The blame game

I probably won’t be very popular for writing this, but since when did that ever stop me. I’m going to write about the Hillsborough verdict…

15 April 1989. What were you doing on 15 April 1989? Can you remember because I can’t. So can we really expect crystal clear recollections about that fateful day when 96 people died? Especially when you’re required to recount them at an inquest?

The original inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death. Subsequent investigations revealed that the police had been somewhat economical with the truth and the words ‘cover up’ were mentioned. Certainly it seems that they were covering their backsides and there’s no excuse for that. But does it makes the deaths any less misfortune? Nobody set out that day to deliberately kill 96 people.

The officer in charge is clearly traumatised by the events of that day. PTSD has struck him down and he’s very frank about how remorseful he feels that he couldn’t have done better. But we can all be wise after the event. Does that mean he should be prosecuted for his actions? Or should he be pitied for the witch hunt to find somebody to blame?

The culture of the 21st century is very different to that of 1989. We live in a world of ambulance chasing lawyers and the inherited culture of America where nothing is ever an accident and somebody has to be blamed. If we walk down the street and trip over a paving stone then it’s not our fault for not looking where we’re going. It’s the fault of the council for not maintaining the pavement or the poor sod who laid the stone. It’s always somebody else’s fault.

And that’s what I find so unpalatable about the Hillsborough verdict. Even the jury couldn’t agree more a more than 7-2 majority verdict of unlawful killing. Reading the report, there were many factors involved and many lessons to be learnt from that day. And it’s not so much that we have to wheedle out somebody to blame, but the fact that the supporters themselves are exonerated of any part they played.

After all, they were there too. But remember – in 2016, it’s always somebody else’s fault…


10 responses to “The blame game

  1. I completely agree, sympathy for the 96 but the police are not to blame. They are looking for someone to blame it on and unfairly put an innocent man in jail!

  2. Mick Anderson

    For all the understandable satisfaction of the families, nobody has won. An inquest is meant to be an enquiry to find the truth, not a trial of a presumed guilty party.

    The whole inquest has looked very much as though the Police were on trial. I’m absolutely not saying that the jury were prejudiced in any way – they have given up a lot of their lives for this – but in this modern world it’s very easy for individuals to not like the Police.

    If the inquest had been held at the time, when the Police were generally considered with more respect, I can’t help feeling that a different result might have been reached.

    It’s not just evidence and memories that have withered over the decades.

    • An inquest was held and the verdict was misadventure. But it’s a bit like referenda – if you don’t like the result then hold another until you get the result you do want which then becomes irreversible…

  3. It seems to me incontrovertible that ticketless and (to an extent) intoxicated Liverpool fans plus some ticketed fans who were late for the kick-off pushed their way into the ground and into the over-crowded central pen. Yes, the police were incompetent (or were certainly overwhelmed in more ways than one) and yes the emergency services were less than effective. However, on the day, it was those ticketless supporters who should bear the ultimate responsibility for the tragedy. Without the . . er . . over-enthusiastic fans pushing uncontrolled from the back none of this would have occurred. OTOH, I think it’s fair to say this was a tragedy waiting to happen – at Hillsborough or elsewhere.- given the then physical make-up of football stadia and the incipient mob-violence present in football crowds.

    • One of the findings of the inquiry was that there were safety certification issues at the stadium.

      And lets not forget that if football ‘fans’ didn’t behave like animals, then this tragedy wouldn’t have happened because there wouldn’t have been a bloody great steel fence between them and the pitch.

      I was a county level pistol shot. My sport was effectively abolished when some lunatic walked into a Scottish school and shot a load of kids. Perhaps we should take the same heavy handed knee jerk reaction now and ban football? It would certainly make my weekend TV a lot more watchable…

  4. This is Stephen Lawrence all over again. No one set out to kill anyone that day. The police got it wrong with managing the crowds. We’ve know this for nearly two decades, despite attempted cover-ups. But this was never going to go away until a coroner’s court gave the”right” verdict – even if accidental death was the correct verdict the first time around – and it was. It was an accident. Tragic, yes. And the police have some serious navel gazing to do about how they handled it (and, possibly, there should have been criminal proceedings against some officers), but it was an accident.

    • Now the Police Commissioner in Yorkshire has suspended the Yorkshire Force Chief Constable – talk about gesture politics! Also, Henry Winter in the Times, the well-known politico-legal sage – oh no he isn’t, he’s a sports reporter – tries on a mini-smear of Mrs Thatcher. This is all political gold for Labour, the BBC and Oborne in the Mail. Apparently, according to the SJWs and Scallies everywhere, the not very effective cover-up of police incompetence was engineered by Mrs T as a “thank you” to the police for winning the Battle of Orgreave (which is next in line for a multi-million pound inquiry). What’s next – an inquiry into the Peterloo Massacre?

  5. Well a least we are not alone in being more open to “Cock Up” rather than conspiracy over Hillsborough. I remember seeing the images on TV as I walked down Market St in Manchester and thought it was just another Scouser pitch invasion until I got home. One of the things that has been airbrushed out of history was the killing of the Juventus fans at Hysel and the resulting ban on English clubs playing in Europe. In all the years of the quest for “truth” I have never heard a word of regret from the Liverpool fans for this, the victim card is always pulled out and they are never to blame. Now trying to blame the late Mrs Thatcher over Hillsborough is beyond contempt and is approaching parody.

  6. The Police lied, and lied, and lied again. That to me suggests that they are complicit in the deaths of those 96 unfortunates. Add in Rotherham grooming scandal, and we in South Yorkshire have a police force disrespected and tainted.