the courage of those who suffered and the mass movement of ordinary working people in Liverpool who have never wavered in their determination to achieve justice for the 96. The families are to be applauded for their courage and tenacity in the pursuit of justice. A debt of honour is owed to them for showing that working class people, fired with courage and determination, can render the forces of the state accountable. I am no fan of Liverpool football club being a supporter of Everton but on days like today both clubs in the city of Liverpool will come together and put rivalries to one side and stand shoulder to shoulder with the families of the 96 who will never be forgotten. Justice is still being fought for with a new inquest under way at the moment forcing the families to recount all the old wounds once again. Allot of the blame will have to go on to the police on the day who covered up a disaster for years only recently we have discovered the truth that many police statements on the day were doctored and changed to put the police in a better light. As the old saying goes no justice no peace, those responsible need bringing to account. Until that day which is hopefully sooner rather than later we stand in solidarity with the people of Liverpool in fighting for justice. Justice for The 96

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