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Hillsborough - Six Charged

edited June 2017 in Football

Not just Duckenfield (and personally I always feel slightly uncomfortable with criminalising error, however serious, without intent) but arguably more importantly those who consciously orchestrated the cover-up.

End in sight to a tawdry episode in the country's history. Grenfell perhaps shows that the same attitude of contempt for ordinary man from those in authority has not gone away though.


  • I agree broadly about Duckenfield but saying that despite reading and watching hours and hours about his role I don't think any of us know how much he was involved in covering up his actions.
    The one I have always felt the most hatred (I don't do hate) is Bettison. I would like to see that f¨cker stripped of title, pension and liberty. A cnut of the highest order that has climbed the greasy political pole with blood on his hands.

  • The hatred Duckenfield has earned is probably more by his actions after the disaster refusing to take responsibility and face accountability being retired off on a big police pension than his catastrophic blunders on the day of the disaster and failure to prepare properly for the match beforehand.

    I never thought I'd see the likes of Duckenfield and Bettison in the dock being brought to account for their criminal actions, worried they'd pop their clogs before they'd finally face criminal charges.

    Hopefully they'll face justice at long last.

  • Well they're already facing justice, aren't they, if they've been charged. I actively dislike this tendency to conflate "facing justice" with getting the verdict one desires to satisfy one's own preferences or, usually incompletely informed, ideas.

    I dare say a trial will bring to light more of the relevant facts, but I find it hard to see the real benefit to society of a trial like this 28 years after the event and imagine that it will likely be difficult to adduce evidence in a way that can properly be challenged, one way or the other, by anyone's recollection of specific events or decisions so long ago. I understand that the CPS is not in the habit of making politically-based decisions on charging, but I wonder to what extent their judgement of what is in the public interest here is informed by the climate of public attitudes to this matter.

  • The real benefit, other than justice for the victims and their friends and families, is that those with responsibilities to the public now know that they can after all be held accountable. Hopefully it will deter those who may be involved in future potential cover ups.

    It's desperate that it's taken so long to get to this point, but if the CPS believe there is a genuine chance of conviction why would they not proceed with the charges?

  • @HCblue , do you think there should be some sort of cut off for people facing punishment for their crimes?

  • There already is such a thing. Statute of limitations vary by crime though, and I'm not sure manslaughter should be included.

  • @bill_stickers , are serious crimes immune to it, as they only got round to some of the Nazi war criminals in recent times!

  • But they did get round to them, didn't they? If they were immune they never would have.

  • immune to the "statute of limitations" i in outside of any limits to punishment.

  • @Malone What @bill_stickers said, at least in part. But also, irrespective of statue, it is sometimes the case that cases based on events in the distant past are sometimes halted in the courts because of the fact that it will not be possible for a defendant to answer charges due to the passage of time making it impossible to challenge a versions of events that might otherwise be challenged. For example, were you to be accused of committing a theft on 13th April 1988, it would be impossible for you properly to consider whether there was someone you were with that day that would be able to provide an alibi that would exonerate you. I don't suggest this will happen here nor that it should, but it highlights that conducting trials of events like this is fraught with the possibility of error arising from lack of or faulty memory of events.

    In many of the comments around the Hillsborough case, and others like it, I sense an unhealthy vindictiveness and rush to judgement that has nothing to do with a genuine desire for justice and more to do with a wish to see a certain outcome. For example, earlier in this thread, one or two comments about a couple of the defendants were made that suggested the authors had a very close acquaintance with these people and knew their characters and proclivities well. This is simply not the case, of course, and those opinions were simply assumptions based on a general impression formed from reading a certain amount of press coverage of the inquiries and the comments of people involved in them.

    As a test of what I mean, I suggest a question: should the defendants ultimately be acquitted, will those currently celebrating the facing of justice also celebrate the fact that justice has been faced and a just outcome - according to law and decided by a jury of peers, etc. - arrived at, or will they protest the unfairness, and injustice, of the judicial process and complain that it has failed those that died at Hillsborough? If it's the latter, it's not justice that is being sought by those people but vengeance.

  • I think the earlier suggestion that the CPS has chosen to go ahead with proceedings was politically motivated, or driven by a desire to avoid criticism for not doing so, is not really credible. In a case of such sensitivity, the day to day courtroom activity will be very closely monitored - you can be pretty sure that David Conn will be there every day as he was at the inquest - and the CPS will not want that level of focus on a case they don't think has a good prospect of success. In other words, the flak that will fly if they go ahead and don't get a conviction will be worse than if they say now there isn't sufficient evidence. They will know that and I very much doubt that kicking the can down the road, at considerable public expense, would be seen as achieving anything. They will have taken this decision because they genuinely believe there is a realistic chance of conviction and probably, given the sensitivity, a rather better chance than that.

  • @Wig_and_Pen I quite agree that the CPS must have formed the view that there was a realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence, for the reasons you describe, though I don't think any flak later would likely be significantly different to the flak now. My posts were not a commentary about the decision to charge so much as the commentary about that decision, both here and, more especially, from people quoted in the msm. I continually fail to understand what I think is a relatively modern obsession with the media reporting people's feelings about an objective event rather than the event itself. Whether I am pleased the CPS have charged or you are displeased, and the reasons why we feel that way, are utterly irrelevant to the matter. Yet the media seems determined to report to the utmost degree exactly what various people connected to Hillsborough think about the decision. If you want to quote anyone in a way that would inform discussion, surely quote the people responsible for making the decision, not that they would be banal enough to say anything about it right now.

  • @HCblue "I continually fail to understand what I think is a relatively modern obsession with the media reporting people's feelings about an objective event rather than the event itself. Whether I am pleased the CPS have charged or you are displeased, and the reasons why we feel that way, are utterly irrelevant to the matter."

    The above is dead right.

    However, I think a balance of opinion is well over due on this matter, below are a list of people who had VERY strong opinions on the disaster at the time. You may wish to look them up, although it shouldn't take long most of them were printed in national newspapers or broadcast on prime time news.

    Many of them contained a lot of subjective opinions regarding peoples drinking habits.

    See if you can spot the link

    'Sir' Irvine Patnick
    'Sir' Bernard Ingham
    'Sir' Peter Wright
    'Sir' Norman George Bettison

  • Whilst agreeing with @HCblue about the potential of seeking vengeance over justice i think the prosecution in this case is entirely justified. There does appear to be evidence to a greater or lesser degree of attempts to cover up mistakes that were clearly (and pretty much indisputably) made. At the very least this should be fully explored in a court of law

  • @Wheresthechips Totally agree and point well made. I was looking at Ingham's comments again today, as it happens. Another version of the thing I was commenting on. On reflection, perhaps what has changed in the way the media report these days is that they are much more likely to report the reaction or feelings of non-establishment figures, whereas, as you rightly observe, they weren't shy to report the above comments years ago. Both are irrelevant, right? And, as most would accept now about the older comments and I would submit about the latter, not at all instructive.

    Whereas we used to celebrate authority for its own sake - if Sir So-and-so says it, it must be valid - my perception is that we have changed somewhat and now celebrate victimhood equally unthinkingly - he was in some way affected by this event; we must report his thoughts and respect them as valid and relevant.

  • And it's massively important that the voices of those directly affected are heard, to avoid repetition of things such as Hillsborough or the Jimmy Saville crimes.

    There isn't an equivalence between reporting the views of the establishment and victims, because there is very often a difference in the levels of power held by the two groups. Speaking to the media might be the only way that people such as families of Hillsborough victims can have any influence, but establishment figures have plenty of avenues through which to take action.

    If anything, the views of those affected by events such as Grenfell Tower remain under-reported in comparison to authority voices. But certainly better than it would have been twenty years ago.

    And bringing it back to smaller scale crimes, reading the letter written by a woman who was raped (available here but not always an easy read gives voice to a perspective that is still rarely heard. She is an articulate writer, but a lot of crime is against those who are vulnerable and less able to either express themselves or find an outlet through which to be heard. If the victims of Saville had been listened to at any point there would have been a lot less of them.

  • @Chris I take your point entirely and agree with your reasoning. But, firstly, was there any question in your mind that the Grenfell Tower fire was a terrible event that would have a significant and distressing impact on the people living there, even the survivors? Did you need to hear much comment from witnesses, passers-by, people who live a mile down the road, in order to work that out? Further, do think the police and fire brigade need, or perhaps want, to be described as heroes every time they do their job in the way they've been trained to?

    As I said earlier, I agree with the value of giving access to the public ear to non-authority figures. But the point I was trying to make has nothing to do with informative or instructive pieces like the one you linked to but rather with the tendency to emote at the expense of inform.

  • @HCblue I think we are in a culture of, "I knew that guy so hear my opinion". Even if often it isn't relevant.

    That kind of thing is not useful before any kind of facts have been established. I have no problem hearing personal testimony from individuals provided it is totally objective.

    When one opinion on the cause is given more 'air-time' over another, there is a problem there I agree.

    The difference I think with Hillsborough was that, I believe, opinions became 'fact'. Irvine Patnick himself said that what he had been told were actually 'facts'. Which then proved to be totally wrong. I will post the link of that particular interview if I can find it.

    This narrative of 'opinion' became so deeply entrenched that the coroner decided to take blood alcohol levels of all the people who died including children. As Phil Scraton pointed out this was completely unprecedented.

    You would in the case of an airline / train crash take blood alcohol levels of the driver for example, but not the deceased. It illustrated a clear attempt to create a narrative. That for many years worked and caused incredible distress.

    It is an interesting topic, I think more so now than ever it's more about getting a story out 'first' rather than it being particularly accurate which is why more stories are being heard.

  • This thread is one of the highlights of Gasroom 2.0.
    For such a contentious topic, there are a surprising amount of articulate and well argued points, many backed with sources.

    I never thought I'd see the day when criminal charges would be made. Make no mistake, the CPS have made a historic decision against the establishment. The trials will be fascinating whatever the eventual outcome.

  • I guess the difference now is that "Mainstream media" covers so many things. Blogs, Top Trending tweets, independent websites, even parody accounts and gifs get more traction than an a lot of national newspaper headlines.

    I think the recent spate of 'hung parliaments' and very, very close outcomes in things such as the referendum and national elections is an indication that peoples opinions are now much more heavily influenced by things such as social media, and also an indication that the nations opinions are more grey than ever before.

    Having just a few red-top tabloids in the past and very little else in terms of written media made it impossible to avoid picking one side or another.

    I'm sure most blues can remember kicking the seats in frustration on the coach home because they couldn't hear the radio and having to wait for the morning papers or teletext to find out the results. How times have changed!

  • Duckenfield was found not guilty of manslaughter today. Obviously we must trust the judgement of the jury who have heard the full evidence.

    I feel for the families of the victims denied the comfort of seeing someone in jail paying for the death of their loved ones.

    I always felt though that the real scandal was not a series of operational errors that lead to the tragic events but mistakes rather than deliberate acts but the deliberate cover up afterwards. Not sure what has happened to those cases listed in the OP. Perhaps I missed those verdicts. I hope justice is done in respect of the cover up.

  • If Duckenfield didn't know 96 people would die, why should he be guilty. A difficult decision.

  • With a charge of manslaughter this takes in to account the fact that the accused would not have thought the actions would have led to death.

    Granted I've only used Googles definition

    "the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or in circumstances not amounting to murder."

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