The "Despicable Untruths" smeared by Murdoch's UK tabloid in 1989 about the Hillsborough disaster
The 1989 Hillsborough tragedy in Sheffield, Yorkshire in the north of England in which 96 fans of Liverpool Football Club died after being crushed to death at a soccer game has finally, belatedly and definitively been laid solely at the hands of those responsible. The local police. Responsible both for the tragic, avoidable deaths in the first place. And for the sickening 23 years of victim-blaming and cover-up that followed.
But the police didn't act alone in blaming the victims and perpetrating a cynical and hurtful cover-up.
Prime Minister David Cameron -- of whom I am not a fan -- gave a very gracious full apology on behalf of the British nation for what he called the "double injustice" of the appalling tragedy and the foul cover-up by the police, government and some media (i.e. Murdoch media) that blamed the victims for their own deaths.
The fans were crushed to death because of failures in crowd management that were ultimately the responsibility of the local police. Not content with their culpability in the death of 96 individuals, the police chiefs then pro-actively covered up their felony and fabricated a narrative that the victims were responsible their own deaths.
Despicable lies that were trumpeted as "The Truth" by Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun. And also spread by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who sanctioned her press lackey Bernard Ingham to publicly decry the dead victims as a "tanked-up mob" (i.e. a mob fueled by alcohol). Calumnies that have now been proven to be -- in the words of the official report -- "despicable untruths".
Just disclosed official government documents from the time of the release of the initial (1990) report on the tragedy reveal that Thatcher expressed her concern that the "broad thrust" of that first report constituted a "devastating criticism of the police." Not an acceptable narrative for the "law 'n' order" uber-conservative who depended on the police to inflict her policies of union-busting and poll-taxing on the British people.
This article isn't to recount the story of the tragedy and the 23-year history of cover-up -- which is very ably documented elsewhere on the internet. But to flag the names of some of the most loathsome people in this dreadful saga. And to call for them to be belatedly held to account.
• Rupert Murdoch. His UK tabloid The Sun reflected the worst instincts of Murdoch by publishing a front-page story that it KNEW was not substantiated -- that accused Liverpool soccer supporters of being the cause of the disaster and (among other things) of pick-pocketing the dead and urinating on the police who were trying to save victims. All demonstrable LIES.
• Kelvin MacKenzie. Murdoch's hand-picked puppet editor of The Sun (1981-1994) at the time of the 1989 tragedy. He exhorted one of his journalists to write the vilest story possible then ran it under a massive front-page headline "THE TRUTH." He has never made a sincere apology for what he knows were demonstrable LIES. He made one apology in 2004 and then publicly retracted it on a BBC TV show saying that he had only apologized because he was told to do so by Rupert Murdoch. In 2006 he added: "All I did wrong was tell the truth ... I was not sorry then and I'm not sorry now because we told the truth.""
• Harry Arnold. The "journalist" on The Sun who wrote the offending story. He claimed that editor Kelvin MacKenzie had encouraged him to write the story and he blamed the editor for the headline and presentation. He also unwittingly echoed Fox News' disingenuous slogan when he recently described his 1989 story as being "balanced and fair" (sic).
• Margaret Thatcher. British Prime Minister. On Monday April 16th 1989 -- just one day after the disaster -- records reveal that she huddled with the police chief for the area (Peter Wright -- Chief Constable of South Yorkshire), her media operative Bernard Ingham and her cabinet member for judicial matters (Douglas Hurd -- Home Secretary). At that meeting it was agreed to blame the Liverpool soccer supporters for the tragedy and exonerate the police.
• Peter Wright. Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police. Faced with the knowledge that it was his police department that had monumentally screwed-up and been responsible for the death of 96 innocent victims -- his instant response was to fabricate a narrative that the 96 victims had caused their own deaths.
The new official report has produced irrefutable evidence that no less than 164 statements made by policemen on duty that day were significantly amended as part of the cover-up and 116 of them had negative comments about the policing operation explicitly removed. Those reports were doctored to reflect the cover-up narrative sanctioned at the day-after meeting of Wright and Thatcher.
And what of the reprehensible reptiles who maligned the dead and who smeared an entire city?
These are not the only guilty parties -- but one has to start somewhere...
• Margaret Thatcher still has her fancy title: The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher LG OM PC FRS. She still draws a handsome government pension.
• Douglas Hurd is now: Baron Hurd of Westwell, CH, CBE, PC. He still draws a handsome government pension.
• Bernard Ingham is now a knight of the realm - Sir Bernard Ingham. He still draws a handsome government pension.
• Peter Wright retired as Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. He died last year without any official blemish on his character. His family still draws a handsome police pension arising from his now-tarnished service.
• Kelvin MacKenzie is no longer editor of The Sun. He still draws a handsome pension as a former employee of News International.
• Rupert Murdoch is still a citizen of the United States of America -- after undergoing a naturalization process that is designed to exclude anyone who is not "a person of good moral character"...
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