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Bernard Ingham and Hillsborough

From Mick Piggott

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Copy of letter to the editor, HB Times

Dear Sir

Following the revelations about the cover-up and conspiracy by the South Yorkshire Police following the Hillsborough disaster, I feel there is still much to be exposed about the criminal activities of the authorities in all this.

According to Fact Sheet Two: Hillsborough and the Taylor Report, from the Football Industry Group (and I quote directly): 'Thatcher's Press Secretary, Bernard Ingham, has frequently repeated the allegations made by the 'Sun'.'

Ingham was of course, very close to Margaret Thatcher before, at the time of, and after the Hillsborough disaster. It now appears to be highly likely that Thatcher, at least, knew that the Sun newspaper and the South Yorkshire Police were collaborating in spreading lies to blame the dead for the mass slaughter that we now, at last, know was the fault, firstly, of the police, and to a lesser extent, of the ambulance service (presumably at the behest of the police).

Unfortunately, Lady Thatcher would now appear to be beyond questioning about her role in this foul conspiracy. Would Sir Bernard be prepared to explain his role in all this subsequent to 15th April, 1989?

Mick Piggott

From David Telford

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

It's not very likely at all. The papers suggest that Mrs Thatcher was frustrated (as more information came out) as she didn't think she was being told the full story, much like the families of the victems.

The comments made in the press were being fed by the police who we now know were covering up for their shortcomings.

The atmosphere and actions of some football fans in the 80's made the reports coming from the police (just hours after the event) to appear quite likely.

Perhaps it should be seen as a positive legacy of Hillsborough and the reaction by Thatcher's government managed to change behaviour of football fans, be that through allseater policy, social engineering or simply that football fans themselves changed.

I went to a football match that day, I was at Highbury, it sold out. I got into the game free as police turned a blind eye to the climbing over the turnstyle, I suppose it was better to have fans in the game than on the street. I hesitated as I went over, there was a fair bit of pushing from behind at that point. There were minor scuffles and a bit of nastiness amongst a minority of supporters. It got a bit warm but nobody was injured because unlike every other ground at the time, there were no fences at Highbury. The fences were put up because of hooliganism, hooliganism caused the deaths at Sheffield that day, not becuase teh fans that day behaved badly but because over the years beforehand, a minority of supporters of every club in the land - that minority were responsible for the deaths.

That doesn't make the police right to cover things up and a minority within the police were also capable of behaving badly and almost encouraging hooliganism. Those who covered up, should be bought to justice.

However, to point the finger at Thatcher would be pushing it, her government played a part in the solution that makes football today a safe and enjoyable (if expensive) sepctator sport.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Perhaps the greatest injustice of Hillsborough and the root of the enduring pain and anguish of the families, survivors, Liverpool supporters and citizens for 23 years was the way in which the victims of criminal negligence – 96 of their sons and daughters, mostly young - were blamed for their own deaths via a series of sickening but enduring lies about Liverpool supporters.

At last, those lies are discredited forever but, more importantly, we all now know what the families, survivors and supporters have known for years - that the lies that deflected blame from those truly responsible were consciously and clinically constructed and disseminated via a conspiracy that involved the highest echelons of politics, state and media (almost certainly including Thatcher herself) in what, as Michael Mansfield QC has agreed, was the greatest cover up in Britain in living memory.

Keighley businessman Trevor Hicks and his wife took their two teenage daughters to the game. Vicky was crushed in the central pen of the Leppings Lane end and taken from the ground by one of only two ambulances that ever made it onto the pitch. She died. Sarah never left the ground. She died. Their parents next saw them together in a temporary morgue at Hillsborough where they were told their children were the property of the South Yorkshire Coroner and were asked by police about their alcohol intake on the day.

Trevor led the call last week for the resignation of Norman Bettison - Chief Constable of West Yorkshire. Bettison, a South Yorkshire Police Chief Inspector, was himself like Trevor a spectator at the game. Despite no significant corroborating evidence from any other spectators Bettison appears to have been been of the initial view, popular amongst his fellow police officers, Tory MPs and Sun editors that Liverpool fans were ticketless, aggressive, and had amongst other things attacked ground stewards (how they found them god only knows).

Chief Inspector Bettison later played a role (a minor and junior one according to him) as part of a unit liaising with the West Midlands Police (a force of course known for its honesty and absence of corruption) in the preparation and presentation of police evidence to Lord Justice Taylor's enquiry (and to the coroner's inquest and the criminal investigation) and in "monitoring" the enquiry itself.

Unfortunately for Bettison and the SYP, Taylor's conclusion, despite the now fully revealed extent of "revision" of police statements, perpetrated by the unit of which Bettison was a member (but which of course he did not take part in or knew anything about) apportioned the greatest part of the blame not to the victims or supporters but the police. Not the required outcome.

Following a number of people (Calvin Mackenzie, Boris Johnson etc) falling over themselves to apologise last week and, facing up to the impact of his own police authority referring him to the IPCC over Hillsborough, Bettison spoke out. Unfortunately, after 23 years, he managed to articulate the view that Liverpool supporters made the policing of Hillsborough "more difficult than it needed to be". Not only entirely and incredibly insensitive to the families (who didn't merit a mention) this was somewhat contradictory for someone who also claimed to have been convinced by Taylor that Liverpool fans were not to blame. Clumsy – and another statement from a police officer about Hillsborough that needed urgent and radical revision.

But how convinced was Bettison by the Taylor enquiry? Not very it would appear. He is reported (by the Telegraph no less) as having peddled his own edited video tape (not of course the one that went missing from the SYP control room after the game) of Liverpool fans at Hillsborough to a meeting of the SYP Police Federation and their Tory MP guest and later to a group of (Tory) MPs in the House of Commons.

The Telegraph reports the words "pitch invasion" and "uncooperative" came into play and that a review of Bettison's presentation (with his own commentary) by the police federation's publicity officer was given the title "The police who dispute Taylor's verdict".

Now we learn, thanks to the independent enquiry, something not known before. Bettison appears to have been a key figure in the instigation of an attempt to prosecute the aforementioned Lord Chief Justice Taylor for comments he allegedly made that may have prejudiced his own enquiry. That attempt was placed in a file for 20 years marked "This will look really bad if anyone sees it". After all it can't be an everyday occurrence that the police consider prosecuting a learned and respected judge. Perhaps Taylor had annoyed them?

Shortly after Hillsborough, Bettison was promoted from Chief Inspector. As Chief Constable his first appointment, sanctioned by Jack Straw, was to lead the policing of Merseyside. Now our very own chief of police he has, of course, earned a knighthood on the way. Sir Norman has, however, nothing to hide.

From David Telford

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Allen, I think there is a little dangerous presumption & misunderstanding in your contribution.

Firstly, I don't think there has ever been blame apportioned to those who actually died, they have always been reported as the innocent victims even in the infamous Sun story. The victims were always seen as the fans who had done the right thing, the one's who arrived in good time, had tickets and were at the front of the pen.

I think you have to be very careful about using words like criminal negligence. The crime that has been highlighted in the report was there was a cover up which included changing witness statements and withdrawing evidence. That will now be investigated further and prosecutions, if applicable will follow.

To say that the deaths of those 96 football supporters was "clinically constructed and disseminated via a conspiracy" involving "the highest echelons of politics, state and media (almost certainly including Thatcher herself)" is not in any report, you should be careful in making such statements. Moreover, making political capital from the deaths of 96 innocent people and that is a rather unpleasant thing to do.

Any negligence which will need to be proved in a court of law and at this stage, the most likely to face this allegation will be the FA, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield City council whom all knew (or should have known) about the lack of safety certificate.

The police made mistakes on the day, the gate was opened to aleviate the crush outside but that hadn't been thought through or communicated very well. Police also failed to react to a disaster situation believing the situation was simply the all too prevalent at the time – crowd disturbance problem. In hindsight these mistakes should never have been made but it's not been suggested in the report that this was criminal negligence. The covering up of these mistakes, however, is the problem.

Most football fans realise that any of us could have been a victim in similar circumstances. A very similar situation happened at Hillsborough in 1981 in the FA Cup semi-final between Spurs & Wolves. Fences had been erected all over the country to contain hooliganism but were death traps. My opinion is that it was an accident waiting to happen. Hooliganism had led to fences and pens, fans reacted to being treated badly and the problem got worse. Margaret Thatcher reacted to horrendous loss of life at the hands of hooligans in Heysel by piloting an ID card scheme. That hadn't been rolled out in time for Hillsborough but the Taylor report showed to her that an ID card scheme was unlikely to work and she took on Justice Taylor's proposals of removing the fencing and terracing and bringing in all seated stadia funded part by government and the clubs themselves.

The justice for the 96 is that football matches are now a safe place to be.

From Allen Keep

Monday, 24 September 2012

I usually try to resist the urge to respond directly to David Telford – partly as I doubt whether anyone else is interested in a dialogue between the two of us – but also because it is generally pointless. But I am going to make an exception in this case as we are talking about Hillsborough.
First Mr.Telford's charge that I said the deaths of the 96 were clinically constructed via a conspiracy involving the state and the media etc. That would be quite a statement and I said no such thing. I said the lies which deflected the responsibility for the deaths from where it truly lay was the result of such a conspiracy – and I stand by that.

Individuals involved in that conspiracy – and there is a long list of suspects - may well face charges and I focused, by way of illustration of the nature of the cover up (and because it seemed relevant to us here in West Yorkshire), on the questions surrounding our chief constable Norman Bettison - who is facing serious allegations over Hillsborough. Bettison has been called on to resign by Trevor Hicks who, I didn't mention, is the President of the Hillsborough Family Support group.
My points were not to Mr. Telford's liking - but then we know which side he supports on this and every other issue (and I don't mean Arsenal). Rather than mince his words Mr. Telford decided, in a typically malevolent and vindictive manner, to accuse me of making political capital from the deaths of the 96.

Perhaps this is reflective of the usual crass assumption that, as I am a socialist, I must be jumping on a bandwagon – without any thought for the families and their distress (even though this was and is my starting point) - hoping my words would spark a revolution. Interesting, Mr. Telford how you have not a word of sympathy for the families yourself. In fact you never actually refer to the bereaved except to deny that their lost ones were blamed for their own deaths (which I will deal with in a minute). Let me fist explain where I am coming from.

I grew up on Merseyside and I have been a Liverpool supporter all my life. Although I wasn't at Hillsborough that day it will remained seared into my consciousness forever. I lost out in the lottery to get a ticket for the 1989 semi final although I had stood in one of the central pens of the Leppings Lane end just a year earlier (which is another story in itself). Gutted not to get a ticket I tuned into the radio as we did then and, as the tragedy unfolded, to the television to see my fellow supporters, later described as hooligans, desperately taking their fallen towards the ambulances which never came on billboards ripped from the side of the ground.

I don't remember much of the next 24 hours, consumed as I was by shock and grief. Luckily, I suppose, I knew no one directly affected - all my friends were from the blue side of the football divide and I followed my team alone. Selfishly, it never occurred to me to ring my father, who I hadn't spoken to for a while, to let him know that I was safe. He, out of his mind with worry, eventually plucked up the courage to ring me after trying to contact the hospitals and the police. After delivering a good telling off his relief took over and he broke down in tears. I didn't feel relief despite, as Dad pointed out, "winning another lottery" - that of life and death.

Had I got a ticket I would once more, I'm sure, been in one of the central pens – my favourite spec behind the goal. But instead I felt only guilt. Then came the terrible pictures of our fans dying in the pens in the press, then the lies of the Sun (amongst many others). Grief and guilt quickly turned to anger as the truth from the surviving fans and the families filtered back to Merseyside.

It's a very trivial story really, a nothing compared to the experience of the bereaved but, like so many others, I have shared the grief and anger of the families ever since and, as is the Liverpool way, stood with them and supported them whenever I could in their pursuit of the truth. That's the context in which I posted.

Your accusation therefore, Mr Telford, disgusts me. I don't expect, or want, an apology. I don't really care what you think. I am simply reminded of the incredible example of how to maintain one's dignity in the face of much, much worse by the families and to stick to the course of justice.

So let me look instead at what else you have to say about Hillsborough.
First the notion that blame has never been apportioned to the victims. It is a view not shared by many - not even the current leader of the conservative party. In his apology on behalf of the country, much welcomed by the families, David Cameron referred to the "denigration of the deceased – that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths". It appears Mr Telford does not share the sentiment of Mr Cameron's apology (perhaps he thinks that he too was simply making political capital?)

Anyone who has read the testimonies of the families or has any sense of empathy or compassion for them will understand that, as I pointed out, their 23 years of torment and anguish was in large part due to the charges laid against Liverpool fans – that they were drunk, uncooperative, aggressive, ticketless – and (my own favourite) somehow conspired to arrive late en masse. As the families have so often pointed out, those charges (now totally disproven by the enquiry) were laid against Liverpool fans indiscriminately. You are wrong Mr Telford, horribly and disrespectfully wrong -there was no caveat by the liars to the effect that only the Liverpool fans who survived behaved in this way.

Similarly, anyone who cares to look at the evidence will see that the way in which family members have referred to how they thought they were visiting the site of a tragic disaster when they arrived at Hillsborough but left feeling they were part of a crime scene - with their loved ones as the accused. Bewildered, shocked and distraught they were, according to the enquiry, subject to "insensitive, intrusive and irrelevant questioning". Every one of the 96 dead, including children, were, in an unprecedented action, tested for their blood alcohol levels and their details fed into the police computer to check for criminal records. Evidence needed to be found to fit the lie that had already begun before the dead were even identified - and that included the victims.

Next, Mr. Telford counsels care in using terms like "criminal negligence" insisting that the report really only highlighted the cover up. Wrong. The enquiry has provided sufficient additional and reliable evidence to render the original inquest verdict (accidental death) unsafe and to surely deliver a fresh inquest. It has also paved the way for charges to be made not just against those who perpetrated the cover up but for those individually and/or collectively responsible for the deaths of 96 innocent fans.

Those representing the families expect to press charges for corporate manslaughter for instance – perhaps Mr Telford prefers that term?
There is no doubt that charges will be made against a number of organisations, as Mr Telford points out – and with good cause. But there will certainly be charges against those curiously missing from Mr. Telford's long list of likely suspects, namely the South Yorkshire Police and/or individuals within it, none of whom have ever been prosecuted.

There's a reason for Mr Telford's omission. He would have us believe that the SYP don't really have much to answer for in their responsibility of the deaths of the 96 (although they were very naughty in covering up their "mistakes") Using language so reminiscent of the cover up he attempts to serve the same discredited purpose - to minimise the culpability of the police. So we hear, after 23 years of lies and after this historic enquiry that delivered the truth the all too familiar ring of phrases like "there was a "failure to react" the inevitable reference to the power of "hindsight" and, regurgitated like vomit, the fantastical notion that the police believed there was a pitch invasion. He describes the cataclysmic decision by Chief Superintendant Duckinfield to open the exit gate C without diverting supporters away from the entrance to the already very dangerously overcrowded central pens (clearly visible from the control position he occupied and captured on video that vanished later the same evening) as "not thought through". He forgets, even with hindsight, to remind us that Duckinfield did however manage to summon up the presence of mind to tell the world that Liverpool supporters had kicked down the gate he opened. He deliberately, or at best ignorantly, fails to highlight the overwhelming evidence of incompetence and negligence which led to the killing (I use this term carefully) of 96 innocent people.

But then Hillsborough, according to Mr Telford was just "an accident waiting to happen" and to the extent it wasn't, was the fault of "hooligans". No different then, despite this historic enquiry, to what the families have been told time and time again. The same conclusions, the same lies, the same attempt to disguise the source of responsibility and to deny the families justice. Thanks.

But there is more. In a perversion of the notion of justice for the 96 that is truly staggering Mr. Telford informs them that their mission has already been accomplished. After all, football grounds are now a safe place to be. They should be grateful, it seems, for the legacy of Hillsborough delivered by none other than Margaret Thatcher. Truly incredible.

The point is Mr. Telford, that Hillsborough should have been a safe place to be and the families owe the government that presided over the killing of their children and the cover up which followed precisely nothing. Their innocent loved ones went to a football match and never came back and those responsible for their deaths and then covered their responsibility have never been brought to book. They will always be losers – justice will be their only source of peace.

Mr. Telford. The families will decide when they have achieved justice, not you. They know that the enquiry and their vindication at last is just another step on a long road. Views like yours, to use Norman Bettison's words, make it just that bit harder than it ought to be.

The truth today. Justice tomorrow.
RIP the 96. YNWA

From Allen Keep

Saturday, 13 October 2012

In my reply to Mr Telford I argued that the Hillsborough enquiry would not only open the door for criminal investigations in relation to the cover up but also in the context of those criminally responsible for the deaths of 96 innocent football fans. I also suggested that such investigations and criminal charges, which may include manslaughter, would most likely focus on the police.

Today's news of investigations and potential charges by the IPCC and the CPS into not only SYP but also the West Midlands Police is another giant step to justice for the 96 and, as the Deputy Chair of the IPCC said, testimony to the determination and resilience of the families which she described as "humbling". One Sir Norman Bettison who announced his retirement recently will be one of those under investigation.

I am confident the next step will be for the Director General to quash the inquest verdict of accidental death.
Justice is coming.

From Mick Piggott

Monday, 15 October 2012

I share with Allen Keep some satisfaction in knowing that those police who were involved in the Hillsborough disaster will be investigated. I do have concerns that the usual 'cover-up' culture could still prevail. On that, time wll tell.

Arguably, the original conspiracy to cover up what really happened was immeasurably strengthened by the actions of the Murdoch press, ie the Sun, with close collaboration from the Thatcher government's press office - at the centre of which was Sir Bernard Ingham. What they all did was spread the foulest lies about the behaviour of the Liverpool fans. What upsets me is that these guilty conspirators may have got clean away with it.

It's galling to realise that demented Thatcher, and her co-conspirator Ingham, and many others including the then-editor of the Sun, may well die with their reputations officially intact. In that one aspect, alone, they bear comparison with the deceased and now reviled Sir Jimmy Savile.

From David Telford

Monday, 15 October 2012

I'm sorry that you have taken such offence Allen, whatever you may have thought, that was not the intention. There is no "accusation" on my part, simply a clarification of the facts and an explanation of the atmosphere surrounding football at the time.

The first and most important point is I'd agree with you, a fresh inquest is inevitable. The 3.15 cut off was at best lazy by the coroner and the verdicts will surely be reviewed.

I'm not an Arsenal supporter by the way, I was at Highbury to see a rather hapless Newcastle United take great strides towards relegation and the away section was absolutely packed. The reason for giving my account of that day was to make the point that any football fan of the time must have had the feeling, despite not being a believer as such, there but for the grace of God go I. I admit, On hearing the news, that empathy was not the first thought and crowded round a radio hoping to hear the results of the day, as news of deaths came through, an Arsenal fan said "…Liverpool again" referring to Heysel, he was just saying what most of us were thinking. The owner of the radio put him & others right, he'd heard more of the report, and something went wrong, too many people were in one pen.

You are right, Hillsborough should have been a safe place to watch a football match but it wasn't. Even with a safety certificate, Hillsborough, like the Dell at Southampton, White Hart Lane in London were grounds that had large fences at the front & to the sides and as a visiting supporter I'd experienced difficult moments – no doubt other fans had experienced the same at other grounds. That is my point. I will correct my statement that is was "an accident waiting to happen" as, given the recent coverage, there is resentment for the word 'accident' I will say it was a tragedy waiting to happen".

You are not being quite fair to misquote me 'was the fault of "hooligans"' – I mentioned hooliganism because that was the culture at the time was tainted by it. It was only a small minority but every club had them and as a result, every football fan was treated as if we were a hooligan ready to explode, the football grounds were designed not like today where sight lines, seating and broad concourses are integral to the safety of the spectator, we were herded into pens so that we could be contained and it was difficult to get from one pen to another and therefore restrict the likelihood that fighting would break out.

The police may have preached safety at their pre-game briefings (which may not even have happened) but the police, like many, would always assume that crowd problems meant hooliganism. The match the previous year had suffered with looting & fighting with a Liverpool fan stabbing another fan outside the ground. The previous visit from Liverpool fans to Sheffield Wednesday was marred by Hoolganism). I include this to suggest that whilst the police were slow to react and slow to realise the seriousness of the problem, I could understand that their first thought was they were dealing with hooliganism rather than a disaster. In 1989, the proposal on the table was the ID card scheme, this was not with safety in mind but to identify hooligans and stop them from getting into grounds.

My impression of reporting of the event had never pointed the finger of blame at those who died. The infamous Sun article did not make such an accusation, neither did the equally wrong Express report. Yes both newspapers made some unfounded accusations but it did not lay the blame with the dead. It's true that Police briefed the press pointing the finger of blame at fans forcing open the gate, late, drunk and ticketless and this was found to be quite wrong. I agree with you, arriving at a football match within ½ an hour of kick off is normal, it's not as if theatre goers take their seats much more than ten minutes before the curtain is raised and it's not unusual to attend a leisure event and have a drink or two beforehand so it's hard to see why this is relevant.

There were huge mistakes on that day, opening of the gate, no direction within the ground to send people to the areas away from the central pen, very slow to realise the problem was not simply crowd disturbance, poor co-ordination of the emergency services. These were grave errors but still errors rather than "clinically constructed and disseminated via a conspiracy" involving "the highest echelons of politics, state and media (almost certainly including Thatcher herself)".

In response to Mick Piggott, I don't think you can make those accusations, you are putting 2 plus 2 together and coming up with 101,001. There is absolutely no evidence to support your accusation that the cover up from the Police was somehow done with the collaboration of Prime Minister Thatcher. They (Bernard Ingham & Prime Minister Thatcher) did not "spread the foulest lies about the behavior of the Liverpool fans".

There is a lot of information available so there is no need to just invent facts to suit your own agenda. On receiving the Taylor report, The Hillsborough Panel Quotes Mrs. Thatcher, the then Prime Minister as describing the defensive South Yorkshire police reports as "close to deceitful" and the behaviour of senior South Yorkshire officers was "depressingly familiar."

My parents both suffered from Alzheimer's and my mother died of vascular dementia, I find it offensive to describe Lady Thatcher as "that demented Thatcher". You may not agree with her policies but I think most people have the class & good grace to highlight political differences without crass comments.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Mr. Telford writes:
"I think most people have the class & good grace to highlight political differences without crass comments". Well, talk about pots and kettles!

Mr. Telford feels it is "unfair" of me to quote his comment to the effect of hooliganism being the cause of the deaths at Hillsborough - so let's just remind ourselves of exactly what he said

"The fences were put up because of hooliganism, hooliganism caused the deaths at Sheffield that day, not becuase teh fans that day behaved badly but because over the years beforehand, a minority of supporters of every club in the land - that minority were responsible for the deaths."

The statement isn't entirely coherent but I think the view is pretty clear (and one which Mr.Telford continues to hold despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary) - football fans and not the police were to blame.

Not an inch of retraction from Mr Telford has followed (apart from a begrudging acceptance that this was not an "accident" waiting to happen but a "tragedy" waiting to happen – different words just as crass) Still not a word of sympathy for the bereaved, still refusing to accept the media blamed the victims for their own deaths, still arguing the police made mistakes (now, admittedly, upgraded to "grave errors") rather than that they were criminally negligent – and still maliciously misquoting me to the effect that I said the deaths were a result of a conspiracy rather than the cover up which followed.

Nothing new then but I suppose there are none so blind as those who will not see.

But wait. Mr. Telford offers us a valuable insight into why, despite there being no hooliganism on the day the police "understandably" thought that this is what they were reacting to (why this would make them slow to react escapes me).

The reason is not, of course, that their response was based on prejudice towards football fans and Liverpool fans in particular and a corresponding mind set that could only see crowds in terms of hooligans rather than people to be managed safely. No. Their response was apparently based on the experience of the corresponding game the year before which Mr. Telford helpfully sums up for us thus; "The match the previous year had suffered with looting & fighting with a Liverpool fan stabbing another fan outside the ground"

This statement reminds me very much of the ones doctored by the police - designed to present a certain image of Liverpool fans and with the same aim, to deflect blame from the police. And doctored it has been. Even the evidence Mr.Telford cites for this statement (Superintendant Roger Marshall's statement after the disaster) doesn't mention a stabbing outside the ground or that it was by a Liverpool fan but Mr.Telford feels fit to add these details on. I wonder why?

Mr. Telford, I would welcome any evidence or report you can find that suggests a Liverpool fan stabbed another fan outside the ground or any other suggestion/report/claim that the 1988 game was marred by significant crowd disturbance (other than individual police officer statements made after the tragedy).

In fact, the Taylor enquiry made no mention of major trouble in 1988 and neither have even the SYP claimed there was, nor has it ever been reported that there was a siginificant issue at the game to my knowledge.
The independent enquiry argued that 1988 passed largely "without incident" in terms of crowd trouble but it did point to something significant about 1988 – there was (as there had been in 1987 when the kick off was delayed) issues of crowd management and crushing in the central pens in the Leppings Lane end, something I have experience of myself.

The independent enquiry establishes that the police, in 1988, closed the gates to the tunnel leading to pens 3 and 4 and directed supporters to the side pens. One of the major issues the enquiry highlights is the failure of senior police to follow the same procedure a year later. This negligence is likely to be a major focus of the evidence to a fresh inquest (as well as, thankfully and at last evidence of events after the 3.15 cut off so crassly described by Mr. Telford as "lazy" on the coroner's part) which is now certain to follow after the decision of the attorney general to quash the previous ludicrous corrupt and unjust verdict of accidental death. This evidence of the police negligently failing to learn from previous warnings and events will almost certainly be a major element of prosecution evidence when future charges of criminal negligence or corporate manslaughter are brought as they inevitably and rightly will.

It is interesting by the way that Mr. Telford should quote the evidence of Roger Marshall in his attempt to slur, once again, Liverpool fans. Whatever Marshall said after the event he, as senior officer responsible for the turnstile and concourse areas at Leppings lane was more aware than most that the initial crush outside the ground which led to the gates being opened (on Marshall's repeated request) had nothing to do with hooliganism and there is no evidence he reported that's what he was responding to at the time. It seems unlikely that even if he thought he was responding to crowd trouble i.e. fans storming the gates as was claimed by police afterwards he would have responded by opening them.
The crush developing inside the ground which resulted from opening the gates also bore no resemblance whatsoever to a pitch invasion or fighting amongst supporters (as police immediately realised when they were called to the Leppings Lane end).Again, there is no report of officers on the pitch reporting to control that they were facing fighting or invasion.

So who did think there was an issue of hooliganism? It appears, from what we know, that only CS Duckenfield, the commanding officer who, armed with the best and closest view in the ground and who had observed the central pens over-filling for some considerable time without taking any action reached this view when a small number of fans managed to escape onto the pitch shortly after kick off. Who knows why he "thought" this was a pitch invasion or why he then claimed that fans kicked open the gate he ordered open (Mr. Telford may be able to understand it but I can't). Police were then directed from Duckenfield down on the basis that there was a pitch invasion/fighting with a number of consequences - not least the blocking of ambulances taking to the pitch. A number of officers realised immediately they were facing a disaster and not hooliganism and responded accordingly without leadership or direction, not of course reflected in their doctored statements, with many suffering trauma themselves as a result (resulting in very significant compensation payments by the way and exceeding anything the families have received).

I see today the even Sir Norman Bettison has given up the ghost on this one. Perhaps, Mr. Telford, you really ought to do the same.


From Viv Boardman

Monday, 29 October 2012

Like Mick Piggott, I wrote to the Bridge Times in September. I asked if they were going to sack Bernard Ingham as a columnist after his disgusting attempts to smear Liverpool fans came to light. I got no response from the editor, just as Mick got no answer from Ingham.
Since then reports have come out about SYP's role at Orgreave, with falsified police notes, leading to miners, who were fighting to save their jobs, being charged with riot. All were acquitted. No police were charged with perjury. Once again Bernard Ingham, from his powerful position, briefed the press about the miners being "the enemy within".
I have not seen a column by him. Has he been quietly dropped by the Bridge Times? That's not good enough. This odious man should apologise, and hand back his knighthood.

From Dave Boardman

Friday, 2 November 2012

I see Ingham has been allowed his 'eye view' in the Hebden Bridge Times - with no reference to his role in the Hillsborough cover up - even though he's quoted in the Independent Hillsborough Report as saying there 'would have been no Hillsborough if a mob, who were clearly tanked up, had not tried to force their way into the ground': ie the establishment lie about Hillsborough

He blamed miners for the trouble at Orgreave too. He is part of the establishment lie machine.

I'd also like his views on Tom Watson's allegations about a paedophile ring operating at No 10 where he was press officer for many years. Without him telling the truth about these issues why would any newspaper want to publish any words of his

From Jean Williams

Saturday, 3 November 2012

I totally agree with Viv and Dave Boardman's comments on Bernard Ingham. This man obviously thinks he is above the law, but I feel the fact that he is disinclined to answer any questions about Hillsborough means he has something to hide. I hope he will be investigated along with everyone else involved in this terrible tragedy. As Thatcher's press secretary at the time, he cannot be without blame. I would like to see his next column in the HBT address some of the issues that have been raised, but I don't hold out much hope of this.

From David Telford

Monday, 5 November 2012

Allen, you appear to have completely misunderstood my point but I'll take you at face value and try and clarify my point . Let's be clear with a few points:

I am not suggesting that hooliganism by Liverpool fans on the day caused the disaster.

I entirely agree that the cover up by the police was wrong.

Mistakes were made by the police on the day, these mistakes caused the disaster.

I agree that the emergency services were not very well organized on the day

I will however, not accept the assertion that this was somehow a plot made in Downing street cooked up by the Prime minister and Bernard Ingham. There is no evidence to support this assertion and all the evidence suggests they were also misled.

The point I make that you have difficulty understanding is that whilst hooliganism did not directly lead to the deaths of those football supporters that day, the prevalence of hooliganism at the time led to the design of the stadium and attitudes of police and supporters alike. These factors caused the deaths.

You quote me correctly and then appear to be unable to comprehend what the sentence is saying. I said "The fences were put up because of hooliganism, hooliganism caused the deaths at Sheffield that day,[b] not because the fans that day behaved badly[b] but because over the years beforehand, a minority of supporters of every club in the land - that minority were responsible for the deaths."

What I am saying is that hooliganism surrounding football matches was a problem throughout the 80's. Every football club had a minority of followers from whom the match meant a day of fighting, causing damage and mayhem. I'm not picking on Liverpool fans but a it can hardly be forgotten that around 100-200 Liverpool fans were responsible for the deaths of 39 fans just 4 years earlier. My own club had it's fair share of aggressive hooligans, earlier in the 1988/89 season at Liverpool, my team scored a rare win and on leaving the ground fighting was breaking out in streets down the hill from Anfield – as a lad who was attending the game with a neutral and a Liverpool fan, it was quite horrible. Ironically, the government's response to the atrocity at Heysel (the proposed ID card scheme) led to a certain amount of concurrence amongst the more sensible of football fans where fanzines took up a common campaign against ID cards and there was a small but noticeable improvement in attitudes in the late 1980s.

My point remains, it was this constant threat of hooliganism that meant that football grounds were not designed with the emphasis on safety, sight lines to the playing area etc etc but they were designed to keep supporters contained in areas to avoid fighting. The police were not attending to help with safety in mind but to there to deal with fighting and hooliganism. The reason for this was seen as justified, as a keen football fan myself, I can confirm that amongst us were some horrible thugs who deserved to be caged like animals and give up the freedoms that we should take for granted but because of that, may 'good' football fans were treated badly.

Allen, you even accept the point yourself, you say that "their [the police] response was based on prejudice towards football fans and Liverpool fans in particular and a corresponding mind set that could only see crowds in terms of hooligans rather than people to be managed safely." I don't think it was Liverpool fans in particular, some Liverpool fans were responsible for Heysel but I don't think the attitudes were exclusive to Liverpool fans. Surely you can understand that the police had this attitude because some fans who followed football were thugs and entirely deserved to be treaded badly, but it meant the rest of us suffered too.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

It's Mr. Keep to you if you don't mind.

You are not picking on Liverpool fans – you just thought you would add Heysel and Liverpool fans fighting after the Arsenal game (I seem to remember we played Arsenal at home after Hillsborough by the way?) to the equation. Their particular relevance? Your point being?

No news on Liverpool fans' behaviour in 1988 (which might be relevant) yet?

You are saying there was considerable football hooliganism in the 80s? Shock news.

It's ok then to disregard safety when designing stadiums then? Perhaps it is of no consequence that Hillsborough didn't have a safety certificate as long as it had pens. No problem with gates narrower than the suggested dimensions (by the way) and that could only be opened, even when officers could see supporters dying in front of their eyes, with the direct orders of senior police who didn't appear to notice?

Oh, but the police had no responsibility for safety?! – that's fine then.

Of course I accept the point that the police response was based on prejudice towards football fans and Liverpool ones in particular. Unlike you Mr. Telford I don't accept that was right - or share in that prejudice as you clearly do.

And could you at least be consistent? Was it hooliganism that killed the fans or the "mistakes" of the police – you cite both. I know which it was – and the independent enquiry proves it beyond doubt.

From David Telford

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Al, I'm trying not to turn a debate into a slanging match but either you are not reading my posts, selective in what you are reading or (quite possibly)I'm not clear enough in what I am saying. Again, I'll take you at face value and assume the latter and address your points.

Firstly, and this is a matter of great pride, I've already said that I'm a Newcastle United supporter not an Arsenal supporter. Newcastle played at Arsenal on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, it was a big game for both sides, Arsenal were about to win the most memorable title race until last year and United needed to win at Arsenal to keep their hopes of avoiding the drop in place. Hence, there was a big crowd on the day, the ground was full and as was quite usual, despite being at capacity, the police allowed fans in to avoid large amounts of fans to roam the streets outside. United visited Anfield in the Autumn of 1988 and had a rare win, Mirandinha scored the winner - the trouble I referred to was after that game. The point being was that some football fans were thugs, neither my team's nor Liverpool's were immune from that.

I've already pointed out that the police claim to have had a briefing stressing that "safety was the priority" and I pointed out that that looking at the panel's report there appears to be some doubt if this briefing actually happened. I've said that even if this briefing did take place, given the atmosphere of trouble surrounding football at the time, the police were never viewed as being their for safety reasons and it's unlikley the police viewed themselves as being there to ensure a safe day out for all. Yes, they should have been responsible for safety but their role had lang since morphed into riot control.

As I've said in pretty much every post, we now take for granted that stadiums are designed with safety and comfort in mind, in the 70's / 80's they simply were not. Also, I've sain in my first post, "Any negligence which will need to be proved in a court of law and at this stage, the most likely to face this allegation will be the FA, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield City council whom all knew (or should have known) about the lack of safety certificate."

I think to say "police response was based on prejudice towards football fans and Liverpool ones in particular." is pushing it a little. I say that the police response was based on the atmosphere of hooliganism that surrounded football matches. They'd have seen football fans attempting to scale fences etc a thousand times before and it had been with aggressive intent. Whilst not right, it's not surprising that their first instict when was 'here we go again' rather than the realisation that there was a disaster on their hands. I do think it's chip on the shoulder stuff to think it was Liverpool fans in particular were singled out for bad treatment, Liverpool fans (pre-Heysel) didn't have a particular reputation for being hooligans, they had a reputation for stealing and looting plus they had a reputation for free-riding (getting in free & espcially skilled at riding the trains for nowt) but they were never viewed in the same bracket as the likes of Leeds, Milwall etc - perhaps post Heysel, this changed.

I can assure you big Al, I don't have any prejudices. As for being consistent, I reiterate and quote again in full:

I am not suggesting that hooliganism by Liverpool fans on the day caused the disaster.

I entirely agree that the cover up by the police was wrong.

Mistakes were made by the police on the day, these mistakes led to the disaster.

The emergency services were not very well organized on the day

The message you don't sem to follow is this. The behaviour of some football fans from different clubs in the years before Hillsborough led to:

a) supporters being overly aggressive at football matches.
b) police viewing football fans as potential hooligans
c) fooball grounds having dangerous perimeter fencing to avoid pitch invasions - which made it very difficult to avoid the crushing at Hillsborough.
d) football grounds to be divided into pens enclosed by fences that were difficult to scale, this was to avoid fighting between rival supporters but it also made it very difficult for supporters at Hillsborough to move away from the congested area and aleviate crushing.

For perimeter fencing, my club's fans in particular have blood on their hands because a pitch invasion and fighting during a game in the mid 70's (1974 I think) led to a game being abandoned and replayed. After that point, nearly all grounds bought in perimeter fencing.

From Maureen Brian

Thursday, 8 November 2012

What you don't seem to be addressing, David Telford, despite a prodigious expenditure of words, is the one big and fundamental question.

What caused the South Yorkshire Police and all those who dutifully fell into line behind them to think they would get away with all these "mistakes"? As they very nearly did for 23 years.

Could it possibly be because they had already got away with other mischief? Or because they happily bought into a worldview - of which both Thatcher and Ingham were adherents - in which stadium design was an academic nicety, safety certificates just so much red tape and the senior police officer in charge of an edgy match didn't need to be checked for relevant experience but just have the right insignia on his uniform?

From Allen Keep

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Hooligans, thieves, free-riders – there are a few more stereotyped clichés left with which to describe scousers Mr Telford hasn't dug out yet, (which I can only assume is a familiar attempt to goad and provoke) - but presumably it's only a matter of time.

I'm a bit busy perming my hair and trying on a new shell suit to respond again but here goes.

Let me deal with this gem..

I am not suggesting that hooliganism by Liverpool fans on the day caused the disaster.

Excellent, glad you have caught up after 23 years - there wasn't any. The words in bold however suggest previous hooliganism by Liverpool fans may have somehow caused the disaster. Mr. Telford seems to have abandoned the lie he perpetrated that the 1988 game was characterised by Liverpool hooliganism (perhaps he is still looking for the evidence?). As he acknowledges that Liverpool fans did not have a reputation for hooliganism I suppose it must have been Heysel (seeing as he brought it up and ignoring, obviously, the crowd management, stadium safety and policing issues that Heysel exposed). Heysel caused Hillsborough? – just another variation on a theme really isn't it? – Liverpool fans killed Liverpool fans. Thanks for that.

And then this, oft repeated claim…

Mistakes were made by the police on the day, these mistakes led to the disaster.

Whatever Mr. Telford says in how many different inconsistent and incoherent ways and no matter how many times - the aim is always the same. I understand it perfectly - emphasise as much as possible the role of hooliganism, particularly by Liverpool fans, in the 96 deaths and play down as much as possible the role and responsibility of the police. The same agenda, Mr. Telford style, of the police, the media and the establishment for the last 23 years

The major aim of the independent enquiry, its terms of reference, was to enhance public understanding of the disaster and perhaps, as I think the authors of the report would wish, engendering a process of truth and reconciliation. For the families, the campaign has never been about vengeance but about truth and justice and there lies the motive for pinning the responsibility for the deaths on those culpable – primarily, but not exclusively, the South Yorkshire police.

So let us be finally clear about that the SYP and Hillsborough and the overwhelming evidence of the independent enquiry. The SYP did not intentionally murder 96 innocent people in 1989. There was no conspiracy to do so - and despite repeated and malevolent misquoting by Mr. Telford I never said there was and neither have the families or any justice campaign.

However, in law and according to SYPs own operational order for the game and the commanding officers briefing the SYP had a duty of care, which was, "paramount", towards the supporters and their safety- including exclusive control of the Liverpool fans entering the ground.
From start to finish that duty of care was not exercised and the operation before and on the day was characterised by incompetence and above all negligence. Of course there were "mistakes" - there would be in any operation involving nearly 40% on the entire police force of South Yorkshire.

But this was not an "accident" - now recognised by the quashing of the verdict of accidental death of the 96. Those people died for no other reason than the criminal negligence of senior officers of the force. SYP was responsible for failing to avoid a crush at the turnstiles in the first place. They failed to delay the kick off; they opened gate c but failed to direct supporters safely to their places. They failed to monitor the pens despite every opportunity to do so and they didn't open the gates to allow fans to escape. The fences did not kill the supporters any more than a car kills a pedestrian. Even after the crush on the terraces many, many lives could have been saved as the report also now proves - but the prejudicial mind set of supporters as hooligans, animals, rather than ordinary people coming to watch their team - which all the evidence pointed to - dictated decisions from Dukenfield down that prevented the medical attention they needed.

All of the things the police could have done and had a duty to do to avert the disaster and then save lives were not done. All the elements of the disaster were known and predictable but ignored - that, Mr. Telford, as will surely be proved in court, amounts to the illegal killing by SYP of the 96.

Your attempts to suggest otherwise are merely a reflection of the lies and deceit they have perpetrated for the last 23 years. I hope you are comfortable with that.

Your contributions, Mr. Telford amount to nothing more than a complete disrespect for the reality of what the families of 96 people have gone through and a disregard for what benefit a genuine dialogue about the significance of Hillsborough could have - not just for the bereaved and the survivors (which is really important) but for our society in general -or at least our little but of it here in Hebden and on these pages.

On that basis, I shall not engage with you any further – it is entirely unhelpful and pointless.

I should have known better.

Justice for the 96 RIP

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 11 November 2012

This is all getting silly and out of hand. Allen Keep's argument is now so incoherent and abusive that I can't follow it, but to deal with Maureen's question: the cops got away with it simply because they could.

As David Telford is patiently trying to point out, football supporters were justifiably notorious up and down the land for 'tanked-up mob' behaviour. That made it easy to pin blame on them. Almost everyone, including politicians and the media, accepted the police version of events because it was utterly plausible. A conspiracy by a handful of senior police officers to pervert the course of justice on such a scale would have been unthinkable, which is why it took so long for the truth to come out.

While many inexcusable things can be laid at Thatcher's door, and to a degree Bernard Ingham's, the Hillsborough cover-up is not one of them. Nor, as far as I can see, was any of it David Telford's fault.

From Maureen Brian

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sorry, Graham, but who's this "almost everyone" who accepted the police version and kept on accepting it as more facts became known?

I saw the news footage that evening. You can still find much of it on YouTube but you only need to see once a youngster tossed to safety by the crowd and then tossed back into the pen by a police officer, quite possibly to his death, to begin to wonder.

And a little later you begin to wonder why the entire establishment is trying so hard to discredit the new evidence as it emerges piecemeal over two decades.

I don't claim to know what "everyone" thinks just to ensure that my own assessment has some basis in fact.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Graham, I'm sorry you have been unable to follow my argument. I'd be glad to try and clarify things for you if you would like me to? Similarly, it would be helpful if you would care to substantiate your allegation that I have been abusive.

From David Telford

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Allen, I'm not easily upset so I don't really mind the abusive tone but the name calling, dismissive language and tone doesn't do your argument much good.

What I find frustrating is the part-reading, mis-quoting and mininterpretation of the point I'm making which I'm starting to think is being done on purpose. There is nothing inconsistant in my posts, my first post / reply stated:

"The fences were put up because of hooliganism, hooliganism caused the deaths at Sheffield that day, not becuase the fans that day behaved badly but because over the years beforehand"

I've clarified my point that this view that fans behaved badly in the years beforehand was not exclusive to Liverpool fans, indeed i place the blame for the initial erection of fencing at the door of some fans of my own team, Newcastle United.

As Graham says, initially, it was plausible to everyone that the behaviour of football fans caused the disaster - that was wrong but nevertheless plausable and no-doubt, why the police saught to cover up their own shortcomings by adopting the line they took.

What I am trying to explain, Allen, is that disregarding the cover up (for which there is no argument from me), the police's actions on the day were understandable given what they were used to, the stadium design wrong but understandable given the way spectator safety had morphed in to crowd/riot control.

With regards the "stereotyped clichés", this is where I find it a little frustrating. I'm no fan of glorifying football violence and fooball firms of yesteryear. As a Liverpool fan yourself, you would have been aware of the Annie Road crew and the LFC Urchins, the latter were self-styled as looters and free-riders, who if anything used the confusion caused by violence to steal. The point I was trying to convey was that Liverpool fans had no worse a repuation for violence than followers of other clubs. There were some problems at the 1988 semi final and match between Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool earlier in the season, the links are posted on my original post which again suggests you are being a little selective in your reading.

I echo your sentiments in 96 RIP, le'ts extend that to RIP the 39 for whom, justice has hardly been considered.

@ Maureen Brian, The answer to your question "Could it possibly be because they had already got away with other mischief? Or because they happily bought into a worldview - of which both Thatcher and Ingham were adherents?" is no. Take a look here: there is a lot more information in the report, it's worth a read and may avoid making any wrong assumptions.

I'll be interested to see the evidence of "a youngster tossed to safety by the crowd and then tossed back into the pen by a police officer, quite possibly to his death, to begin to wonder." I've seen a lot of the footage and not seen that. What I have seen is the initial response by the police where thay clearly believe they are dealing just another crowd disturbance and only realise a few minutes later that this was not just another disturbance.

You may have heard the Radio 2 reports of the day, initially the commentator assumes he's witnessing crowd trouble.

Ultimately that is my point, the first reaction of many people was that it was crowd trouble again.


From Allen Keep

Friday, 21 December 2012

Since the HIP report in September which blew the lies about the role of Liverpool fans in the Hillsborough disaster out of the water and righted the malicious denigration of the victims themselves there has been one unifying call for all those who seek a rightful outcome for the familes and survivors - "The truth today. Justice tomorrow".

There will be a few more tomorrows to come, and come they will, but the biggest breakthrough yet was finally achieved yesterday. Words cannot express my joy.

21 years after the outrage of the verdict of accidental death of 96 innocent fans the inquest findings have been officially quashed by the highest court in the land. Never again will those 96 deaths be officially redorded as an accident. New inquests will follow and as a result, at the very least, the familes of half the victims will finally discover in what circumstances their loved ones died -somehting that has been denied them for 23 years. Their pain will continue but at last some sort of closure is in sight.

Many relatives have themselves passed away without that closure on the deaths of their loved ones. Many more are now frail or elderly and they include the incredible Anne Williams who lost her 15 year old son Kevin and has campaigned tirelessly for a proper inquest into his death. This has until now, been denied as he was assumed by the terms of the original inquest and the disgraceful 3.15 cut off for evidence to have already been dead by 3.06 - as were all the victims. Evidence that he was still alive and calling for his mother at 4pm was therefore never heard at the inquest and those medical staff who provided it were pressurised by police to supress or alter their accounts.

Anne left her Hospice to attend the High Court yesterday. She heard the judge refer to the vindication of the familes and that the memory of the dead would now be respected and that the original verdict was unsustainable and had stigmatised the deceased. The judegement also referred to the reprehensible actions of the South Yorkshire Police and pointed the way to the new inquest looking very closely at the failings of those reponsible for the safety of supporters.

There is no doubt in my mind that the new inquest will return a verdict of unlawful killing but we will all have to wait for that next tomorrow. In the meantime, the massive investigation of the IPCC into the conduct of the police on the day and following continues and the DPP is assessing whether criminal charges will be brought. That too, in my opinion, is inevitable.

Finally, the wheels of justice are turning quicker than anyone who has campaigned for justice for the 96 for all these long years could imagine.
Our tomorrows will arrive soon. Justice is coming.