Tag Archives: Hillsborough

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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Police: ‘To protect and serve’ their own interests?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

When did you lose faith in the British police?

Was it after Plebgate, the subject of a considerable controversy that has resurfaced this week? Was it after Hillsborough? Do you have a personal bad experience with officers whose interpretation of their duty could best be described as “twisted”, if not totally bent?

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says that the row involving whether former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell used offensive language against a policeman who stopped him from riding a bicycle through the gates of Downing Street should have led to disciplinary action for the officer involved, along with others who supported his story.

IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass questioned the “honesty and integrity” of the officers involved and said that West Mercia Police, who investigated the affair, were wrong to say there was no case of misconduct for them to answer.

Now, there is plenty of evidence that this police complaints commission is anything but independent, and that it provides verdicts as required by its superiors – either within the force or politically. But the weight of the evidence that we have seen so far suggests that, in this instance, the conclusion is correct.

The Plebgate affair began less than a month after serious failings were identified in the police handling of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It was revealed – after a 23-year wait – that serious mistakes had been made in the policing of the infamous FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, during which events took place that killed 96 people and injured a further 766.

In addition, post-mortem reports on the deceased were falsified and the police tried to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

These were both events that received national news coverage – but what about the local incidents that take place all around the country?

Sir Hugh Orde, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers said, “130,000 police officers are delivering a good service” – but are they really?

This blog has already mentioned the experiences of several people here in Mid Wales who have had unsatisfactory experiences with the police, including victims of serious physical, psychological and sexual abuse who were told to go back and suffer more of this personal hell by policemen and women who either couldn’t care less or were complicit in the crimes. Years later, attempts to get justice fell on the equally deaf ears of officers who didn’t want to know.

And this week the front paper of my local newspaper (the one I used to edit) carried the headline ‘Hello, hello, what’s going on here then?’ over a story about two local police officers who, while on duty, seemed more interested in having sex than upholding the law.

One was an inspector; the other a (married) constable. The inspector, prior to her promotion, had been instrumental in sending a friend of mine to prison on a particularly unsavoury child sex charge. There was no concrete evidence and the case hinged on the opinion of a doctor that was hotly disputed by other expert testimony. But my friend’s path had crossed this policewoman’s before and she had failed to gain a conviction on the previous occasion. It seems clear that she had not forgotten him.

I have always believed that the jury convicted my friend because its members were worried that he might be guilty – despite the lack of evidence – simply because he had been accused. “There’s no smoke without fire,” as the saying goes. It seems likely now that this conviction reflects the policewoman’s preoccupations with sex, rather than any criminal activity on the part of my friend.

It also seems to be proof of the fear raised by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week – that police have been sending innocent people to jail and letting the guilty go free.

My friend is still inside, by the way. He has maintained his innocence throughout the affair but, having been released on parole and then dragged back to jail for a breach that was more the fault of the authorities for failing to give adequate warning against it, he is now determined to serve his full sentence rather than face the heartbreak of having his freedom stolen with another excuse.

Who can blame him?

Police move on campaigners for “criminal acts against DWP”

Having Mr Bean in the Cabinet – or at least his alter-ego, Rowan Atkinson – might not be as ridiculous as this image suggests. He talked more sense in a 10-minute presentation about free speech than the Department for Work and Pensions has in the last two and a half years.

Some of you may be aware that police invaded the home of a campaigner for Disabled People Against Cuts, living in Cardiff, just before midnight yesterday (October 26).

Apparently she had been accused of “Criminal acts against the Department for Work and Pensions” – being that she has been highlighting the deaths of sick and disabled people following reassessment by Atos and the DWP for Employment and Support Allowance.

No charges were brought against the lady concerned and it is generally considered that this was an act of intimidation.

Since then, I have been informed of three other incidents in which police either visited campaigners at home or stopped them in the street to, in colloquial terms, “put the frighteners on them”. Two were vulnerable women with mental illness, one of whom lives alone.

The forces allegedly involved were South Wales, Dyfed Powys and North Yorkshire Police.

I don’t know what legislation these constables were quoting as the legal grounds for these intrusions. It seems likely it may have been the Public Order Act, section five, which states, “(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”

But this applies only if a person has been the victim – not an organisation like the DWP.

If it is the Public Order Act, then this provides an opportunity to quote Rowan Atkinson’s speech at the ‘Reform Section 5’ Parliamentary reception earlier this month.

Mention of Mr Atkinson may have already invoked, in your mind, the ‘Constable Savage’ sketch from Not The 9 O’Clock News, in which a police officer is berated for arresting the same man on charges of “Walking on the cracks in the pavement”, “Walking around with an offensive wife”, and “Looking at me in a funny way”, amongst others.

If it didn’t, go and watch the speech because he makes free reference to that sketch in it.

“I suspect [I am] highly unlikely to be arrested for whatever laws exist to contain free expression because of the undoubtedly privileged position that is afforded to those of a high public profile,” said Mr Atkinson.

“My concerns are… more for those who are more vulnerable because of their lower profile – like the man arrested in Oxford for calling a police horse ‘gay’.”

He said: “Even for actions that were withdrawn, people were arrested, questioned, taken to court… and then released. That isn’t a law working properly. That is censoriousness of the most intimidating kind, guaranteed to have… a ‘chilling effect’ on free expression and free protest.”

He said: “The reasonable and well-intentioned ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. It is what you might call ‘the new intolerance’ – a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent.

“Underlying prejudices, injustices or resentments are not addressed by arresting people; they are addressed by the issues being aired, argued and dealt with, preferably outside the legal process.”

Hear, hear.

Of course, this all makes the police look even worse than they’ve been made to seem in recent weeks. First the Hillsborough cover-up came out into the open, then the (many) Jimmy Savile cover-ups, and now – yet again – it seems the government is using police services across the country as a tool for political repression.

The ability to rely on an impartial system of law and order underpins the whole of British society. Use of the police in this way erodes confidence in law and order and, therefore, in society itself.

Police intimidation of those who speak out against the injustices of the DWP and its Atos employees is not only an attack on free speech; it is an attack on the entire philosophy on which our society is based.

Bettison’s resignation shows yet again the double standards of our justice system

Why is it permissible to investigate possible misconduct by Sir Norman Bettison after he has retired, but not permissible to investigate misconduct by other retired police officers? Is it because the allegations against him are related to the high-profile Hillsborough tragedy, and nobody will care about YOUR case?

Sir Norman Bettison’s resignation as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police has infuriated me.

You might be surprised at this. You probably think it’s exactly what he should have done after he was accused, in Parliament, of boasting about fabricating stories to blame Liverpool supporters for the Hillsborough disaster, while he was serving with South Yorkshire Police in 1989.

I’m not angry about that. I’m angry because the Independent Police Complaints Commission released a statement after Bettison’s announcement, saying that it will continue to investigate his alleged part in the Hillsborough cover-up. The statement said: “We can, and in this case will, investigate criminal offences and misconduct matters after an officer has retired or resigned.”

This is not what you would get, if you tried to allege misconduct against a retired police officer. Believe me – I know!

That’s why I say this story demonstrates the difference between what happens in a high-publicity case, when a large number of people create a fuss, supported by people who are in the public eye, and what happens when an ordinary person goes to the police with an allegation of misconduct against a retired officer.

If you have read this column before, you will be aware that I have had dealings with the police over allegations by my disabled girlfriend (and her disabled mother) against a man who abused them mentally, physically and sexually. Their complaints to the police, made separately, went uninvestigated and the mother was actually sent back into an abusive environment by officers at her local police station.

When they made a joint complaint a couple of years ago, they wanted misconduct investigations launched into the behaviour of the police officers who had been involved in these incidents (which took place over a 28-year period, starting in the 1970s).

The response was that these investigations could not possibly take place – because many of the officers involved had since retired. In a face-to-face interview with an investigating officer on May 12, 2010, he told us: “Those who have retired don’t come under police conduct rules.”

In other words, any police officer – who may have committed crimes or acts of misconduct, but has since retired – will always get away scot free.

That’s the justice we got.

That’s why the IPCC’s unctuous and hypocritical attempt to ingratiate itself with the public by leaping to the attack on this high-publicity issue fills me with fury. Faced with such flagrant double-standards, the only rational response is disgust.

How can we trust the police over April, after the Savile and Hillsborough cover-ups?

I’m not convinced I trust the police any more – especially when they say they’ve got the right man in the April Jones case.

My reason may surprise you. It all has to do with Jimmy Savile, my own experiences of Dyfed Powys Police, and the Hillsborough Inquiry.

It seems the Savile case has turned up large numbers of people who said they complained that the veteran TV and radio presenter had abused them, but that they were turned away by the authorities. Nobody did anything.

By last Friday evening (October 12), there were 300 leads and 40 alleged victims. Lord Falconer said on the BBC’s Any Questions: “People were obviously complaining about his behaviour and if you complain that you are being abused by somebody in power, whether it be a parent and a child, an older person and a child, a person in authority and somebody who is a fan, and you are told, ‘Just forget it – it never happened’, that makes the thing so much worse.

“The evidence that that happened is pretty overwhelming now… A particular newspaper identified a gentleman who complained about it; he was told that nothing would be done about it. Complaints were made, and they were rejected.

“Once you complain and nothing is done about it, you so undermine trust in the institutions, and we know this from other events that have happened, for example, the attitude that the Roman Catholic Church took to persistent abuse.”

This is the experience of my girlfriend (I call her Mrs Mike in this blog). Her mother got into an unfortunate relationship with an extremely abusive man in the mid-1970s, when Mrs Mike was seven. My girlfriend had to endure 10 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse (of the worst kind) before she was able to get away.

She was not, emotionally speaking, able to make a complaint to the police until four years after that and, from what’s been said above, you should already know what they told her: “There’s no evidence. We’re not going to do anything.”

They did say they would keep her information on file indefinitely, and if anybody else came forward, they would reopen the case. This has turned out to be a lie.

Mrs Mike’s mother remained in that abusive relationship for 28 devastating years. During that time, she made repeated attempts to get away, to report the abuses against her to the police, and to get criminal proceedings started against her abuser. On every single occasion she was told by police officers to go home, and that they were not going to do anything. Every time. They couldn’t say there wasn’t any evidence because these occasions were immediately after incidents of violence or abuse. But they weren’t interested.

Back to Any Questions, which also discussed Hillsborough. As Greg Dyke, a former BBC Director General, put it: “Hillsborough, as we now know, is a massive institutional cover-up… The police behaved… appallingly. They made a mistake which created the thing in the first place… But the cover-up is not acceptable under any circumstances. And then the briefing of the press to blame it on the victims of Hillsborough, and saying they were drunk, and saying they urinated over other people, and stole from them is beyond contempt.”

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said: “The challenge to confidence in public institutions, if there is evidence of systematic cover-up… is very, very damaging.”

Lord Falconer again: “96 people died in a disaster to which the police very substantially contributed. For 23 years the police told lies about what had happened and the families of the 96 who died felt utterly obliged to protect the reputations of those whom they loved, who had died. And this was despite the fact that the police continued in the cover-up, the judges who looked at it failed to spot the cover-up, the other police forces that looked at it failed to spot the cover-up and it took the Bishop of Liverpool and a panel of independent people, utterly separate from the traditional organs of the State who look at these things to uncover the truth.

Those 23 years of pain and suffering should not lead to the situation where people say, ‘It’s too late’ and the families don’t get justice. A family member whose son died in the disaster said, ‘My other children were very young… they grew up during those 23 years and I never noticed them growing up; I don’t know what happened’. Another person, who is a mother, said that she was 42 when her loved ones died. She’s now 65 but she still feels like she’s 42; those 23 years have been lost – and the idea that they should not get justice after 23 years is an utter affront to our society.”

After Mrs Mike’s mother finally escaped, she contacted my girlfriend and they went to the police jointly. They believed that the evidence my girlfriend had provided previously, coupled with the evidence of her mother (who was finally able to talk about it, having got away from her abuser’s controlling influence) could lead to a conviction. And what did the police say?

“We’ve destroyed that file. It’s gone.”

My experience of police investigations into child sexual abuse (and the abuse of adults), is therefore exactly the same as that endured by the Jimmy Savile whistle-blowers – the police didn’t want to know. And, like the police involved in Hillsborough, they covered up the evidence, ensuring that the person responsible for ruining these people’s lives would never face the justice he richly deserves.

The physical and emotional effects of such abuses are so devastating I do not believe it is possible to describe them in a way that another person could understand. You would have to live through them – and I would not wish that on anybody.

What does this have to do with the April Jones case?

The service involved with Mrs Mike’s case – and that of her mother – is Dyfed Powys Police, the same force that has been investigating the kidnapping of April Jones.

Consider the situation with April. She was abducted. Police were informed. Did they work out how far away a kidnapper could have travelled in the time between the last sighting of April and the missing person’s report being made, arrange to block all road routes leading away from Machynlleth and search vehicles on their way out? No. And that’s just the obvious course of action. I wonder what else they didn’t do.

They instead concentrated on searching the land in and around Machynlleth. They arrested a man 18 hours after April went missing. She was not with him. We do not know what evidence was found which led to his arrest. We are led to believe that the suspect was known to police previously.

Under those circumstances, it is easy to question the investigators’ actions. Under pressure to come up with a perpetrator at short notice, did they pick up their list of known felons, find one who (we are told) knew the victim and her family, who had a record, and turn him into their scapegoat?

In the time period under discussion here, that poor little girl could have been spirited out of the UK, right under the noses of the authorities. I do not believe it is reasonable to accept that the police did everything in their power to find her, considering the information we have about what they did.

I will only be prepared to believe Dyfed Powys Police have the right man if, when the case comes to court, he can make a full and frank confession that he kidnapped and murdered April, without any duress having been put upon him by investigating officers.

Otherwise, considering the record of the Dyfed Powys force, I will fear yet another police cover-up.

Will the upcoming election of Police Commissioners lead to increased confidence in a service that is utterly discredited? I wonder…