Since the 1989 FA Cup Final “Scousers never buy the Sun” or so the saying goes, and I doubt that will ever change, but at least today the truth of what happened that day in the home ground Sheffield Wednesday have come to light. Over 400,000 documents relating to the tragedy, and subsequent cover-up by the police and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government have been publicly released. What they reveal is nothing short of shocking, but confirms what many Liverpool fans have maintained since that fateful day on the terraces. Poor organization of South Merseyside Police, and the decisions they made related to the movement of fans in the stadium and on its ground led to the crush that killed so many, and their actions afterwards prevented some from being saved. What’s more shocking is the scale of the cover up following the disaster by the police, and senior Tory politicians, who sought to smear Liverpool fans as drunken louts who robbed the dead and dying as they lay on the ground.
In order cover-up their own incompetence and guilt, The Prime Minister said today “that 164 police statements had been amended and 116 negative comments removed and that South Yorkshire Police had been part of a deliberate attempt to smear the dead fans with false claims they were drunk and ticketless on the day of the match.” One such comment came from Bruce Grobelaar, the Liverpool goalkeeper on that day:
“Two minutes into the game, I was aware of a surge behind me. As I looked down into the front of those pens, I could see people pressed up against the mesh. The wire was digging into their faces and people were shouting: ‘Bruce, can you help us, please? We can’t breathe.”
With this in mind is easy to see why the families of those who died, and Liverpool supporters might feel slighted at the gross miscarriage of justice they have suffered in the wake of this tragedy. But what’s worse, and what Mr. Cameron left out of his apology, was the way the disaster was used by the Conservatives and their surrogates in the press to slight a group of people they viewed as an easy scapegoat. These accusations of drunkenness and robbery became so intense that some of the 96 victims had their blood tested for alcohol by the coroner, including one child who was 10 years old. Many papers printed these lies at the time, but they all paled in comparison to the dribble printed in The Sun.
The Truth: some fans picked pockets of victims, some fans urinated on the brave cops, some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.
“Drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims of the Hillsborough soccer disaster, it was revealed last night. Police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon by a hooligan element in the crowd.
“Some thugs rifled the pockets of injured fans as they were stretched out unconscious on the pitch.”
None of these things ever happened, in fact you can see fans carrying away the dead and injured as the police stand by and do nothing in the clip here (Warning: Its pretty graphic) But the real story here, and the one not yet dealt with in the press, is whether or not there was any collusion between the Thatcher government and the police during the cover-up. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Press Secretary Bernard Ingham said immediately following the incident that “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.” Its entirely possible that Mr. Ingham was merely reporting what the Yorkshire police had told him, but they certainly never chose to investigate the findings any further.
Upon subsequent investigating of the disaster by the courts, Thatcherite official made no attempt to correct these inaccuracies that were found to be false by the courts. I’m relatively sure some prosecutions will follow the release of these facts and I’m sure every member of the Kop will agree they are long overdue.
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