By Peter Carney, March 2001
LAST Thursday an ex South Yorkshire policeman, Mathew Long, was awarded £330,000 for the suffering he has been caused by late onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don’t know the full details of the role this man played on the day which caused him this upset but it raises a few questions. Where exactly was he on duty during that day?
Was he in the canteen supping tea when the gates were opened, or was he on the fence between the pens and the pitch pushing people back in? We know he couldn’t have been carrying the victims on hoardings because that was done by the people who had climbed out of the pens. Was he in the line of policemen who stretched across the pitch to ‘stop trouble between fans’? Or was he one of the policemen who had to restrain a drunken (allegedly) Brian Clough in the tunnel? Maybe he was in the police cctv box watching the pens filling up and doing nothing about it.
He may have been guarding a gate outside the Leppings Lane end. It may have been him who told lies to the S*n about drunken fans picking the pockets of the dead and pissing on their bodies. I really don’t know where he was, what he was doing or what it was that has caused him to suffer so much that he should be awarded £330,000. I don’t even know what the £330,000 was for.
Is it loss of wages? Is it for future counselling that will help him overcome his suffering? I don’t think it was offered to compensate for the physical pain and suffering he has endured because he wasn’t in the pens and anyway the paper said it was for ‘late onset post traumatic stress disorder’. I think that means his head has been cabbaged since the 15th April, 1989 (nearly 12 years or approximately 4337 days, a long time with a headache) but he didn’t realise until the last couple of years and when he did realise the suffering he has been caused it was enough for him to take early retirement with an enhanced pension on the grounds of being too sick to continue in the job. So given that he has already secured an early retirement and an enhanced pension what is the £330,000 for?
I have no doubt that there are South Yorkshire policemen who have suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of their being on duty at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989 and I have no doubt that there are SYP officers who have suffered late onset PTSD. Indeed I am absolutely sure that this is so because I was in Pen 3, have suffered from PTSD as a result, and know first hand of Pen 3 & 4 survivors who have continuously suffered from PTSD since 15th April 1989 and survivors who have suffered late onset PTSD. Every single of one of them has had to fight and struggle for their suffering to be recognised by those who are paying compensation but not accepting liability, even to the point where they (SYP Insurance reps) denied a survivor, whose step brother was killed, could feel as much in his death as a ‘natural’ brother would. Which shows the lengths they would go to to deny a survivor his suffering – yet one of their own turns up eight or nine years later crying about his suffering and they throw the book (cheque book), the till and all the loose change they can find at him.
On the day, 1st March, 2001, this ex policeman received his £330,000 compensation for late onset PTSD, a man who survived Pen 4 (whose testimony, incidentally, contradicted the official version of events) lay in the High Dependency Unit at Fazakerley Hospital struggling to get oxygen into lungs which were suffering from Fibrosis, a condition he had diagnosed on New Year’s Day. At 5.45a.m. that man died, he was 44. He had spent 60 days struggling for air to keep him alive in the same way that he had struggled for air in Pen 4 on 15th April, 1989. He left behind a wife, three children and at least (I don’t know them all) five grandchildren.
This man had received compensation of less than £3,000 a couple of years after the disaster. Money he took to get him and his family over the particular Christmas it was offered. It was obvious to him and those who knew him that he has continued to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (needs to know the way out of any building as soon as he gets in them, aware of his mortality every day, can’t make body contact in queues etc etc). A psychologist has recently written a report on his behalf which says as much and his legal action against the solicitors who mishandled his suffering was about to see the light of day in court at the time he died. But his lungs never held out and the tragedy of it is that, despite his heightened sense of mortality, he was not insured (too costly, deal with that when it comes) leaving his family with a huge debt just to have him cremated. Of course, his friends and extended family will have a whip round to help out and I’m sure we’ll manage to cover the funeral bills at least. Or as the man himself would say, “Something will turn up if it’s only your toes.”
I don’t wish to see this ex policeman, or anyone for that matter, denied his rightful compensation for injury or distress he has suffered, whether he was at work or not, but what really makes me angry, bitter and frustrated about Hillsborough is the continuous and continuing denials of the effects that being in Pens 3 & 4 had, and is having, on those who were in Pens 3 & 4 and those who were genuine in their rescue efforts. Hillsborough doesn’t make sense to me and never will. But it does make sense that people who have, or do, suffered PTSD (late onset included) as a result of being in Pens 3 & 4 or taking part in the rescue be awarded their rightful compensation.
What really bothers me about this particular £330,000 compensation is the same bother I have with everything else related to Hillsborough, it makes me angry, bitter and frustrated and I know why but am helpless to do anything other than hope it will get better but it doesn’t.
Those responsible, not just SYP officers, should have been charged with criminal offences by the DPP straight away. The whole shebang was twisted and distorted from the minute our witch PM was on the pitch. On the Monday, the South Yorkshire Stitch Up Committee was sorted by Norman ‘Bastard’ Bettison and any chance of getting a case into a ‘real’ criminal court went out the window with the video tapes from the control room.
The longest inquest in history, where the only mention of some killed victims was in the roll of honour before the minutes silence, a massive public inquiry, in two halves, which apportioned a lot of the blame onto the police for lack of control (and what did that result in? Absolutely nothing except stewards now taking responsibility for safety in stadiums).
8 years later, a Labour government offers the Stuart Smith stitch up which reveals absolutely nothing we didn’t know already (except the conniving ways the establishment have of getting their own out of the shite and leaving the victims to suffer the consequences) and says there are no grounds for any criminal or other legal action. And amongst all the kick off that went on, one MP reveals he didn’t wish to order a new inquest because he wasn’t sure that was what the bereaved families wanted (sic) and one T Hick reveals a conversation in a radio station corridor between a legal rep and a politico which effectively shut the door on that one.
Then we had the Billy Smart Performing Monkeys parade in Leeds, where the two most senior police officers on duty on the day of the disaster were on ‘trial’ for manslaughter (and other incidentals) yet the only people threatened with being imprisoned were a bereaved father and a Pen 3 survivor, both threatened with contempt of court proceedings for speaking publicly about the disaster. The survivor was threatened with jail for using the words ‘Killing Fields’, the same words which had accompanied a picture of a victim being treated on the front page of a national daily newspaper on the Wednesday after the disaster.
The showtime parade in Leeds was useful for one thing, besides showing British Justice to be a nonsense, it had an effect on my understanding of Hillsborough . For years I wondered if the criminal charge that was needed should be murder or manslaughter. It was both, murder because those who pushed people back into Pens 3 & 4 knew full well what the consequences of their action was and manslaughter because standing round doing nothing was enough for these police officers and stewards to kill and injure people. If I could really lay a criminal charge against those responsible, not just SYP, then it would be stateslaughter, or conspiracy to stateslaughter, and the dock would be as big as a directors box.
But of course, that’s a nonsense just like the nonsense that passes off as Justice in this country.
None of this helps my mate who died fighting the bastards who nearly killed him and caused him mental pain and anguish for nearly twelve years, or the suffering copper, but it helps to show what the continuing effects of surviving Pens 3 & 4 are, and I hope it will help some people understand what it means to suffer PTSD (including late onset).
If you would like to help the survivors family meet their funeral costs, please contact the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.
As he would say “Justice,My Arse”.
Alf’s funeral took place at Anfield Crematorium on Friday 9th March, 2001 at 3.30p.m. The place was packed.
This was written by Peter in 2001, over ten years ago, and is published here with his permission. Peter was one of the survivors of Pen 3 at Hillsborough and was instrumental in the founding of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.
Follow the HJC on Twitter: @HJC_Official.