RAWK Statement on the Hillsborough Inquest Verdicts
Posted by RAWK Editor on April 26, 2016, 11:35:33 AM
RAWK Statement on the Hillsborough Inquest Verdicts
This is an initial statement on behalf of RAWK and its seasoned campaigners. We will now take some time to consider the verdicts in greater detail, and will have more to say in the coming hours, days and weeks.
Our thoughts remain with the families of the Ninety Six, and the many survivors of Hillsborough who have lived with the events of the day for decades.
For 27 years we fought for the truth to be told, and for 27 years the families of the victims and the survivors lived with the knowledge that the masses bought the lies handed down by people in positions of authority and which were propagated by sections of the media. Following the 2012 release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, the truth finally started to reach a wider audience. Two years ago, a new inquest began. At that time Liverpool fans and the media were effectively gagged from commenting publicly on the progress and nature of the inquests. Today, after 27 years, we have the results of an inquest of a scale that should have been undertaken in 1989, and today, after 2 years of silence, we can finally speak more openly about the inquest into the deaths and torment of our friends, families, and fellow Reds.
We should give our thanks to the men and women of the jury who gave up a huge portion of their lives to an inquest of unprecedented length and complexity, and likewise, we are extremely grateful to the lawyers for the families who were able to present the case with great dignity and determination. It should also be said that, while we are thankful to Lord Justice Goldring for his time on this case, we felt there were failings in his handling of the inquest. The inability to comment during the inquest itself was enormously frustrating and, in our view, damaging to the cause of justice. Whilst we understand the legal reasoning, a site like RAWK, with many thousands of Liverpool supporters as members, a number of whom are survivors of Hillsborough and whose emotional investment in these proceedings cannot be exaggerated, cannot risk being called in contempt through innocent discussion, and the instruction effectively acted as a gagging order on any individual's rights of legitimate commentary. We were also particularly aggrieved that South Yorkshire Police continued to restate lies, lies that they had already admitted to having told when the Hillsborough Independent Panel report came out. We also want to make clear our overwhelming disapproval at Question 7, which once again raised the prospect of survivors being held accountable to some degree for the deaths of the ninety-six. It is noted by way of example that from the outset the Inquest made it plainly clear that the ninety-six were not in any way legally accountable for their own deaths; it is impossible to see, from our perspective, how supporters who may have been in a similar position to those who passed away can be held accountable on this basis.
Rightfully, thankfully, the jury agreed. It is important to note that after the High Court quashed the original Inquests and ordered new ones to be carried out, it said that the new procedures should be "non-adversarial". It is difficult to align this order with the manner in which certain parties to the proceedings behaved in giving evidence and making submissions to the Inquest in a flagrantly adversarial and inflammatory manner.
The fact that the stance of the SYP has remained more or less unchanged, despite the extensive and objective manner in which their original conclusions as to causation have been refuted is disappointing. The Coroner refused to allow this information to be put before the jury, yet allowed the question of supporters' behaviour to be very publicly considered. Supporters were not afforded the opportunity to provide their own evidence or challenge that of the authorities, when there exists the prospect of a degree of blame being placed on supporters, appears clearly unjust. Thankfully, we have a positive outcome in spite of this. We are thankful that the process towards criminal prosecutions can now take place and that those we believe acted inappropriately at best, criminally at worst, should through due process be made to pay and account for their actions. This is truly in the public interest and the public should demand to know more and receive full visibility on the behaviour referred to.
RAWK would like to pay heartfelt tribute to the incredible Hillsborough campaigners who fought for so long to see this inquest happen. That begins with the families and survivors, and is a story that is marked by great courage, belief, tenacity, and a righteous desire to see justice done. This verdict is a testament to their belief. Many others have played a vital role behind the scenes over the years in gathering evidence, uncovering lies, and building the true picture of what happened on the 15th April 1989 and the weeks that followed. Spare a thought today for those people who have not lived to see this day.
We have our own RAWK users to thank too. All of you have maintained your dignity and silence during the inquests. Many of you have been involved in the fight for justice - as survivors, long standing Reds, proud Scousers and as Liverpool fans from around the world. You have played your part. RAWK was founded with the specific intention to educate fans about Hillsborough, and has had a longstanding involvement in the search for justice, raising funds for the HFSG, HFH & HJC, providing a support network for survivors, and acting as a focus and a platform for online campaigning during our fifteen years online. Many journalists have covered the Inquests with distinction, but Eleanor Barlow at the Liverpool Echo and David Conn at The Guardian deserve a special mention for their diligence and continuous coverage of the inquests.
Latterly, RAWK has provided a private forum for several dozen campaigners, journalists and amateur investigators to pick their way through the Hillsborough Independent Panel website, pore over the testimony at the inquests, and carry out original research online and at archives across the country. This work has been on an epic scale, carried out by a number of truly admirable, dedicated people who have given up vast amounts of their time to pursue the cause of Justice. Thousands of hours and thousands of pounds have been spent sourcing original material, researching organisations and individuals of interest. They have been able to provide feedback, information and corrections at the very highest level, and in so doing have uncovered invaluable evidence as to the conduct of SYP. We understand that further proceedings may be forthcoming on the basis of the above and we will be following all developments very closely.
Next, we want to see Justice. Justice delayed is justice denied, as the saying goes, but despite the delay it is justice we crave. Today marks the most significant step yet towards that. One day, we will be able to share the stories that our RAWK team have uncovered, tell the wider world about the people and the organisations that conspired against Liverpool fans, the individuals who poured shame upon the city, and brought so much unhappiness and turmoil into the lives of so many. For now, that information remains in the hands of those best placed to use to secure convictions and see justice served on those who sought to cover up their own faults and errors.
Today, we are vindicated, the truth has been told.
RAWK can provide contact details for Hillsborough Survivors and campaigners for interested media organisations. Please email RAWK.Editor@gmail.com
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