Hillsborough Heroes and the ‘Silent’ David Cameron

Hillsborough Heroes and the ‘Silent’ David Cameron
April 26, 2016 Bob Pearce

There’s another campaign to fight over Hillsborough – and TTT stalwart Bob Pearce has been fighting it for years.

These are extracts from the series of 20 letters he’s sent to the Prime Minister over the last few years asking him the same question: 

Do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

Hillsborough badgeOn 12/9/12, David Cameron offered a “profound apology” on behalf of the whole country for the “double injustice” experienced by the families of those who died in the Hillsborough tragedy.

I wrote to him on 5/3/13 to point out that there was a third injustice which was still to be addressed: the failure to give recognition to the Hillsborough Heroes; those ordinary man and women who, without leadership or co-ordination of any kind, took action to help fellow fans while the professionals froze.

Last month, on 10/3/16 I wrote for the 20th time. Throughout I have asked one simple question:

Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

I have asked this same simple question 30 times in 20 letters over three years. I have still had no answer.

I have shared evidence from the Hillsborough Inquests of the actions of the Hillsborough Heroes:

Since March we have heard witness after witness at the Hillsborough Inquests in Warrington describe their experiences of that terrible day. We’ve heard from those who described “people screaming for help which didn’t come”. We’ve heard PC Nicol describing the police and ambulance response as chaotic and how “fans were helping me more”. We’ve heard Sergeant Payne tell the inquest that overwhelmingly fans made “heroic efforts” to help.

(Letter 14 – 21st October 2014)

Ms Yates, who was only 20 years old at the time,found herself in the heart of the appalling crush and suffered a near-death experience. Thankfully she survived with no more than a broken arm, and yet despite her own unimaginable trauma and suffering she began helping to carry other injured fans on hoardings.

(Letter 14 – 21st October 2014)

Mr O’Keefe (fireman attending as a spectator) said no one gave him any instruction. He says he saw injured people helping to carry others.

“There’s people lying all over this pitch and there’s a line of police officers right across the middle of the pitch. It was absolute chaos. It beggars belief. I was just amazed at the lack of a major response”.

“What I witnessed was something unbelievable. I just found that these fans, and I’m talking about many, many fans, that started this what I’d call a rescue”.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Nesbit (police chief superintendent) said the fans were fantastic and gave amazing help.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Curry (chief football writer for Daily Express) said

“I’d only seen one ambulance and, you know, it was the fans, largely, who were carrying the victims across the pitch on advertising hoardings, all kinds of things. There was no great evidence of ambulance personnel on the pitch”.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Tissington (police detective sergeant) said there is “no doubt” that fans did a great job in assisting the injured and dying on the day.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Early (ambulance service) confirms he saw fans giving CPR to other fans.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Wells (St Johns ambulance) confirmed that the conduct of the fans who assisted with the rescue was fantastic.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Phillips (doctor attending as a spectator):

“I saw brave young fans trying to save lives. I saw brave lads organise themselves to make makeshift stretchers to carry the dead. I saw some police desperately trying to save lives, I also saw some police standing idly, not knowing what was happening or making any effort to find out”.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Lister (ambulance service) said 264 people were saved by treatment on the day: “The Liverpool fans were magnificent. They helped us all they could to save their mates”.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Washington (police officer) agreed that the behaviour of the Liverpool fans he encountered was magnificent, and that amidst all of this carnage on the pitch there were lots of heroes on the pitch

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

Mr Hollerhead (spectator) says he saw people doing CPR on a casualty, who looked like they knew what they were doing, so went to ask what he could do to help. He says:

“The person said to me ‘Take your pick’, which I still remember to this day, the  very words ‘Take your pick’ and as I glanced behind the goal I could see there were many, many casualties.” Mr Hollerhead confirms he saw 15 or 20 casualties lying on their backs behind the goal area. He says most appeared to be unassisted. He says they should have been placed in the recovery position. Mr Hollerhead says he saw people giving CPR who didn’t seem to have first aid skills so he went to help. He tried to help two victims without success. He then saw another casualty being lifted from the terraces. He checked the young man for vital signs and wasn’t sure if there was a pulse. He gave him some “rescue breaths” and got a response pretty soon. He says the man was then placed in an ambulance. Mr Hollerhead confirms people lying on the pitch were in a highly vulnerable and critical state. He confirms he thought the police officers who were apparently standing around as if to deal with crowd control could be better used to help with first aid.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Moreland (spectator) says he saw police come into the ground from the far end.

“It looked like they were coming to help. There seemed to be about a hundred of them. They marched down the line to the halfway line. Once they got to the halfway line, they turned and walked across the pitch, creating a barrier.”

He says people carrying fans on hoardings had to move around the officers because they didn’t move. He saw two young St John cadets struggling with a man on a stretcher. He says he told them to put the stretcher down and helped them carry him. He took the stretcher. He says: “I said to the two kids to go missing, because there’s things up there you shouldn’t be looking at.” He says he took a number of injured casualties back to the first aid room. He says he heard someone asking for help and he gave a female casualty a fireman’s lift and got her onto the pitch, where he gave her the kiss of life.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Moore (spectator) said after the barrier gave way he saw a large number of bodies lying on top of each other, some of which were dead. He began to check for pulses in the necks of those which were not obviously dead. He had had no first aid training. He gave the kiss of life to 10-12 people. He said they were initially going round people who seemed to be breathing and then took those who were worse to the gym at the other end of the pitch. This included a number of bodies. Mr Moore shouted over to a senior officer in the pen to tell him there were dead people. He is asked if he saw the senior officer doing anything to organise other officers. He said: “He wasn’t doing anything, I couldn’t see him doing anything.” He is now being asked about giving mouth to mouth to the casualties. One of these came round and spoke to Mr Moore.

Mr Simblit (representing some of the families) says: “So even an untrained person was capable of doing something effective and in the case of the man whom you resuscitated probably saving his life?”

Mr Moore says: “Yes”. He confirms the junior police officers were standing around and did not appear to know what to do. He confirms he and a friend had to physically drag two police officers over to help them move a larger fan who needed help. Mr Moore confirms later in the day he and a friend comforted two police officers who were upset about the day’s events.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mark Nightingale, a Sheffield Wednesday apprentice at the semi-final as a ball boy, carried 15-20 dead & injured fans on advertising hoardings.

(Letter 18 – 24th July 2015)

Mr Webster, an officer of 20 years’ service at the time… was overcome with emotion when describing the horror of the day… He said a pile of bodies was blocking the gate in the fence in front of Hillsborough’s Leppings Lane terraces, and “a lad from Liverpool”, whom he never saw again, “pushed with all his might” to enable police to clear bodies and get people out. “He was a hero, an absolute hero. A lot of people didn’t suffer injuries that day because of what he did.”

(Letter 18 – 24th July 2015)

He still would not answer the one simple question: Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

I have shared evidence from the Hillsborough Inquests of the circumstances in which the Hillsborough Heroes acted. 

Mr Hopkins (ambulance service) said the scenes he witnessed were “quite horrendous….like a battlefield.”

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Ensor (solicitor with Liverpool FC) says the scene was “horrifying”. He says fans were trying to get other fans out of the pens.

“People were doing their best to help. People were approaching police officers, asking them to help to release fans from the Leppings Lane end, but there was clearly no one in command, no one who appeared to be in authority”

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Brazener (police service) said:

“It was absolute mayhem at this time, with many police officers standing around apparently not knowing what to do.”

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Edwards (ambulance service) is asked of his impression of the response to the emergency on the pitch.

“It was very clear that there was something very major happening and I’d seen ambulances arrive and senior ambulance officers at one end of the pitch, but where the incident was, there was nobody there at all, other than me. What you also had was the fans who were in and around me were all trying to help. They just needed some kind of organisation and direction.”

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Allen (police service attending as spectator) is describing how police directed him through a tunnel towards Pen 3 at the Leppings Lane end. He said the pressure when he was standing in that location had built up very quickly, and described it as “vice-like”…. and at some point while he was on the terrace he passed out. Mr Allen said at some stage he managed to make it towards the dividing fence between pens 2 and 3. From pen 2, he made his way onto the pitch. When there, he saw a female PC trying to resuscitate a man lying on the ground. Mr Allen went to assist her, doing some chest compression while she did mouth-to-mouth. But he didn’t see any signs of life on the casualty. A man who Mr Allen assumed was a medical professional said “Leave him. He’s dead. Go and help someone else.”

Mr Allen said he saw no evidence of any behaviour by the Liverpool FC fans that caused him any concern. He adds that he has always “deeply resented” the suggestion that his actions as an LFC fan contributed to the chaos. Mr Allen said his recollection of the police performance on the day was that it was “pretty much non-existent” or “shambolic” at the Leppings Lane end, with some exceptions such as the female PC who tried to resuscitate the man lying on the pitch.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Dr Timney (spectator) says it was predominantly other fans who were bringing the casualties. He says some were on advertising hoardings and others were carried between four people. He saw other fans providing CPR and intervened in some cases to ask them to stop so the casualties could be assessed for signs of life. He says he did not receive any instructions for anyone, police or otherwise, about what to do.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Dr Wilson (spectator); at around 3.15pm, he made his way to the service road at the back of the stand, where he began treating casualties.

“Outside the ground I found approximately 20 to 25 people lying on the ground obviously injured, hurt and shocked. No one seemed to be assisting the injured, so I just did what I could. I reassured people and checked their pulses and placed them in the recovery position. I also gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to a couple of people. At this stage, with the help of a police officer, we turned a victim who was semi-conscious and gagging from lying on his back to the recovery position and he improved rapidly.”

He confirmed he was not directed anywhere by police and cannot remember seeing anyone from the ambulance service to ask. “If people could have been organised quicker to assist the injured, it’s possible that so many people wouldn’t have died.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Goddard (police service) says:

“One thing that does remain vividly in my mind is the actions of the police officers, the special constables and the St John Ambulance plus all unknown persons who ferried the dead and injured away from the perimeter track. I feel humble that I could be associated with those persons who performed heroics.”

  1. A couple of points about that. First, the unknown persons about whom you speak there, they are the Liverpool fans, aren’t they?
  2. The fans from all over, yes, absolutely.
  3. Who were put in the difficult position of having to carry unconscious people across a pitch in a desperate search for medical aid?
  4. Yes.
  5. None of those people were being helped or directed from the control box, were they?
  6. No.
  7. None of the people in the control box were implementing any formal emergency plan, were they?
  8. No.
  9. So it is probably right to say, isn’t it, although you might have felt proud at the time of the people who, as it were, got stuck in and did their best, that the position in which they were placed is they had to act essentially off their own bat with very little help and assistance from those in command? Essentially just acted on their own initiative?
  10. Yes.

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Weatherby (representing some of the families) asked Mr Duckenfield (police match commander):

“Apart from seeing Mr Kelly and going to the boardroom and seeing the referee, what was it that you were doing in that emergency response?”

  1. “I was making the necessary plans to make sure there wasn’t a pitch invasion”. He says he wanted to control the area and was directing resources.
  2. “With the exception of allowing access to emergency service vehicles, all of those matters were to do with crowd control and nothing to do with rescue or setting up treatment areas on the pitch or ambulances onto the pitch or setting up any kind of command and control for the police in respect of a rescue and recovery operation for assisting a medical recovery operations either. It was a hopeless response to an emergency, wasn’t it?”
  3. “Yes sir.” He agrees that eventually officers and fans had to take the fences down with their bare hands.

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

I have said to Mr Cameron: In your statement on 12/9/12 you quoted from the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report that ”a swifter, more appropriate, better focused and more properly equipped response had the potential to save more lives”.

Once again, I suggest you ask yourself how high the death toll would have been that afternoon had it not been for the extraordinary actions of these ordinary men and women?

(Letter 3 – 26th March 2013)

I have told Mr Cameron: I have been advised by one of your colleagues that they believe it is “invidious” to compare the heroes of Hillsborough to other examples of ordinary men and women being recognised for their actions in comparable circumstances. For example, in 2008 six people were formally recognised for their heroic actions at the time of the London bombings in 2005.

Given your statement on 12/9/12 that the Hillsborough disaster was “one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century”, I would suggest that it is actually invidious not to compare them. It may help to put aside the label of ‘football fan’, and remember that at Hillsborough these were also simply ordinary men and women that found themselves thrust into the most extraordinary and traumatic circumstances without warning. They too stepped forward and came to the aid of strangers in their hour of need because it was the right thing to do. I’d suggest what makes the actions of those at Hillsborough utterly  unique is that they actually took place despite what you referred to in your statement on 12/9/12 as the “shortcomings” of the police and ambulance services.

(Letter 3 – 26th March 2013)

He still would not answer the one simple question. Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

I have shared evidence which was revealed at the Hillsborough Inquest of the reasons why recognition was not given to the Hillsborough Heroes.

Hillsborough 3

Mr Wilcock (representing some of the families) asked:

“When did South Yorkshire Police start any disciplinary proceedings against Mr Duckenfield for the lie he told to Graham Kelly (head of the FA)?”

Mr Hayes (police deputy chief constable) says it would have been after the inquiry.

Mr Wilcock: “Will you take it from me, South Yorkshire Police never started any proceedings against Mr Duckenfield for that wicked lie?”

Mr Hayes says he will take it from him.

Mr Wilcock: “Isn’t the real reason why you don’t want to admit exactly when you personally became aware that Mr Duckenfield had lied is because you don’t want to explain why you, as head of complaints and discipline, did nothing about it?”

Mr Hayes: “No, that’s not right. The reason is, I can’t remember.”

Mr Wilcock suggests Mr Duckenfield’s lie to the FA was hidden by South Yorkshire Police.

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

Mr Davis (police service) talking about the disaster briefing which took place on April 17th, 1989. He said there were about 20-plus people present, including Norman Bettison. The meeting was addressed by Chief Supt Wain, the district commander at Rotherham at that time. Mr Davis thought it was “slightly odd” that a divisional commander was leading the briefing. Mr Davis said Ch Supt Wain told the meeting:

“We are going to put the blame for this disaster where it belongs: on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans.” He added: “We’re going to now go away and gather the evidence to show this”.

Mr Davis described the way Chief Supt Terry Wain delivered his message to blame drunken, ticketless fans as “strident”, and the start of the South Yorks police “fightback.” It was very early to come to such a decisive, definitive conclusion.” He said he was “more perplexed” by the speed of this conclusion than “outraged”.

Mr Davis said he did not formally share his account of the meeting on April 17th, 1989, before the Hillsborough Independent Panel report on Sept 2012. He said the reason for this was that the culture of South Yorks police meant that anyone who raised problems “became the problem.” Mr Davis said the culture of the organisation (South Yorks police) was such that it wouldn’t even get to the point of being able to learn from any mistakes because they wouldn’t actually be presented. Mr Davis said if he had stuck his head above the parapet at that time he would have had to “walk,” that is, quit, adding “maybe I should have done.”

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Middup, at the time joint branch secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, confirmed that he agreed to contact the Conservative MP Michael Shersby, who advised the federation, to make sure that in a parliamentary debate Shersby “mentioned the drinking of Liverpool football club supporters was contributable [sic] to the tragedy”. Mr Middup repeatedly denied that he acted as the “mouthpiece” of the force to blame supporters.

In a Police Federation meeting four days after the disaster, on 19 April 1989, the minutes record that the South Yorkshire police chief constable, Peter Wright, said: “If anybody should be blamed it should be the drunken, ticketless individuals.”

Middup gave a series of media interviews, including to the Sun and Daily Mail and on television, in which he alleged that Liverpool supporters outside the Leppings Lane terraces had been “tanked up” on drink.

The inquest has heard that at 2.52pm, to relieve congestion outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles, police ordered a large exit gate to be opened, allowing large numbers of supporters in. The incoming fans were not directed away from the central pens of the terrace, and that is where the fatal crush took place.

Mr Middup alleged in his press interviews that fans had come in like a “mob”, and that if police officers had attempted to direct them they would have been “trampled to death”. Terry Munyard, representing three bereaved families, put to Middup that television footage showed that to have been untrue. Middup said he relied on what officers told him and did not check it himself. Middup told the press at the time that the supporters already inside the ground were the ones crushed to death, after the fans outside were allowed through the gate.

“We have seen the press reports after the 16th [April],” Mr Mansfield (representing some of the families) said.

“It’s quite clear from all of those reports that you are in fact blaming fans aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Middup replied, “but not on behalf of the chief constable.” Middup told the inquest on his first day of evidence on Thursday that he never realised that some of those who died – he was told the current finding was 30 of the 96 victims – in fact had been in the crowd outside at 2.52pm, and come in through the opened exit gate.

“They weren’t drunk,” Mansfield said to Middup, “they weren’t ticketless, they weren’t part of a marauding mob and they weren’t late when they turned up.”

“I didn’t know until yesterday,” Middup responded.

Middup who in media interviews immediately after the disaster described some Liverpool supporters as “a mob, tanked up”, confirmed that Wright supported him at a federation meeting on Wednesday 19th April 1989. The minutes, which were displayed on the screens in the converted courtroom in Warrington, recorded:

“The chief constable replied that if anybody should be blamed, it should be the drunken ticketless individuals.” Wright had suggested to junior officers that he could not publicly make the allegations against supporters, but backed Middup to do so:

“Mr Middup stated the chief constable had said the truth could not come from him but had given the secretary a totally free hand and supported him,” the minutes stated. Senior officers “didn’t want to be saying these things.”

Middup told the inquest, because “people would be saying they were trying to shove the blame on to the supporters instead of taking the blame themselves.”

He continued: “So they were more or less quite happy for me to do what I was doing.”

The jury was shown a report in the Daily Mail days after the disaster, in which Middup was quoted saying: “I am sick of hearing how good the crowd were.”

(Letter 16 – 10th March 2015)

Mr Weatherby: “South Yorkshire Police were a public authority, who had been at the centre of a major tragedy. Lord Taylor had been appointed to get to the bottom of that tragedy and stop it happening again. Would you agree with me, as the man managing the submission to the Taylor Inquiry, that it was a serious failure that the submissions did not include the failure to close the tunnel?”

Mr Hayes: “Yes, I find it inconceivable, sitting here now, that that wasn’t part of the submission.”

“Do you agree that South Yorkshire Police should have volunteered the two matters that were crystallising in your mind so soon after the disaster?”

A.”Yes, I think we should have been as frank as possible and as truthful as possible to the inquiry of whatever facts we had firmly established at that time, yes.”

“Why were you, in this meeting in the middle of July, knowing of the serious failures that you have agreed, agreeing to these submissions being made to the public inquiry?”

Mr Hayes says he can’t recall.

“Well the answer is Mr Hayes, that this was part of a cover up. You were ignoring the truth about what had happened. You were misleading the public inquiry. It is right isn’t it, that in preparing for the inquests in particular, officers under your command were trying to raise the profile of evidence which blamed the fans?”

A – “Yes, I think that’s true.”

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

The statement of PC West, an officer who climbed through a hole in a fence to get onto the terrace, is shown. Some passages of this have been crossed out. A sentence about him becoming overcome with emotion has been taken out. Another line which is crossed out said:

“I saw several officers wandering about in a dazed and confused state. Some were crying and some were simply sat on the grass.”

There is a note at the top of the statement written by Mr Foster’s colleague Mr Jones to a field intelligence officer. It says amendments are needed to the last two pages. It says:

“He also states that PCs were sat down crying when the fans were dead and injured.” This shows they were organised and we were not.”

 Mr George (representing some of the families):

“This is a beautiful illustration, isn’t it, of what was going on in this process?” Mr Foster adds: “The impression given in Mr West’s statement would appear that the police were doing nothing, sat about feeling sorry for themselves, perhaps, whilst it was only the fans who were involved in the rescue process. It is a quite obvious attempt to remove from the witness statement something that he regards as being unhelpful to the South Yorkshire case: ‘They, the fans were organised. We were not’. That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it.”

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

Mr Hough (counsel to the Hillsborough inquests) says the jury has heard a number of officers included criticisms of senior officers, some of which were edited out.

Mr Wain (police) accepts they did not seem to find their way into the report.

Mr Hough points out the writer included emotive language like “animals” but no criticisms of senior officers or manpower levels.

Mr Wain agrees that during the emergency response the behaviour of the fans was not of great relevance to the cause of the disaster.

Mr Wilcock: “I am going to suggest that there was a deliberate plan by you and your team to put a half-baked conspiracy theory before Lord Justice Taylor in an effort to blame Liverpool fans for what happened? This was a deliberate plan to smear Liverpool fans in the most half-baked way possible, wasn’t it?”

Mr George:

“You manage to find space in this report for 100 pages of police officers basically bad mouthing Liverpool fans and not a single line about ‘we lost control of the crowd’.”

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

The court is shown a message written on July 12, 1990 – after the inquiry and before the main part of the inquests. This is a memo from Mr Wain to Mr Cleverley (Detective Inspector). It says:

“In preparation for the resumed inquests proceedings, please interrogate the system to show those officers who can give the best evidence concerning:

  1. A) Unruly behaviour by Liverpool fans
  2. B) Non ticket-holders gaining entry
  3. C) Forged tickets used to gain entry
  4. D) Drunkenness by fans
  5. E) Public houses in the area being crowded out
  6. F) Volume of sale of intoxicants general e.g., off licences and supermarkets.”

Mr George: “It looks, doesn’t it, to anyone reading it, as if this is clear evidence of an attempt to denigrate the fans.”

Mr Wain: “I must agree with you.”

Mr George says it is “disgraceful”.

Mr Wain says he is not happy reading it.

Mr Hough: “The suggestion might be made that double standards are being applied in removing the material most obviously critical of the command structure and not that most obviously critical of the fans.”

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

Mr Barry and Mr Ellaby were both studying on a part-time MBA at Sheffield business school in 1989. A fellow member of the course was Norman Bettison, from South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Barry says:”Norman said, I’ve been asked by my senior officers to pull together the South Yorkshire Police evidence for the inquiry and we’re going to try and concoct a story that all of the Liverpool fans were drunk and that we were afraid they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them. I was stunned. I was just staggered. I was shocked.”

Mr Ellaby: “I remember Mr Bettison saying that he’d just been seconded to an internal team in South Yorkshire Police who were tasked with making sure that South Yorkshire Police bore no blame for the Hillsborough disaster and it was all the fault of the drunken Liverpool supporters.”

Mr Ellaby confirms he inferred from the comment that there was a cover up. He says: “I had no understanding until after the independent panel results came out, that there was that big a cover up, and it was that big an issue.”

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

The Sun, however, devoted its front page to the story: ‘THE TRUTH’:

‘Some fans picked pockets of victims; Some fans urinated on the brave cops; Some fans beat up PC giving life kiss’. A ‘high-ranking police officer’ alleged that a dying young woman had been the target of fans’ verbal sexual abuse: ‘fans were just acting like animals. My men faced a double hell – the disaster and the fury of the fans who attacked us.’

Labelled ‘beasts’ or ‘animals’, the imagery was dehumanising and demonising. Their humanity and morality negated, any dreadful act, for example the alleged sexual, verbal abuse directed at a dying young woman, was attributed and believed. Such de-contextualisation, to paraphrase Cohen, neutralises the acts and omissions of those responsible. Thus the condemners – those fans who bore witness and testified – became the condemned.

(Quoted from Phil Scraton article ‘The legacy of Hillsborough: liberating truth, challenging power’

(Letter 18 – 24th July 2015)

Mr Munyard (representing some of the families) asked Mr Wain, Chief Superintendent on the day at Hillsborough:

“Do you accept that, with the bodies still lying in the gymnasium, South Yorkshire Police were already starting to create the narrative that this disaster was in some way caused by drunken Liverpool fans?”

Mr Wain replied “It would appear to be the case, yes”.

Mr George described the actions of South Yorkshire Police as “clear evidence of an attempt to denigrate the fans”.

Mr Wain replied “I must agree with you”.

Mr George continued, “It’s disgraceful isn’t it, that that is the attitude of the South Yorkshire Police?”

“Yes” agreed Mr Wain

(Letter 18 – 24th July 2015)

Even the source of the “wicked lie”, match commander Mr Duckenfield, has now finally acknowledged “Sir, I have no evidence whatsoever of drunken fans.”

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

I have reminded Mr Cameron that the Conservative Prime Minister at the time, Mrs Thatcher, was informed by the police that the disaster was due to ‘drunken fans’. However, upon publication of Lord Taylor’s interim report later that year, Home Secretary Mr Hurd warned her that the contents were “very damning” of the police, and attached “little or no blame” to Liverpool fans. Despite this, it is now known that Mrs Thatcher chose to respond by noting:

“What do we mean by ‘welcoming the broad thrust of the report’? The broad thrust is devastating criticism of the police. Is that for us to welcome? Surely we welcome the thoroughness of the report and its recommendations.”

Mrs Thatcher’s trusted and loyal chief press spokesman for 11 years, Mr Bernard Ingham, expressed the very clear view that:

“There would have been no Hillsborough disaster if tanked-up yobs had not turned up in very large numbers to try to force their way into the ground. I visited Hillsborough the day after the disaster and I know what I learned then.”

You have challenged and corrected the self-serving interests that for many years described Nelson Mandela as part of a ‘typical terrorist organisation’. It is time for you to also challenge and correct the self-serving interests that for many years described the ‘Hillsborough Heroes’ as ‘tanked-up yobs’.

Perhaps you are more familiar with these three simple questions.

After 25 years of negativity, are you so blind that you cannot see?

Are you so deaf that you cannot hear?

Are you so dumb that you cannot speak?

Honour the ‘Hillsborough Heroes’.

(Letter 10 – 4th March 2014)

Mr Cameron, day after day the mountain of evidence continues to reveal both the terrible and tragic failings of those responsible for safety, the heroic actions of fans working desperately to save lives, and the sordid trail of self serving lies perpetrated and perpetuated by police, politicians and press (many of whom have since received knighthoods). Just how high does this mountain of evidence need to become before you finally have no choice but to acknowledge it?

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

He still would not answer the one simple question:

Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

I have asked Mr Cameron to imagine Hillsborough without Mr. Duckenfield’s “wicked lie”.

Just picture what would have happened if the police, politicians, and the press had not colluded with his “wicked lie. Think about how the story of Hillsborough would have been told if they had all told the truth. Like the aftermath of other major disasters, the media reporting of Hillsborough would have included recognition of the extraordinary actions of so many ordinary people, under the most excruciating circumstances imaginable.

Their actions would have been spoken of with great national pride. Over a quarter of a century later history would continue to hold their actions up as an example of what Hillsborough survivor Peter Carney called “one of the greatest acts of spontaneous humanity that this country has ever witnessed”.

In short they would have been recognised for what they truly were – Heroes.

Given the deeply ingrained nature of the myths lies and injustice of Hillsborough that has been established and maintained for more than a quarter of a century in the national consciousness, it has become all the more imperative that the record is not simply corrected, but it is done so in a highly visible, memorable and permanent public act of recognition. Once and for all the myths, lies and injustice must be eradicated by facts, truth and justice.

(Letter 18 – 24th July 2015)

He still would not answer the one simple question:

Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

How has Mr Cameron responded to this evidence?

Initially I was met with a brief dismissal. When I continued to ask the question I was told ‘the best’ department to answer my question was the Home Office. They simply provided information about process. This may be an answer, but not to the question that I had asked. In fact I have seen a copy of what could be called the ‘Hillsborough reply template’ which you have also signed on 14/5/13 in reply to Mark Hunter MP, when he asked the same question on behalf of a constituent.

(Letter 20 -10th March 2016)

Ultimately the Home Office letter simply told me “there are currently no plans to give any awards of recognition”. Clearly I already knew this, as it was the whole reason for my original letter to you.

(Letter 3 – 26th March 2013)

You said in your letter to Mark Hunter:

“The Hillsborough Independent Panel’ report revealed for the first time the shortcomings of the ambulance and emergency services’ response…… There is no doubt that without the help and assistance given by many fans on the day to the injured and the dying there could have been more fatalities”.

Mr Cameron, your words suggest these extraordinary people were simply ‘extras’ who were merely ‘assisting’, when in fact their heroic behaviour took place in spite of the extraordinary indifference of those they were entitled to expect to come to their assistance.

(Letter 4 – 9th June 2013)

In your statement on 12/9/12 you quoted from the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report that ”a swifter, more appropriate, better focused and more properly equipped response had the potential to save more lives”. Once again, I suggest you ask yourself how high the death toll would have been that afternoon had it not been for the extraordinary actions of these ordinary men and women?

(Letter 3 – 26th March 2013)

When I continued to ask the question I was told that now you had decided that ‘the best’ department to answer it was the Cabinet Office. They simply provided information about categories for awards and made it clear it would be my responsibility to submit a futile nomination for a category they had just told me did not exist.

(Letter 20 – 10th March 2016)

Mr Rogers says that collective awards are extremely rare and that only two have ever been granted for ‘heroism and devotion…in the face of extraordinary danger’. He then chooses to refer to the numbers of lives lost over a number of years in order to support the cases for these “exceptional” awards. I’m sure neither you nor Mr Rogers really need to be reminded of the number of people of all ages that lost their lives at Hillsborough in less than an hour.

(Letter 8 – 1st November 2013)

When I continued to ask the same question I was told you would now ignore me. In short, I have seen patronising dismissals followed by insulting diversions and eventually blunt ignorance. At no point in the 3 years and 20 letters have you engaged with my one simple question

(Letter 20 – 10th March 2016)

Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? Yes or no?

Letters 14 (21st October 2014) to 20 (10th March 2016) have remained unanswered.

You may seek to claim that you have far more urgent and serious issues to attend to than football related matters, but during the time that I have written you have been keen to be seen to be speaking about racism in football, players as role models, ticket prices, and your confusion about your ‘favourite’ team. But of course this is not a football matter. This is a matter of the public’s confidence and trust that the institutions that they pay to serve them as are ‘just’.

(Letter 20 – 10th March 2016)

During the eight months I had been asking the question, you have actively chosen to comment on:

  • footballers as role models;
  • tennis players deserving knighthoods more than anybody you can think of;
  • nominated a civil servant working with the Hillsborough Independent Panel for an OBE (just 38 weeks after the report was published);
  • provided a statement to the Liverpool Daily Post, in which you were at great pains to show the people of Liverpool just how deeply you care about Hillsborough, by listing your efforts to ensure truth and justice.

(Letter 9 – 21st December 2013)

Hillsborough 2

20 letters. 1 question, asked 30 times. No answer.

If this was a face-to-face interaction in which one person had to continue asking the same question for three years because the other person avoided giving a straightforward answer, an observer might come to one of two conclusions: either they were acting suspiciously or that they were incompetent.

(Letter 20 – 10th March 2016)

I am a voter. You are an elected representative. I am entitled to ask you a simple question and entitled to expect a simple answer.

(Letter 5 – 2nd July 2013)

On 24 October 2011 you were reported as saying that the Hillsborough families’ campaign for justice was ‘like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there’.

The Hillsborough inquest has plainly shown is that, when the blindfold is removed and the light is turned on, not only is the black cat in the room, there are in fact many, many ‘black cats’ that for a quarter of a century have been assisted in remaining hidden.

The inquest has also repeatedly shown that in that same room there are a multitude of genuine heroes who presumably you also wished to believe were absent too. Ordinary men and women whose heroism has been dismissed for 26 years because they were an inconvenient truth for the corrupt and self-serving ‘black cats’ hiding in the darkness (many of whom have received official honours from the state during that time).

There are no more excuses Mr Cameron. After 26 years the blindfold of “wicked lies” has been lifted and the light of truth is now illuminating both the most despicable and the most courageous side of human nature.

(Letter 15 – 7th February 2015)

In 2012 Louise Brooks made her own efforts to trace the three men who were seen carrying her brother on an advertising hoarding across the pitch in search of medical attention. She was desperate to find the people that tried to save her brother, to express her gratitude, and to find out whatever she could about his last moments. Eventually, through social media, she traced two of the men and discovered that the third had since passed away. You should be horrified that family members were required to act on their own initiative and go to such lengths to find the truth and express their personal thanks. And you should also be appalled that a person’s heroism was never acknowledged within their lifetime.

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

Operation Resolve have had to make repeated appeals for more than 40 people, identified through photos as being in the rescue attempts, to come forward. Given the manner in which they have been treated for 26 years, is it really any wonder that 25 have still to be identified

(Letter 17 – 24th July 2015)

Mr Cameron the steps are quite simple.

Step 1) You answer the simple question; Mr Cameron, do you agree that the actions of the ordinary men and women at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 deserve recognition in the form of a collective award in the same manner as other heroic acts? with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. If your answer is ‘No’ please say so, and that will be the end of it.

Step 2) If your answer is ‘Yes’, then the next question becomes what is the most suitable way in which to give due recognition to the Heroes of Hillsborough. Their collective acts of heroism took place in truly unique circumstances. Not only did they take place in what you described as “one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century”. They took place in the face of the almost total indifference of those trained, paid and led to serve and protect them. It is plain to see that what we witnessed at Hillsborough was a unique event.

I would suggest that if a suitable form of recognition does not currently exist for a unique event of such magnitude in British history, then common sense insists that, it is only right that one should be created.

(Letter 8 – 1st November 2013)

Hillsborough

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20 letters, 3 years, 1 question, No answer

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