THE latest application from the South Yorkshire Police to receive public funds to meet legal costs of the new Hillsborough inquest has been met with disdain amongst Liverpool fans. The families themselves received no such monies during their long fight for justice so this is a particularly galling development. Sheila Coleman, from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, said: ‘Obviously it’s not going to sit easy with families or survivors who will feel like the state that allowed the cover up of Hillsborough is now funding the people who initiated it.’
Let’s be clear here. This isn’t a call for funds, but for extra funds. Practically every large organisation will have a budget ring fenced/indemnity insurance in place for the possibility of adverse legal action and it’s not as if they didn’t see this coming since September 2012.
This follows the news that the SYP will also persist in their already discredited claim that ‘drunken fans’ were to blame for the crushing in ’89 – a view that was dismissed, ridiculed even, as far back as the Taylor Report, decades before the HIP findings. So, in summary, we’re getting the usual shite and they’re asking us to pay for it.
Sadly, this is all too predictable. The SYP were always going to continue with their black ops smear campaign and anyone who thought they were just going to put their hands up and confess is naive at best. If a covert TV documentary had footage of Bettison and his cronies for the week following 15th April they’d still deny it and point the finger at the fantasy they created. Seemingly, saving their own skin is more important than truth and justice. This contradicts their credo – to protect and serve the community.
What I don’t want to do is use The Anfield Wrap to write an ‘all the police are bastards’ diatribe. I don’t believe they are. Nor do I believe that everyone connected with the SYP are bastards. What is interesting is that the higher you go up the chain, the men and women with whom we don’t interact, the closer you are to self-interest and protection of those whose sole job is to protect us all.
Personally, on the rare occasions I’ve been involved with the police force they’ve been fine. I’ve no axe to grind there. All right, there’s the odd incident which left a sour taste but only one. Once, when walking home with a mate, I was stopped by a member of Merseyside Police and questioned as to my destination and whereabouts during the evening. Actually, ‘questioned’ isn’t quite strong enough. ‘Aggressively cross-examined’ would be closer to the mark. Our crime was being young and walking about at night. We weren’t acting suspiciously and nothing we did deserved the manner in which he addressed us. He didn’t like our ‘attitude’, a point he made several times, which was hardly a surprise as we weren’t too pleased about being stopped and grilled for the sheer sake of it. This didn’t colour my view of the police as a whole, however. This man was a prick. Fine. Even jumped up gobshites need to find employment but that was the only time I’ve ever been treated with suspicion and, by consequence, as a criminal. That’s one instance, just one, in my whole adult life.
The only other time I’ve been treated poorly by the police is at football games when I’ve wanted to wait for my mates, queued to get into a ground, tried to walk down a road towards a ground and, most villainous of all, asked for directions to a ground. That was different though. I wasn’t a member of the public then. I was a football fan. There’s a distinction there and it was one that was defined in the 80s. The police didn’t like us because we were young, enjoying ourselves and susceptible to tomfoolery. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that criminal activity was non-existent back then, every club has their knobheads, but this was a general mistrust dished out to everyone who attended games. They didn’t like us simply because we were football fans. It’s important to remember that. If the common conception is that football supporters are no more than feral scum it’s easy to tell the world that they were to blame all along during the aftermath of disasters. If it’s one word against the other, where one in respected by the media, politicians and middle England while the other are deemed barely capable of polysyllabic words it’s easy enough for the finger to be pointed in one direction when blame is apportioned.
It’s interesting that word: respected. The police are respected. That’s a good thing, a great thing even. They protect and serve after all and we should be respectful of that. You call on them when you’re in need and whether you’ve been robbed, attacked or whatever it’s reassuring to have them there. Again, this isn’t an attack on the public facing force despite the odd one-off prick with a sense of respect entitlement, but what about higher up the chain? What about good and bad? Shouldn’t all rookie officers join the force with ideals and truths? Again, to protect and serve? Of course, they should and that should never erode as they climb the career ladder. Oh, but it does.
That term again: protect and serve. Protect and serve whom? Themselves? Let’s look at the facts. The police royally fucked up the first hour of Hillsborough. The failure to open the other pens, Duckenfield ‘freezing’, the line of officers across the pitch while people lay dying when basic CPR could have saved them and the one , ONE, ambulance on the pitch. Who were being protected and served during that hour, please? The Forest fans? Duckenfield himself? Then came the aftermath – the second Hillsborough tragedy. The black ops, Patnick, McKenzie, Thatcher, Ingham etc. Patnick, the Sheffield MP who fed White’s Press Agency the original lie, Thatcher and Ingham whose government supposedly represented the entire country and McKenzie, their ever willing troll. This wave of ‘protection’ came while bodies were still warm and car seats sat empty on the long drive back from Sheffield. Protect and serve whom? Not the injured, dead or grieving – the people who needed it.
The police’s primary objective is to fight crime but what happens when they themselves become the perpetrators? What happens when they are accused? Easy. You get the top brass of another police force to investigate you. That’ll be independent. Then there’s the coroner who will be equally objective so you’ll just have to see how that goes. To protect and serve we must find the corrupt, the dishonest, the bullying and the seditious even if it’s ourselves. That’s how the law works.
No fucking chance.
The independent investigation was nothing of the kind. The West Midlands Police were given a brief to restore the faith in the force rather than taking down those at fault. First, let’s have Detective Superintendent Stan Beechey, the former head of the West Midlands Serious Crime squad, who had the ear of Dr Stefan Popper, the South Yorkshire Coroner, the same Serious Crime Squad that was closed down due to the fabrication and planting of evidence as well as extracting confessions under duress. Just the man to protect and serve. Beechey was later charged with perverting the cause of justice. For his part, Dr Popper gave his erroneous verdict of ‘accidental death’ and went for a drink in a side room with the top tier of the SYP. Boxes of champagne were being delivered while the families were still in the building. Pre-ordered, you’d think.
Independent? Protect and serve whom?
Earlier this week someone on Twitter asked me if the fans were such heroes that day why did they push into an already packed stand. See. The cover up still works to this day. These people knew what they were doing.
Then there’s the third wave of black ops – the intimidation and discrediting of protesters and witnesses. Sheila Coleman has stated that six of the families had their phone tapped while other witnesses, some still grieving, were treated like criminals by bullying members of both police forces in what seems like a targeted campaign. Their crime? Judicially reviewing a verdict of accidental death. It’s pretty obvious who is being protected and served here. Close ranks and circle the wagons, boys.
The news that the SYP are persisting with their claims is the last desperate attempt to save themselves, to appeal to the state that the police must be respected and a last search of sympathy from the bastions of middle England. Thatcher refused to put herself in a position where the police, her own Praetorian Guard in the 80s, would be criticised and there are many who rather blame Liverpool than, to their mind, an unimpeachable institution.
Where does this put the apologies made in September 2012 by the Prime Minister, Sheffield Wednesday, McKenzie, the equally odious Jack Straw and the South Yorkshire Police? Yes, the South Yorkshire Police! Seriously. It’s here.
For law to work no one should be above it. For policing to work they themselves must be subject to punitive measures if that law is transgressed and the protection for government of either party (for I include Labour in this) and an old boys network should never be a sufficient barrier for justice to be sought. Hillsborough isn’t ‘the odd rotten apple’, it’s an example of absolute power corrupting absolutely and this latest petty defence and request for monies to fund further harm is an indictment of a police force who refuse to acknowledge that, even decades after Hillsborough, they continue to protect and serve only themselves.
Justice for the 96.
Images: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda.