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South Yorkshire Chief Supt (in '89) telling lies in the Mail


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A great article by Lawton in the Independent today:

 

James Lawton: I was a witness to the needless death of 96 football fans. The memory still sickens me

 

On the 20th anniversary of tragedy at Hillsborough, The Independent's chief sports writer explains why the police have a case to answer

It never goes away. The waste of it, the dereliction of duty, the callousness implicit in the cheap branding of innocent people who died so unnecessarily and the cover-up which started when Mrs Thatcher brought flowers the following morning – and bought the stories so carefully edited by the men who had failed so abjectly to protect 96 lives.

 

The deepest horror, 20 years on, is still the one that came, with sickening clarity even for someone untrained in policing or public safety, before a single life was lost.

 

You had only to stand outside the crush of the Leppings Lane end – as I did 20 minutes or so before the start of the game – to know that so many lives were in terrible danger and that, inevitably, some would be lost.

 

Maybe, worst of all, was the sense that nobody seemed to care. A group of policemen and women, without deployment, stood in a circle, talking among themselves.

 

It was surreal, a nightmare from which there could be no awakening. A mounted policeman tried to wheel, unsuccessfully, in space that was being filled more tightly with every second as more people were pressed down on the gate, and the flash of panic across his face was, you knew the moment you saw it, something you would never forget. It told you that in that hellish side of a football ground no one's safety could be guaranteed.

 

There was no control, no leadership, no apparent awareness of the odds rising so swiftly, so inexorably, against the possibility of averting a tragedy.

 

Now, after all the research and irrefutable evidence and documentation, the public knows, if they care to, the anatomy of this tragedy.

 

They know of the failures of the police, their deceits, their refusal to officially acknowledge any direct responsibility for what happened, and the lack of success in the private prosecution of the commander who was allowed to retire, without the disciplinary action recommended by the official Taylor report, on grounds of ill-health and on a full pension – shortly before taking a job as secretary of his local golf club.

 

But if such facts can still engender rage, if the refusal of home secretaries and police authorities to say, yes, there was a terrible negligence, and we need to say sorry to all those who lost loved ones, can only be seen as shockingly insensitive cruelties, there is also a more personal angst for anyone who happened to be there.

 

If you knew it was going to happen, how could you simply take the advice of the policewoman and walk to the other side of the ground, where the Nottingham Forest fans had not been herded into dangerously overcrowded places, then walk into the press box and sit next to a colleague and point to the Leppings Lane end and say, "People are going to die over there"?

 

No, you were as powerless as so many of the leaderless policemen and the dedicated ambulance drivers who, before it was too late, were denied access to the football pitch that had become a killing field.

 

But maybe you could have screamed to the heavens against this horror created by insufficient care and professionalism.

 

Instead, you tried to do your job as a reporter. You went down on to the field and saw the pathetic attempts to make stretchers of advertising hoardings. You said to yourself that you could indeed do what was urged upon you by one tear-stained man... "tell the world what really happened... everyone who has died here deserves that".

 

Down the years you tried to be faithful to that command. You drove to Liverpool to give evidence to the West Midlands Police who were conducting an "independent" inquiry.

 

You went into the witness box in Leeds Crown Court in the private prosecution but you felt useless then because all you could really say was that you knew it was going to happen, and if you knew why didn't the police know, and why didn't they react professionally.

 

Why were they so inert? Why were stories planted in The Sun that drunken fans robbed the dead and urinated on first-aid workers, stories that made you sick in the stomach if you had been out on the field and seen the desperate, untutored efforts to help the dead and the dying.

 

While the ambulances were held up by police because a "riot" was going on, those makeshift stretchers were made and there were beseeching attempts at mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

 

In the absence of any form of official apology, which is the last scandal of Hillsborough, the steady seepage of truth is no doubt a small source of comfort to the bereaved.

 

The worst of the lies have been held up to the light and been ridiculed. But this does nothing to lessen the need for that apology.

 

Closure cannot come without it because it is one thing to know what happened, and see that it is plain to all dispassionate witnesses, and quite another to wait so long for such a concession from those who out of self-interest tried hardest to deny it.

 

In so many ways, those who have argued most passionately for the dead of Hillsborough have been vindicated. They have kept faith with the memory of their loved ones and they have exposed terrible injustice.

 

All that is left is the need for a breath of atonement. Twenty years is long enough to wait but then if you were there and powerless it is easy to understand why some will keep up their hopes until the day they die.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/footbal...me-1668852.html

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Has the interview been on 5Live yet?

 

Can't believe it's a good idea to have a phone in show about this, with him, today - just seems a huge mistake by the BBC to me.

 

It's the BBC, the same company who routinely employ Kelvin Mckenzie to pass judgement on how offensive people like Jonathon Ross have been and how they should be sacked whilst smiling with an ironic, moronic, grin.

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Brilliant from Lawton

It is a very welcome piece of writing.

Is there a sense that the message is slowly getting across ? I've noticed a lot more on tv and in the papers that attempts to address some of the myths that still persist. I had a look at a thread on Redcafe where one brave fan had posted the lengthy and excellent guardian article. One or two United fans had the patience to read it and reply that it taught them some facts of what had happened on the day that they weren't aware of.

This gives me some hope. If people are still prepared to keep saying the truth at the risk of all the hurtful accusations, then slowly more people will know what happened. The more people who know, the more will demand answers and an apology.

 

I thought Andy Burnham was going to announce something new today, for a moment I thought he'd come to say there would be a new inquiry.

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I thought Andy Burnham was going to announce something new today, for a moment I thought he'd come to say there would be a new inquiry.

 

I think a few people thought he had come with something to say, but unfortunately he didn't, was just a PR stunt for new labour.

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I think a few people thought he had come with something to say, but unfortunately he didn't, was just a PR stunt for new labour.

 

He knew he was rumbled. He looked shamefaced but he was under orders.

 

I'm glad so many were there. I felt ashamed of myself that i'm always scared of the memorials.

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Anyone have an email address for Lawton?

 

I'd be quick enough to jump on somone who regurgitated old lies. I'd like to give credit where its due as well.

 

He also brings up a point that doesn't get focused on enough imo, that is:

 

Why, when it became clear that things had been tragically mis handled by the police and their leaders, was the thoughts of said leaders not with the dead or injured and how they could try to help but instead went into smear and spin mode?

 

I know that "The Truth" is always mentioned, but it's the Sun and MacKenzie that take the abuse - which they fully deserve for putting sales ahead of actual common decency - but the fact remains they (and the Star) could never have printed that story if they hadn't been fed it from official sources in the immediate aftermath. It amazes me that the general population doesn't pick up on this more, the police seem to have an in built mechanism that springs into action with lies and smears whenever they are in the wrong - the Menezes (sp?) shooting is another clear example, in fact both cases are remarkably similar. In both cases police mis-management led to an innocent persons death and within hours the press had been briefed that he ran, was an illegal, had a back pack and looked like their target - all demonstrable lies, all depressingly familiar tactics "He/ they deserved it really" seems to be the message they were trying to portray.

 

To me this issue alone is the reason why the public in general should back the justice campaign, do they really want a police force that when things go wrong hide behind lies and spin? The most depressing thing for me though is I doubt many people would have had their opinions changed, they believe the accounts given by the police (and I've met more than a few over the years that said something along the lines of "Yeah, but you lot caused it didn't you? The police just apologised to shut your moaning").

 

I'm fully behind the campaign for justice for the 96 but I wouldn't hold my breath that yesterday changed anyones mind at all.

Edited by The walters step over
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think he's on j.lawton@independent.co.uk

 

He is indeed. Sent him this:

 

Mr Lawton

 

I just felt compelled to send you a quick e-mail in response to your article of Wednesday 15th April 2009 - 'I was a witness to the needless death of 96 football fans. The memory still sickens me'.

 

I can't say I make a habit of doing this, but equally I can't pretend that I haven't occasionally felt the need to make contact with journalists in the past regarding articles they have written relating to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.

 

The difference is that wheraas in the past, I have been writing to challenege the regurgitation of the same old lies about gates being broken down, hordes of drunken and ticketelss fans, and worse, this time I am writing to simply say 'Thank you'.

 

Thank you for having the courage to want to print the REAL truth about the disaster and for having the eloquence to convey it so powerfully.

 

I know that you didn't write the article in order to curry favour with Liverpool fans, and that you simply wrote it as an honest expression of youre thoughts about that day. All the same, that makes you no less deserving of my gratitude. If even one person has their misconcpetions about the disaster challenegd by reading that article, then you have done a great thing and brought us one tiny step closer to a time when nobody can ignore the truth any longer. Given the circulation of your paper, I would hope and believe that actually a great many people were given food for thought.

 

Added to that is the boost given to me and, though I cannot to claim to speak for us all, I would imagine a great many other Liverpool fans (and people who simply care about the truth) by reading your words. When the usual 'Self-Pity City'/'Victim Culture' accusations get thrown at us, as they have been in the last few days by the ignorant, the ill-informed and the simply malicious, it is nice to be able to point them in the direction of articles such as yours.

 

Many thanks

 

And got this back:

 

Thank you for your kind note. I'm simply glad that down the years I have been in position to attempt to balance some of the terrible untruths which, as you say, still linger so shamefully, Regards, Jim Lawton

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I wrote to him too; was struck by kop205's comments yesterday, because I have written to loads of journalists about badly researched Hillsborough articles down the years.

 

anyway I got this reply:

 

thank you for your kind note. We can only hope that the anger expressed in that impressive Anfield anniversary service has more than passing impact. Still, as you say, there is a duty to tell the truth that cannot go away....regards, jim lawton

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Also wrote to Mr Lawton yesterday to express my thanks - he replied:

 

Thank you for your kind note. Be assured that, like all those who suffered more personal loss, I will not forget what happened that day, or to express my opinion on it as long as I'm able...or hopefully, until the day when some accountability is on the record. Regards, jim lawton

 

Top man.

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  • 2 years later...

THE MAN in charge of South Yorkshire Police at the time of the Hillsborough disaster has died aged 82.

Former Chief Constable Peter Wright held on to his job in the wake of the tragedy, which saw 96 Liverpool fans killed in a crush at a football match in 1989.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy Mr Wright had to deal with claims made by his own force that Liverpool fans had forced open the gate which led to overcrowding in the pens.

His men were also criticised for crowd mismanagement in the subsequent Taylor report, and Mr Wright, who had led the force since 1983 stepped down in 1990.

 

http://www.wirralnews.co.uk/wirral-news/local-wirral-news/2011/09/22/hillsborough-chief-constable-peter-wright-dies-aged-82-100252-29467556/

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THE MAN in charge of South Yorkshire Police at the time of the Hillsborough disaster has died aged 82.

Former Chief Constable Peter Wright held on to his job in the wake of the tragedy, which saw 96 Liverpool fans killed in a crush at a football match in 1989.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy Mr Wright had to deal with claims made by his own force that Liverpool fans had forced open the gate which led to overcrowding in the pens.

His men were also criticised for crowd mismanagement in the subsequent Taylor report, and Mr Wright, who had led the force since 1983 stepped down in 1990.

 

http://www.wirralnews.co.uk/wirral-news/local-wirral-news/2011/09/22/hillsborough-chief-constable-peter-wright-dies-aged-82-100252-29467556/

 

"Peter Wright was also the man in charge of policing of the 1984 miners’ strike. He died in hospital in York on Saturday after a long illness."

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