Monday, April 27, 2009

Breaking Ranks

Through a series of non-attributable briefings since the Hillsborough Memorial Service, the families of those who died in the disaster have been led to believe that official movement on the release of all the relevant documents, in an unaltered form, has begun. Though clearly welcome, it's necessary to remain sceptical until that comes to pass. [Incidentally, the coverage of this particular issue by the Oldham Echo has been less than helpful in its headlines, interchanging "could" with "will" with confusing regularity; Echo editor Alastair Machray needs to get a grip of what remains of his sub-editing operations.]
Chinks in the armour put up for 20 years by South Yorkshire police are, however, beginning to emerge. Liverpool Confidential today relates ( ):
"A Hillsborough policewoman has become the first officer to claim she was bullied into changing her statement in the aftermath of the disaster.
"Special Constable Debra Martin says she made a statement telling how Kevin Williams, a Liverpool fan of 15, died in her arms at 3.55pm on the day of the tragedy.
"But, according to a report in yesterday's Sunday Mirror, officers branded her a 'liar' and forced her to change the time to 3.15pm -- to hide the fact he could have been saved."
The fall-out from the memorial service is clearly having an effect within Whitehall. Just how great that effect is very much remains to be seen. What can't be gainsaid is the message a visibly shaken Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, took back to his colleagues.
While on the subject of the service, there has been a number of critical comments made by fans about Trevor Hicks' handling of the event as well as some of the comments he made. It should be recognised that Mr Hicks had prepared his text in the expectation that this year's turnout would be in the region of 12,000-15,000. The fact that over 30,000 attended probably threw him.
However, there were two points he made which should now be addressed. Mr Hicks, in a somewhat rambling & haphazard manner, referred to the need for all-seater stadia after Hillsborough. He should be aware that terracing per se was not a contributory issue on the day. Secondly, he condemned the lies which have been perpetuated by certain websites & blogs. Yes, the libel has been repeated ad nauseam online. However, for every moron who has posted ignorant & prejudicial "thoughts" on the tragedy, at least a score of other commenters, posters & bloggers have stressed the reality of that day & who was really responsible.

No comments: