I mentioned last week that we were edging closer to justice for the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims when the hearing date was fixed for the new inquests. I also mentioned that the QC representing the police had suggested that the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel should not be accepted as such by the Coroner as the panel had an ‘agenda’.
This statement has caused quite a stir.
Mayor Joe Anderson responded –
"The claim made by John Beggs QC is disgusting and his claims are a smear on Bishop James Jones and other members of the Panel.”
He does have a point. The whole idea of having a panel which was to have unrestricted access to all documents, was to enable the country, once and for all, to get answers that have been hidden for 23 years. The idea of having a Bishop in the Chair was to underline its independence. For the police, who have been behind one of the most shameful cover ups in history, to question the reliability of the report is shocking. I can’t see how that will do anything to restore confidence.
I had many comments following last week’s blog, including a number who said that the panel did indeed have an agenda – the truth.
It has also become clear over the last week that the inquests are going to require evidence from hundreds of witnesses who were at the game. This will be very difficult for those who were there and will have to re-live the awful events again. My own firm are acting for families and we have had to put out requests for witnesses in the press and on social media sites. I can fully sympathise with those who are reluctant to come forwards after all these years. This is another side effect of the lost years. But they are coming forwards in numbers – such is the determination to see this through.
I suspect that the hearings will last for months. But if that is the price to pay to get to justice then so be it. The aggressive approach of the police only seems to have made people more determined.