Report On Hillsborough Football Tragedy Reveals Cover-Up, Leads To Apology
British PM David Cameron apologized to the families of the 96 victims of Hillsborough for the "double injustice" they suffered in the wake of Britain's worst sporting disaster, according to Brown & Herbert of the London INDEPENDENT. The Attorney General will now "consider applying to the High Court to re-open the controversial inquests into the deaths," which happened at the '89 FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forrest. The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which has gone through hundreds of thousands of pages of documents over the past two years, concluded that "the crush had been foreseeable" (INDEPENDENT, 9/12). The AP reported Cameron said that evidence contained in 400,000 pages of previously undisclosed papers turned over to the families of the dead on Wednesday "detailed sophisticated attempts by police to turn the blame for the disaster on to the victims and to sully their reputations by insinuating that many were drunken, and had histories of violence or criminality." Cameron said, "New evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice. The injustice of the appalling events, the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth, and the injustice of the denigration of the deceased -- that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths." He continued, "On behalf of the government -- and indeed our country -- I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long." Many legislators in the House of Commons "gasped audibly or wept" as Cameron spoke (AP, 9/12).
DEFLECTING THE BLAME: REUTERS' Peter Griffiths reported that the report sought to blame the Liverpool fans, portraying them as "aggressive, drunk and ticketless and bent on packing into the already crowded stadium." The report's authors read in a statement, "The tragedy should have never happened. There were clear operational failures in response to the disaster, and in its aftermath there were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame onto the fans." The report said that the biggest danger at Hillsborough lay in "the emergency services' poor planning and a stadium that failed to meet minimum safety standards" (REUTERS, 9/12).
THE TRUTH?: In Liverpool, David Bartlett noted that the report also blames White's News Agency for "being the originators of the false press reports" including The Sun's "shameful 'The Truth'" story from April 19, 1989. White's reporting was "based on briefings" from four South Yorkshire police officers (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 9/12). EUROSPORT reported that Hillsborough Families Support Group spokesperson Trevor Hicks threw out journalists from The Sun covering their press conference Wednesday. Sun Editor Kelvin MacKenzie apologized to Hicks for the "incendiary story" headlined as 'The Truth,' which was exposed as incorrect. Hicks called the apology "too little, too late." The Sun has still "not been forgiven by Liverpool fans for the article," which was based on a police source and "accused them of having a role in causing the tragedy and responding to the unfolding events in depraved fashion" (EUROSPORT, 9/12).
LIVERPOOL REACTS: Liverpool FC released a statement on the report which begins, "Over the last 23 years the families who lost loved ones and the survivors of this terrible tragedy have shown immense dignity and resilience in their tireless campaign for justice." It continues, "For 23 years they have campaigned for the full disclosure of documents relating to the disaster and for someone to take responsibility for what happened. Today, following years of inquiries, investigations and setbacks, the Hillsborough Independent Panel has announced its findings in relation to the disaster" (Liverpool).