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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

I, too, believed the lying plods

In the Mail this morning I recommend Peter Oborne's account of the aftermath of the Hillsborough findings. Like Oborne, I too believed plod's account at the time (a lying travesty of evasion, distortion, invention and calculated dishonesy) which shamefuly the plods' lawyers even tried to maintain at the inquest. It wasn't as if I was stupid or naive or even trusted Plod; I'd trained as a mining engineer in south Yorkshire when the coal miners went on strike, and I'd seen at first hand the real suffering of folk in the pit villages around Doncaster and the bastardy of the drafted-in plods - Maggie's Army. I'd been stopped on the A1 regularly on the Friday night drive home to Suffolk every time plod spotted my safety gear in the car and knew what it felt like to be seconds away from the primitive threat of thuggish violence if you gave the wrong response, or cheeked them. One learned to be humble, contrite, apologetic and big-up the southern middle class accent.

I came across the same plods, this time experienced and combat-hardened, during the Wapping dispute in London. Driving from central to south London via Blackwall Tunnel meant running the gauntlet of checkpoints, and vans full of armoured plods with clubs round every corner. So when Hillsborough happened, I had no reasons to imagine plod was a creature elevated in any way from the extinct neanderthal primates. Yet I did believe their Hillsborough lies - that the fans were drunk, rowdy, that they were out of control, had rioted, and the 96 dead were none of Plod's fault. God forgive me.


Dioclese said...

Police or fans? Who do you believe?

As with most things I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle but hey! We need somebody to blame because its never our fault is it?

Poisonedchalice said...

Dioclese - the enquiry was robust in the extreme. The jurors had to endure tens of thousands of reports; they had to scrutinise photos and video clips with a fine-toothed comb to get to the truth. The enquiry took years and left absolutely no stone unturned. The results of the 14 final questions delivered - beyond any reasonable doubt - the truth as it should have been delivered back in 1989; and the answers to questions 6 and 7 told it as it should have been told. 6. The people who were killed, were unlawfully killed and 7. the fans themselves are completely exonerated. There is no longer any doubt here and there is no "middle ground" to be sought. The fans were right and those in charge were wrong - case closed.

Raedwald - like you, I too unfortunately fell for the lies. But only for a short time; the lies started to unravel quite quickly but the cover-ups kept coming. It is a shame and a stain on our nation that will remain so forever. And like you, I hope God forgives me.

Coney Island

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Back to Peel's principles?

Mr Ecks said...

The police are costumed thugs who support the scum of the state. That is their prime directive. Dealing with real crime--thieving, violence etc is a small side business and it shows.

Apparently said...

How about the politicians Dioclese?

For it was they that treated these fans as pigs to be caged...

They control plod, and they control the press, and it is the Sun that to this day is not bought in Liverpool.

It is the politicians that are currently replaying the same tune... The crowd is getting unruly, lets tell a big pile of lies and sow some doubt...

Make them support us and vote to remain chained to the establishment corporatist system.

Anonymous said...

How much of the cover up came from the fact the police called in the massive favour they were owed by the Tory government for their effective (and as Radders observes often brutal ) suppression of the miners?

rapscallion said...

I can only add to what Mr Ecks said, and say the the Police are NOT here to protect the public - that went out the window decades ago. The Police are now utterly politicised and will do the government's bidding whether legal or not. They WILL enforce the government's bidding no matter what. Consider this: no police officer has ever been convicted of unlawful killing (to my knowledge). Now, why is that?

I must declare an interest and say that I was brought up in South London in the 60's and 70's and I know how bent they really are. To me, they will always be "the filth"

John Dub said...

"no police officer has ever been convicted of unlawful killing (to my knowledge)."

Take the case of Jean Charles de Menezes. I wouldn't go after the coppers who shot him. After all, they thought they were chasing a suicide bomber into a tube carriage. They were brave.

But Cressida Dick, who was running the show in an utterly cack handed manner, should have at least been unceremoniously fired - and I would have prosecuted her as well if for no other reason that "pour encourager les autres,"

Instead she has been promoted twice.

Dr Evil said...

The simple and naive question is why wasn't this dragged in to the open 27 years ago during the first inquest. It seems that, I read, the coroner at the time belonged to the same freemasonic lodge as the senior police officers. Isn't it about time that 'police must not belong to secret societies' rule be added alongside the rule banning police strikes?

mikebravo said...

Dr Evil.

"... 'police must not belong to secret societies' .."

Next you will be asking that they also don't attend common purpose seminars!

How will they get their orders from their leaders?

Anonymous said...

This was one of those occasions when the awfulness of what happened went off the scale and so the ranks they did close - top to bottom. Very hard to break through after that, especially with the establishment also backing the 'unruly fans' thesis. Similar thing happened with Rotherham, et al., only slower; and far greater in the numbers affected, by piss poor policing.

Number Seven of the Nine Principles of Policing (1829)

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

That is all.


John Dub said...

Maybe the police should rebrand themselves as the "people's commissars"...

Budgie said...

This is an anti-whitewash. I am fully prepared to accept that some police are bent, some are thugs, some are liars, some are psychopaths, some are members of secretive organisations, and some are any combination of those.

But the fans innocent? Maybe most were. But I remember having to cross the street in fear to escape drunken thugs who were football fans. I worked with a lout who killed another fan (and went to jail for it, but only for a couple of years). Effectively the centre of town was a no-go area with thrown toilet rolls, cans and stones; pissing in the street; and intimidation. I used to play football as a kid but what was rife in the 1970s and 1980s made me loathe the ghastly game.

It appears that football has cleaned up its act in the last couple of decades, but 30-40 years ago a match was an excuse for a drunken brawl. Thank God for the police back then. Maybe, back then, most of the police were decent people pissed off with being permanently on the firing line.

Cuffleyburgers said...

The fans were caged because at the time there was a huge problem of violence among fans. And liverpool were by no means exempt. Heysel?

So yes, I am shocked and even slightly surprised by teh extent of the rozzers' lying and incompetence, but hey this is the south yorks force - probably teh worst in the country.

Raedwald said...

Thanks for all the good sense and Budgie and Steve I think you're right; not all coppers, not even most coppers, are dodgy when acting individually. But the split between the police and the rest of us has made them almost a race apart - and it's natural that when threatened they close-up and care more for their mutual welfare than for truth, justice or the abstract benisons.

There's two ways to tackle it; heal the split between us and them and bring control back from the Home Office to ultra-local democratic and localist authority, on truly Peelean principles. Or allow the Home Secretary to impose layer upon layer of standards, disciplinary, regulatory bodies, policing-the-police functions and powers to manage any aberrant behaviour in a committed display of control freakery.

You all know which way it's going.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I note Andy Burnham holding forth in the HoC today - spouting much that the people of Staffordshire might feel about him...

While the finger is pointed at S.Yorks plod hierarchy I feel it's relevant to point out that the same force led the charge in ignoring Islamist nutters recruiting from the disaffected underachievers across the mill towns of the area.

Thud said...

My fellow scousers are guilty of many things but thank god for the sentimental maudlin streak that animates the city, 27 years is a long time to fight,the families did us all a favour showing just what can be done to those that would ignore us.

Mike Spilligan said...

My thoughts align with much of your post but have a great deal of sympathy for Budgie's view.
I don't personally know of any major cover-ups, other than those now well-publicised ones, but I have been "caught" 4 times with Road Traffic violations (none of which proceeded to a charge) and one of which still rankles with me.
BUT: remember that the verdict was on a 7 to 2 majority. There must have been good reasons why the 2 disagreed and especially so as they would have felt under pressure from the other 7 - or maybe (yes, my speculation) the 5 adamant ones and the other 2 who gave in easily.
Also: I worked in a factory in Liverpool for 3 years in the mid-80s and there were repeated occasions when some of the workers* would boast that they got into all Div'n 1 (as was) grounds without paying. Arrive early; get tanked-up; charge the weakest gate with Dutch courage 5 minutes before the start. Always works!
*Workers? A considerable proportion were always looking for ways to get time off - the slightest grounds; nearly always helped by the on-site union rep. (The dog ate my homework wasn't in it.) The majority were not like that but (as the Russians say) a spoonful of tar ruins a barrel of honey.
What I suspect happened was that the police at that time - one of much hooliganism - were prepared to take a strong line - to "draw a line in the sand"; whatever that took - with tragic consequences, especially as the criminal few got off scot-free and were probably not directly involved in any of the deaths.

Thud said...

spilligan, same old shite, for once the truth got out and your little stories are rather sad in the light of events, of course in no other city did union reps act like the reputed ones in Liverpool? Never mind you just continue to spout the party line, others are at least decent enough to own up to believing the lies.

English Pensioner said...

The real question has never been answered. "Why was the ground chosen for the match when it had been declared unsuitable on a previous occasion and no changes had been made?"
The FA, the club, the local authorities etc should all share the blame; in spite of the police lies, they were largely caught in a situation not of their making and probably acted for the best in the light of the information that they had available at the time.
As a friend of mine, a commercial pilot says, it something goes wrong with the aircraft you have a few seconds to decide what to do. After the crash, the experts can spend years analysing your action and the remains of the aircraft to reach a conclusion as to what should have been done.
By all accounts there was a huge crush outside the stadium, if the gates hadn't been opened, would people have been killed outside in the crush? Who knows.

Mike Spilligan said...

@Thud: Thank you for your thoughtful riposte, so elegantly expressed (LOL). You clearly did not read my comment in full or, at least did not understand it. I will not comment further now.
By the way, Raedwald, to clarify part of my first comment, I came across police lying and covering-up (through others) back in the late 60s or early 70s - but it was difficult to get anyone to believe that - we had been brought up with the mantra that if we were in any trouble we should trust a policeman and no one else.

Anonymous said...

Blame the police and football authorities and 'them':

Lest we forget, who caused this.

Hillsborough, Hell on Earth.

The 1987 semi-final, played on Sunday, April 12, was the first to be staged at Hillsborough in fully six years. The Football Association had opted for other venues after an incident in 1981 where 38 Tottenham Hotspur fans were injured on the Leppings Lane terrace during a last-four tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Supporters complained of chaos outside the ground as they tried to get through a limited number of turnstiles in time for the start of the match. During the game, some suffered broken arms and another a broken leg.

South Yorkshire Police claimed the six-year gap between semi-finals at Hillsborough was down to two reasons: the fact that clubs involved at that stage of the FA Cup were not located close to Sheffield and complaints from local residents about those matches. The Hillsborough Independent Panel, however, concluded in 2012 that “clearly the 1981 incident and the disputes that followed had a bearing on this decision.”

In 1981, the lower tier of Leppings Lane was an open terrace. By the time of Leeds’ visit in 1987, and as a result of changes supposedly intended to improve the handling of crowds, fences had been installed, separating the terrace into separate pens. Leeds were allocated that area of the stadium while Coventry took the Kop and the Football Association suspended its all-ticket policy on United’s away fixtures to allow for open sale. The ground opened at 9.30am for a 12.15pm kick-off but, as happened in 1981, the start was delayed by Mole for 15 minutes with thousands of fans still to clear the turnstiles.
Lessons very clearly were NOT LEARNT

'let he who is without sin, cast the first stone'

No one asked if, should parents have allowed very young kids to go to such a big game knowing the malodorous and fearsome reputation of some scouse fans?

Allowing unaccompanied young kids to attend a match, in a ground of and recent atrocious safety record and where incidents aplenty had occurred? Hillsborough, it was thus endowed with, a history of mal administration and malfeasance running amok. Why indeed.

Boggart Blogger said...

It's been obvious from very early on the police were involved in a cover up. It's what organisations do when things go badly wrong, whether they are government or business organisations.

To exonerate 'the fans' completely however is an anti - cover up. First of all criticisms of the fans behaviour, such as those voiced by the late Brian Clough were spun by Liverpool political figures and much of the media as if they accused the fans who died and were injured were somehow to blame. In fact those people who were killed or injured or were simply subjected to a terrifying experience were well behaved people who had bought their tickets and gone into the ground in an orderly way. There was no suggestion they were responsible in any way for the crowd problems.

In the past few days we've been treated to a parade of whining voices trying to claim there were no drunken people in the crowd. I don't believe that, if its true then it was the first big match crowd ever where nobody arrived the worse for drink.

We all saw the television news coverage of Liverpool fans who had arrived without tickets trying to smash down one of the large exit gates, presumably to get into the ground free, so it cannot honestly be said fans were not in any way responsible. The human battering ram trick, which I only saw on TV that day but witnessed in person at Old Trafford, Man. City's old ground, Maine Road, Bolton's Burnden Park, and Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park, was a speciality of Liverpool and Everton fans at the time. It may have been employed elswhere, most of the big teams in the 1970s and 80s had their share of hooligans.

As for the notion currently being peddled by the media that Liverpool football fans at the time were angels, two words, Heysel Stadium

Can anyone really blame the cops (whatever we might think of them and I'm no fan) for panicking on seeing that nightmare unfolding? Unfortunately in panic, the worst possible decision, to open the gate, was made. It's perhaps worth pointing out for the sake of perspective that in the USA and in most of Europe, if sports fans behaved in that way and did not disperse when the police told them to, the cops would have started shooting.

If there is any culpability, as has been said elsewhere in the threat, it must lie with the Football Association because they chose to play a very big match where passions were bound to be high, at a dilapidated ground in an unsuitable location.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with those who, while apportioning due blame to the authorities concerned, think that you can't ignore the behaviour of those fans who forced gates to be opened in the first place.

No one is blaming the fans who were killed and injured, but if some weren't shoving at the back - albeit not knowing the situation at the front - there wouldn't have been a problem.

It's difficult to think of any other sporting or cultural event which would have caused the same problems in the UK at the time (absent of a disaster like a fire causing blind panic).

There are two main dishonest arguments used to shut down discussion. One is that any blaming of any fans is snobbishly kicking the working class (when no one thinks that any other working class activities would have generated the same tragedy) and the other is to conflate blaming of some fans with blaming the dead (when the fans who should bear some blame were nowhere near those who died).

Span Ows said...

Boggart, Anon (13:46) and Spilligan, well done for braving the possible abuse and posting at least some of the facts of the time. When you look at the specific times that the inquiry(s) looked at you see also how much of the real story is ignored (intentionally). The Police are by no means 'innocent' but this is most definitely a white-wash, no matter what Thud and others think or say.

Boggart hits the nail on the head by mentioning the dead and injured: any criticism of Liverpool fans immediately gets twisted into saying it was the deads' fault: I don't think anyone, ever, has blamed them.

G. Tingey said...

I'm reminded of the similar "false narrative" in Bristol, where idiot cops deliberately targeted a completely innocent man, Lionel Jefferies, because they couldn't cope with an "Intellectual".
The moronic press scum bought that one too.
And the Lawrence case, where Plod would rather be thought "institutionally racist" rather than admit being BENT - on the take from the local crooks who did the murder ....