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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Hillsborough (2) What now?

Yesterday saw the publication of the report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the remarkable statement from the Prime Minister apologising to all of the those who had been affected by the Hillsborough disaster and then been the victims of a shameless attempt by the authorities to blame them.

As the day went on and the dust began to settle we were able to see the full implications of the cover up.

Not only did the South Yorkshire Police feed the press with inaccurate stories which resulted in the infamous Sun headline, they actually trawled through criminal records looking for material with which to smear the victims – even children. It seems that blood alcohol levels were also checked to try and support an argument that fans had been drunk.

All of this was way beyond what many of us expected, and there was a sense of shock throughout most of yesterday.

Now in the slightly colder light of day, what happens next?

Not surprisingly there are calls for criminal prosecutions which have come not only from the families but also from a former Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police –

I think that some criminal action is inevitable after such extensive and damaging behaviour from those we should be able to trust.

But I still think that a fresh Inquest has to come first. We need to get answers to the questions that were not asked at the original inquest. In particular we need to know how many of the 41 who were still alive at 3.15 would have survived if more ambulances had been on the pitch and sooner. In short we need to get all the facts. Then we will know exactly what was covered up. So I hope the Attorney General makes this decision quickly.

Once we know what was covered up when can then take action against those responsible.

A large number of civil actions were brought and settled in the early 1990s. The basis on which they were settled is now in doubt so we could see a cohort of new cases brought against the police and others.

But whatever happens now, it must be done quickly and thoroughly. The families and victims have suffered enough. As a Society we owe it to them to bring them justice and accountability as soon as possible.

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