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Hillsborough police cover up exposed

By Stu Bates

On 15 April 1989, 96 Liverpool supporters attending the FA cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium never returned home. Now, 20 years on, a new independent report has exposed a massive police cover-up.

The police and Sheffield Wednesday bosses were to blame for the disaster, not the fans. The stadium failed to meet safety standards, and similar crushes had taken place before. There weren’t enough turnstiles open to deal with the high volume of supporters.

As the disaster unfolded, police beat back fans climbing fences to escape the crush, and allowed only one of the 44 ambulances into the stadium. Supporters attempted to resuscitate the victims as best they could, and ripped up advertising hoardings to use as stretchers for the injured.

This year the Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded the lives of 41 supporters could have been saved if they had received prompt medical treatment. Those deaths are down to the police, not the fans or some unavoidable disaster.

The original coroner limited his investigation to events before 3:15pm, when ambulances arrived, ignoring the one of the main causes of death – the police obstructing ambulances. Nearly 200 police statements were changed, removing any comments which exposed the police. The police, media and Prime Minister Thatcher herself blamed Liverpool supporters for the crush.

Miners’ strike
This wasn’t the first cover-up in South Yorkshire. The “Battle of Orgreave” was a key event in the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984-85, where police brutally attacked picketing miners, injuring 51 and arresting 93. South Yorkshire police were forced to pay half a million pounds in compensation in a case that QC Michael Mansfield called “the biggest frame-up ever”. But not a single officer was disciplined for misconduct.

Mansfield’s claim that the South Yorkshire police had a culture of fabricating evidence has been vindicated by the new Hillsborough inquiry, prompting calls for a new investigation into Orgreave.

In both cases the press published police lies as truth, and put the blame on working class people. After Hillsborough, Thatcher praised the police and attacked fans. The Sun went furthest with an article, “The Truth”, accusing fans of pickpocketing and obstructing the police – when it was the police who obstructed ambulances!

This just proves that the capitalist state and media are not “neutral”. They systematically smear trade unions and are full of anti-working class prejudice.

It’s not just South Yorkshire, the police up and down the country cover up their crimes: phone-hacking and bribes from the Murdoch press, the unlawful killing of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests, the shooting of Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger… the list goes on.

Now West Yorkshire police chief Sir Norman Bettison, involved in the Hillsborough cover-up at the time, and having boasted of “fitting up Liverpool fans”, has resigned, hoping to avoid the consequences. He and all the other guilty cops should be prosecuted. All the families, support groups, campaigns for justice, and trade unions should launch an independent inquiry into all these cover-ups and campaign for justice together.

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