Tag Archives: Hillsborough

Starmer’s Sun article hasn’t just betrayed Liverpool but the whole Labour movement


This Writer heard yesterday (October 2) that Labour ‘leader’ Keir Starmer had written an editorial for The Sun but I refrained from commenting in the hope that the negative response elsewhere might encourage him to see sense and withdraw the piece.

Well, that was a forlorn hope!

Of course, he had made no commitment not to write for The Sun. Certainly, while campaigning to be party leader in Liverpool, he had said he would not have anything to do with that rag during the course of his leadership campaign. Some of us questioned that caveat at the time.

Having anything to do with The Sun has been taboo for Labour since the Hillsborough tragedy, after which that paper colluded with the Conservatives to publish shocking lies about the event that smeared and insulted the people of Liverpool.

Liverpudlians have shunned the rag for more than 30 years, and Labour has done the same in solidarity with the city that the Conservatives so badly wronged –

– apart from a handful of arrogant right-wingers who thought they knew better.

And now Starmer has joined their number – fatally torpedoing Labour’s chances of election under his leadership.

Possibly the worst insult of all (I haven’t bothered to read the piece; why would anyone?) is that Starmer has apparently repeated his lie that Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to its worst defeat since 1935. In terms of the number of votes cast for the party, that simply isn’t true…

… and it just reinforces the impression we have of a liar who does not deserve our support.

Don’t just take my word about the damage Starmer has done to the Labour Party:

It is particularly telling that Liverpool’s Labour MPs have condemned their ‘leader’ and his silly Tory-wooing antics:

… along with other Labour MPs whose hearts are in the right (rather than the right-wing) place:

Last word? Try this:

If you are a supporter of genuine Labour values, then this man and his hangers-on simply aren’t worth your time.

Spurn him as you would spurn a rabid dog. Shun him in the same way Liverpool shuns The Sun.

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Outrage as Labour MP writes in The Sun. Where is Starmer?

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party has betrayed the people of one of its stronghold cities by allowing one of its shadow ministers to write an article in The Sun, days after the death of a victim of the Hillsborough tragedy that that rag misrepresented so grievously.

And Wes Streeting isn’t even sorry about it (yet). Is it because he’s an out-of-touch Londoner who thinks he’s above the concerns of people in the North?

The Ilford North MP was putting forward the latest part of Starmer’s campaign to turn the clock back to 1997, with a “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” attitude that focused on child poverty. But, as one commenter put it, when has any UK political party claimed to be soft on crime?

On Twitter, he said he had written an article in The Sun:

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves then retweeted the announcement, making it clear that this was a move that had been endorsed – hypocritically, but we’ll come to that – by the Labour Party leadership.

The choice to write for Rupert Murdoch’s far-right hate-rag was highly controversial – and Streeting’s justification for it was risible:

While it may once have been true that Labour-leaning voters read The Sun (most of its readership in the 1980s voted Labour and bought it to get angry at the pro-Tory bias it contained), those days are long gone. Dwindling readership means it is now a loss-making minority-interest hack-rag, written by rabid Tories, for rabid Tories.

Those are the voters Wes Streeting wants to attract to Labour.

Labour can happily do without them – and him. He has made his own political preferences abundantly clear:

And he could not have done this at a worse time.

Remember: The Sun blamed the people of Liverpool for the Hillsborough disaster that killed 96 people, when in fact the responsibility lay with the police. Its editors and publisher (Murdoch) colluded with Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government and the police to push on us a lie that Liverpool fans caused the deaths.

The people of Liverpool have never forgiven Murdoch and his filthy little toilet-paper periodical has been boycotted there ever since. Traditionally, Labour has supported this choice – until now.

That’s a general rule – but it became far more specific this week because Streeting chose to publish his article in the sun only days after the death of Andrew Devine, who became the 97th victim of Hillsborough.

It was an act of phenomenal insensitivity, and arrogance bordering on callousness.

Labour – and left-wing – voices who genuinely seek to represent the people – especially when faced by Establishment lies and corruption – have leapt to condemn Streeting:

Streeting’s monumental insensitivity can possibly be best described by comparing his desire to chum up with the Conservative rag and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s attitude – which was to have nothing to do with it and to seek to reduce the power and influence of its owner:

And what of the current Labour leader?

Remember above, where I mentioned that Labour’s bosses have endorsed Streeting’s article and it is hypocritical? Here’s the reason: in January last year, during a Labour leadership campaign hustings in – guess where? – Liverpool, Starmer attacked The Sun, saying he wouldn’t be giving any interviews to Murdoch’s rag. However…

… did you spot the “get-out” clause in his speech? He said he wouldn’t be giving any interviews to The Sun “during this campaign”. Labour members in Liverpool – and elsewhere – saw it as support for their campaign – “don’t buy The Sun“. They were all mistaken.

He was only saying it for effect.

He was only saying it to dupe them into voting for him.

And now he is actively courting The Sun‘s (dwindling) readership, via Streeting.

I wonder what good he thinks this highly-visible about-turn will do him – especially at a time when a poll of the British public shows that we want him to resign:

On the basis of this disgusting betrayal, Starmer’s departure – and that of Tory suck-up Streeting – can’t come soon enough.

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Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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Hillsborough trial collapses as judge rules there’s no case to answer

Betrayed again: it seems early inquiries into the Hillsborough tragedy were organised in order to deflect criticism of the police while having no legal weight at all.

It seems to me that somebody has been dancing around the law in a very clever way.

Three people accused of perverting the course of justice, with regard to the Hillsborough disaster that killed 96, have been acquitted.

The reason? The statements they prepared – which have been called into question – were provided to a public inquiry chaired by Lord Taylor in 1990 – but it was not a statutory inquiry, therefore not “a court of law”, so there was no “course of public justice” which could be perverted.

In that case, what was the point of having such an inquiry?

Nothing it found can be considered safe.

We have no information on whether the statements by retired Ch Supt Donald Denton, retired Det Ch Insp Alan Foster and former solicitor Peter Metcalf were slanted to minimise blame on South Yorkshire Police.

Without knowing that, we cannot know whether the conclusion of the inquiry – the inquiry, mark you – was accurate or not.

The question therefore arises: why was this not a statutory inquiry? Was a political decision made to run it as it was, in order to avoid possible legal repercussions in the future – like the accusation of perverting justice now?

Some might be hoping that this judgement will close the book on Hillsborough – but it has only given us more reason to demand justice for the 96.

Source: Hillsborough trial: Men acquitted as judge rules no case to answer – BBC News

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Jury fails to reach verdict in trial of David Duckenfield over Hillsborough

David Duckenfield.

A jury in the trial of David Duckenfield has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on whether he was responsible for the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.

The prosecution will now be seeking a re-trial.


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‘Journalists’ whine as Momentum bans ‘The Sun’ from Labour conference fringe event

This is Momentum’s argument for refusing to let The Sun into its ‘The World Transformed’ event – and it is persuasive.

This is what years spent abusing privilege gets people.

Journalists (and I use the word with tongue firmly planted in cheek) from the mass-market news media think they have a right to go where they want and behave as they please. They don’t.

People organising events with limited admission are well within their rights to bar certain people from admission – and Momentum had a very good reason for telling reporters from The Sun to do one.

Here‘s the issue encapsulated by iNews:

“Momentum has banned The Sun newspaper from attending its conference event in a show of “solidarity” with a boycott over its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

“The pro-Corbyn Labour group said journalists from the Sun are not welcome at The World Transformed, its fringe conference event coinciding with the main party conference in Liverpool this weekend.

“In a statement, it said the paper had ‘smeared’ victims of the Hillsborough stadium tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

“And it said it was supporting a long-running boycott of the paper in the city.”

That is correct. Here is Momentum’s statement in full:

And here’s the response from one disgruntled – well, he calls himself a journalist:

Mr Hodges has a history of being incorrect. Look at his recent run-in with Michael Rosen.

Also weighing in with histrionics was Grauniad hack Heather Stewart:

She was dumped back in her box, pretty much tout suite.

The Guardian has taken a strong anti-Labour, anti-Jeremy Corbyn direction in recent years and there is a campaign to force it back towards impartial reporting – or into bankruptcy – by boycotting the publication while it persists in its current behaviour. You can understand why, can’t you?

This is the new status quo – and right-wing MSM hacks need to get used to it: Actions have consequences.

That’s right. And that’s why ‘journalists’ from The Sun are going to get this response from now on:

Any questions, Rupert Murdoch?

If so – too bad. Nobody can be bothered to talk to you or your lackeys.

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Hillsborough families will ‘fight on’ after CPS drops charges against Norman Bettison

Case dismissed: Sir Norman Bettison speaking outside court. He was not exonerated; it seems that there has been so much delay in prosecuting a case against him that one witness died and evidence from another became questionable.

Who can blame the Hillsborough Family Support Group for being incandescent with fury about the way charges against Sir Norman Bettison have been dropped?

Bettison, formerly a Superintendant in South Yorkshire Police, had been charged with four offences of misconduct in public office relating to telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans. Given his role as a senior police officer, the CPS had declared an intent to show that this was misconduct of such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder.

This declaration was made in 2012 – 23 years after the disaster in which 96 people were killed in a crush at Hillsborough while supporting Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

The families of the deceased have spent years demanding answers about Bettison’s involvement for South Yorkshire police, particularly as he went on to become the chief constable at Merseyside in 1998.

Wasn’t that a potential conflict of interest? Have a think about that one.

It has long been believed that a full investigation into the disaster was delayed because of political interference and it could be argued that this delay has served its purpose. Here’s the reason:

The case against Bettison was not dismissed because he was found to be innocent in the light of the evidence. It was dismissed because one of the chief witnesses against him, Mark Ellaby, had died. When the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) visited another key witness – aged no less than 85 – “significant contradictions” emerged in her evidence.

Delaying an investigation into high-profile allegations of wrong-doing is a tactic we all recognise now, I hope. In this case, it has led to the death of one witness, while another has now reached great age and her evidence is no longer reliable.

That is how Norman Bettison has escaped prosecution.

(As a sidebar, This Writer has experience of investigations into police conduct, and I would not trust the IOPC’s verdict on the second witness for a single second. That’s a personal opinion.)

So it comes as no surprise to me that Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said members had “grave concerns about the handling of this case by the CPS”.

She said: “We … can confirm that we will be exercising our right to an independent review under the right to review scheme.

“It is our view that the wrong charge was brought in the first place and we will be using the review process to argue this point strongly. We know how our supporters will feel about this decision and, of course, we all share all of those feelings.”

And she pledged to “fight on” while saying that the families struggle at times to “find the strength to keep going”.

All things considered, this is entirely understandable.

The collapse of the case against Bettison leaves five others facing charges over Hillsborough:

David Duckenfield, the South Yorkshire police chief superintendent in command of the semi-final at Hillsborough, is charged with 95 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Graham Mackrell, the former secretary and safety officer for Sheffield Wednesday, is charged with three breaches of safety legislation; former South Yorkshire police chief superintendent Donald Denton and chief inspector Alan Foster are charged with doing acts tending and intending to pervert the course of justice, as is the force’s former solicitor, Peter Metcalf.

Duckenfield’s trial is due to start in January.

The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped all cri

David Duckenfield, the South Yorkshire police chief superintendent in command of the semi-final at Hillsborough, is charged with 95 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Graham Mackrell, the former secretary and safety officer for Sheffield Wednesday, is charged with three breaches of safety legislation; former South Yorkshire police chief superintendent Donald Denton and chief inspector Alan Foster are charged with doing acts tending and intending to pervert the course of justice, as is the force’s former solicitor, Peter Metcalf.

Duckenfield’s trial, which is listed first, is due to start in January.

minal charges against Sir Norman Bettison relating to his conduct as a South Yorkshire police chief inspector in the force’s response to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Bettison, who was subsequently appointed chief constable of Merseyside and then West Yorkshire police, was charged last June with four counts of misconduct in a public office for statements he allegedly made about Hillsborough and his role, which the CPS claimed were untrue.

Bettison had made an application for the charges to be dismissed, which was due to be heard at Preston crown court on Tuesday, but the CPS barrister, Sarah Whitehouse QC, told the judge, Sir Peter Openshaw, that all four charges against Bettison were being withdrawn and the prosecution discontinued.

Bettison was not charged for his actual conduct or role in the South Yorkshire police’s response to the disaster. Instead, the CPS alleged that Bettison lied about his role in statements he made years later, in 1998 and 2012. Two charges alleged that in late 1998, during his application process for the Merseyside position, Bettison described his Hillsborough role as “peripheral” and told the Merseyside Police Authority he had “never attempted to shift blame on to the shoulders of Liverpool supporters”.

The two further charges related to press releases he issued in September 2012 after the Hillsborough Independent Panel published its report, in which he stated that he had never “besmirched” Liverpool supporters or suggested privately or publicly that they had caused the disaster.

Source: CPS drops all charges against former Hillsborough officer | Football | The Guardian

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Hillsborough families denied access to justice because trial will be too far away

What a great dodge for those who aren’t interested in justice: Hold controversial trials many miles away from the families of the victims and say the rules forbid funding their attendance.

That is what has happened to the families of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster, it seems.

Here’s the report in The Canary:

On Tuesday 15 August, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reportedly told The Liverpool Echo that:

“Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, we are not permitted to fund any other expenses, including attendance at court hearings for non-witnesses.”

The Liverpool Echo article now appears to have been deleted. But the CPS statement suggests that the government will only cover the travel expenses of family witnesses giving evidence at the trial; meaning that hundreds of the victims’ relatives may not be able to attend. And as The Liverpool Echo reported previously, some families could face a 170-mile round trip to see the trials of the five people charged with various offences in relation to the Hillsborough disaster.

Source: The families of the Hillsborough 96 have just been denied justice by the government. Again. | The Canary


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If you thought all the Hillsborough cover-ups had been revealed, this will shock you

Martin Odoni, over at The Critique Archives, provides excellent insight into new evidence that police distorted the inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster.

It comes from a documentary by Peter Marshall on ITV, Hillsborough: Smears, Survivors & The Search For Truth, which provides fresh information rendering the Report of The Hillsborough Independent Panel effectively ‘out-of-date’.

The new documentary provided less focus on the South Yorkshire Police, paid more attention to the misconduct of the West Midlands Police, the much-neglected Hillsborough Justice Campaign was given more recognition than the Hillsborough Families Support Group and there was more of an outlet for traumatised survivors of the Disaster and not only for the bereaved families.

Mr Odoni writes:

The only detail I want to dwell on for now though is the interview with Ray Lewis. He was the referee for the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, and was famously the man who blew the whistle and ordered the players to clear the pitch six minutes into the game when fans spilled over from the overcrowded terrace.

Lewis reveals that he gave a verbal statement to Superintendent Barry Mason of the West Midlands Police after the Disaster. During the statement, he described the crowd outside the stadium on the day of the tragedy as ‘mixed’, by which he meant that he saw Liverpool and Nottingham Forest supporters mingling freely, peacefully and in good spirits.

A quarter of a century later, Lewis finally got to see the type-up of his words, and to his consternation, he found that the word mixed had been substituted with the word pissed. An investigator from the Independent Police Complaints Commission discussed the alteration with Lewis, and apparently concluded that it was probably just a typographical error.

I reckon this is a classic IPCC excuse for being too lazy to investigate. To my mind, the odds on the change-of-words being an error are pretty remote.

Judge for yourself:

[Image: The Critique Archives.]

Mr Odoni admits – as had Mr Lewis – that the handwriting was poor, but it seems clear that the first letter in the word is not a ‘p’.

Also – and he puts it very well:

Is it not just a bit too much of a coincidence that the word the officer chose as a substitute ‘just happened’ to be slang for drunkenness? Of all the possible substitutes the typist could have chosen, and there must be dozens, (s)he ‘just happened’ to choose the one that emphasises the impression of drunk-and-disorderly behaviour, which ‘just happened’ to be the very impression that officers in both West Midlands and South Yorkshire had been trying so very hard to convey.

I agree, and can only echo his concluding sentiment: “Not for the first time when discussing the Hillsborough Disaster, I find myself asking the question, ‘Do the British police really think the public are that stupid?’

Source: Hillsborough: You Think ‘P*ssed’ Was A Typo? Well I Don’t | TheCritique Archives

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Harsh criticism for Miliband’s advisors – and about time too

The right man for the job? Despite what follows, Ed Miliband must take much of the responsibility for the Sun photoshoot cock-up. If he's going to slavishly do whatever his political advisors say then he is a follower, not a leader. He should be thinking very carefully about the right thing to do - not only for his future, but for the future of the nation.

The right man for the job? Despite what follows, Ed Miliband must take much of the responsibility for the Sun photoshoot cock-up. If he’s going to slavishly do whatever his political advisors say then he is a follower, not a leader. He should be thinking very carefully about the right thing to do – not only for his future, but for the future of the nation.

Ed Miliband has lost far too much political ground by making silly schoolboy mistakes, but it is right that he should not take all of the blame.

The Labour leader is surrounded by advisors who should be warning him away from having his photograph taken with a football-promoting copy of The Sun in the week that the Hillsborough inquests were taking place. Instead it seems they egged him on to do it.

That’s completely wrong-headed and suggests that there are people close to Miliband who are working against him. Blairites who want to discredit ‘Red Ed’, perhaps? It would explain why Labour is still coming out – and getting bogged down – with ‘Red Tory’ ideas when it should be pushing a new anti-austerity, anti-privatisation, pro-equality and pro-fairness position.

The party’s former deputy chairman, Tom Watson, wants to see better results or resignations – but he’s being far too charitable to people who are idiots at best, fifth columnists at worst.

“The people around Ed… they’re very powerful political people; they carry a lot of power in the Labour party,” Watson told Radio 5 Live (as reported in The Guardian). If that’s true, then they probably gained that power as part of neoliberal New Labour. Their ideas will be as out-of-date as those of the current Conservative-led Coalition.

Look what Watson said shortly after: “We had a leader of the Labour party who was publicly embarrassed on Thursday because whoever was in charge of press let him go through a process where we had councillors in Merseyside resigning. It was a schoolboy error from someone who doesn’t understand the Labour party.” And yet, by his own admission, these are some of the most powerful people in it!

But you didn’t have to be a powerful political advisor to know what the right decision should have been; a commenter on Facebook pointed it out. Miliband should have declined The Sun‘s invitation and arranged a photo shoot of his own, preferably with a local football team; “Labour supports British football from the grass roots upward.” That would have highlighted, also, the commercialisation (and corruption?) of the game at higher levels.

It’s what I would have suggested.

So here’s a thought: Let’s tell Ed to fire whoever told him a Sun photoshoot would be a good idea and hire me instead. Not only do I know what the score is (more than his current yes-men, for sure), I won’t cost as much, and it’s a job I can do from home – so my activities as a carer won’t be affected.

You think that’s a mistake? Surely not.

How much time do you think it takes to tell a man the difference between a good idea and a duff one?

All you need is the sense to know the difference…

… and the proper political motives.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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