Sunday, 16 September 2012

An iron law

[The following are a few sentences from Martin Ivens’s column (behind the paywall) in today’s edition of The Sunday Times:]

The Hillsborough disaster not only brought out the worst in the police on duty in South Yorkshire that day in April 1989 but also establishment indifference. The families and friends of the 96 people who died have had to wait 23 years for the full truth to be told.

It is now confidently asserted by senior officers that the police have cleaned up their act: Hillsborough could never happen again. Are they right? The initial refusal to hold an inquiry into the killing by armed policemen on the London Underground of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, in 2005 shows some habits die hard. (...)

Lord Justice Taylor’s contemporary inquiry condemned a police “blunder of the first magnitude” and officers’ accounts, he said, “were close to deceitful”. Alas, that judgment only scratched the surface. The coroner’s inquest was a joke. Another official inquiry failed to reveal the extent of the cover-up. No criminal prosecutions were mounted despite newspaper revelations of police tampering with the evidence.

It took a bishop, aided by two investigative journalists, to bring the full truth to light last week where government-appointed judges had failed. There appears to be some iron law that it takes two decades for the Crown to redress grievous wrongs committed by its servants. The imprisonment of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six spring to mind.

[As does the imprisonment of Abdelbaset Megrahi.]


  1. Establishment cover-ups persist because they are cover-ups that protect the establishment, not just a particular government.

    In other words these cover-ups enjoy cross-party support because of a shared approach to major issues.

    Only when this cross-party consensus breaks or the zeitgeist changes can the truth emerge.

    The Lockerbie cover-up persists because of a Westminster consensus not to antagonise America by holding a public enquiry.

    In Scotland this consensus was partially broken by SNP back-benchers who managed to get the SCCRC report published.

    But the SNP Government are part of the consensus, because they too do not want to antagonise America.

    The Hillsborough cover-up persisted because there was a cross-party racist, ‘anti-racist’ agenda that led to the disaster.

    This agenda included treating working class football fans as cattle.

    Only a chronic lack of regard for their welfare could lead to concentration camp style fencing being erected at football grounds.

    The Police were guilty of falsely blaming the fans for the disaster, but were protected by the establishment, to forestall criticism of their own responsibility.

    The Hillsborough break-through came when Andy Burnham MP stood in the Labour leadership contest and broke the consensus by promising to ‘open the files’ on Hillsborough.

    Whether this ‘SCCRC moment’ leads on beyond criticism of the Police, or stalls like Lockerbie depends on whether the cross-party racist, ‘anti-racist’ agenda remains intact.

  2. The phrase "a police blunder of the first magnitude" resonated with me. In 1996 I pointed out to the authorities that the Police had made a "colossal blunder" in "eliminating" Heathrow.

    Indeed as far as I am aware no senior investigating officer even went to the primary crime scene and "eliminated" the brown samsonite seen by Bedford on the basis of cod logic and not by the only way it could have been eliminated by its physical recovery.

    It was the Lord Advocate's Deputy and Successor Andrew Hardie QC whose submission of this cod logic to the Fatal accident Enquiry committed the investigation and the Crown Office to a version of events that was fundamentally untrue.

    However to admit or to even accept the possibility that Heathrow was the point at which the primary suitcase was introduced would have changed everything. In particular jurisdiction would have been English not Scottish.

    p.s.I was very interested in a notice I saw recently in a shop front in Yatton, Somerset. It was asking if anybody was interested in a trip to Switzerland in April 1973 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Swiss Air Disaster one of Marwan Khreesat's earlier forays in the field of Aviation Terrorism.