It’s obviously an important day today, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and one where many of us will be thinking about the still-unbelievable events that unfolded at the Twin Towers, and how the world has been shaped because of it.
Tomorrow, is another important day. It’s when the Hillsborough Independent Panel finally release a report into their studying of the half million documents pertaining to the Hillsborough Disaster, and, hopefully, offer a full disclosure of their contents. Contents that have been deliberately suppressed for 23 years.
We all know there was a cover-up. That’s not conjecture, or biased opinion from Liverpool fans. That’s fact.
It’s not about what football team you support, or even if you like football at all. It’s actually nothing to do with football. This is about a series of horrific failings on the part of the authorities, that could have prevented the deaths of 96 people (and many others, since, who could not carry on). It’s about the blatant and disgraceful cover-up that sought not only to remove blame from those who were culpable but, even more shamefully, to shift it onto dead men, women and children, who could not not defend themselves.
Much has been written about Hillsborough, but for those still unaware of what actually happened that day (you think you know, but do you really…?), or who have taken their ‘truth’ from what they read in the newspapers at the time, I urge you to read the invaluable Hillsborough: Context & Consequences.
This concise, 32-page document summarises events, and details clearly and unequivocally, exactly why the fight for justice was never going to go away, despite several Establishment attempts to do just that.
A fellow moderator on Red And White Kop (RAWK), Kev Howson, wrote this account of the 23-year struggle for justice, which I share with his permission:
On a bright sunny spring morning 23 years ago I, like thousands of others, set off over the Pennines to watch a game of football. It was not any game of football, it was an FA Cup semi-final and my team, Liverpool, were going to win and we would have yet another trip to Wembley to look forward to. At 3.06pm, that game, only six minutes old was stopped.
This is not the story of the disastrous loss of police control, or the unsafe ground that caused the problems in the pens I was in, at the Leppings Lane end of the ground. That story has been excellently covered on RAWK and elsewhere already. This is about what happened next. Within minutes of the game being stopped, a BBC producer was handed a note that was then read out on air. It said that ticketless Liverpool fans had stormed an exit gate and gained entry to the ground.
This was the first lie.
It was soon discredited, but not, as Churchill predicted, before it was already half way around the world. It was the start of a cover-up, and more lies would soon follow; heinous, offensive lies that relied on stereotypes of football fans, the working class and the city of Liverpool. Lies that 96 fans, young and old, male and female, would never be able to defend themselves against.
Luckily, there were plenty of people brave enough and determined enough to take up that fight on their behalf. It is a huge testimony to their determination and character that those people still maintained that fight for twenty years, despite widespread indifference, scorn and accusations of mawkish failure to move on. They continued that fight despite repeated Establishment attempts to derail the campaign for justice, through deliberate misinformation and sham scrutinies and inquests; legal vehicles put in place to give the impression of listening, while having terms of reference designed to obfuscate rather than illuminate.
Then finally, after twenty years, there was a sea-change of opinion, and people at last seemed more receptive to hearing the truth. It seemed like it happened almost overnight, but it didn’t. It was the final fruit of years of tireless campaigning, letter writing, pamphlet and website producing. As a survivor, I salute every single one of you who helped in that, even in the smallest way. It was a magnificent example of how many tiny steps can achieve incredible things.
All of this pressure culminated in the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in January 2010, with the remit of achieving the maximum possible disclosure of all the documents relating to the disaster, and to produce a report based on in-depth research into the documents. Also, to add to public understanding of the tragedy, its circumstances and its aftermath.
The panel releases that report on Wednesday 12th September 2012.
We believe that the report will be released to families at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in the morning, then officially released worldwide at 12pm. As well as the report, all of the 500,000 documents which were reviewed by the panel, will be available online. This is a huge milestone on the long road to justice and, whilst we are delighted that this is happening, we should not expect too much at this stage. It is highly unlikely that the report will immediately bring closure and justice, but we do hope that its release marks the beginning of the end of that fight. The national conscience has, for far too long, been dictated by scurrilous lies and propaganda. The truth has always been out there, but far from universally acknowledged.
With the spotlight of the world’s media very much on Liverpool this week, this is a chance to set the record straight, to confirm irrefutably that the campaign for truth and justice is….justified.
Tomorrow then, will it finally be time for the real truth to emerge? Or are we hoping too much? Will the ignorance of much of the national and international press and public, finally be replaced with acknowledgement, and acceptance, that they’ve been lied to all this time?
We hope so. Because we’ve known ‘The Truth’ all along.