Yesterday's "apology" reemphasises why you should never buy The S*n

Posted by john_mac on July 7, 2004, 08:22:56 PM

At about 6 o’clock yesterday evening I got a call from Robbie (Mottman) telling me that The S*n were about to publish an apology. The news left me a bit dumbstruck; I told Robbie I’d get back to him once I had a think about it. Once I had done this I spoke to a couple of other members of the HJC and discussed what we thought was going on, and what had caused such a dramatic change of heart. It really did not stack up.

Was it the success of the boycott? Was it that they had become fed up of their feeble attempts to increase circulation in the area? Was it the Rooney influence? Was it a reaction to continued opposition in the area? I suppose that I thought the Rooney influence had been the straw that had finally broken the camel’s back, seeing Evertonians turn on their modern day hero as a result of his association with this vile rag.

The people of Liverpool have long lived with the reality of negative press coverage but the attacks made on Liverpool fans on 19th April 1989 went far beyond any of their predecessors. Media attacks on the City were frequent, and those made on the Militant local authority of the mid-80s were too numerous to mention. At this time football in general and football fans in particular were “out of vogue” and were also seen as ‘fair game’ for the nation’s press attacks. It is interesting that Liverpool as a City, and football fans as a group, had also been continuously attacked by successive Tory governments during the 1980s.

Hillsborough was the worst day of my life. Sat in the North Stand I saw youngsters trying to administer the kiss of life to dying men, women and children, whilst police officers stood idly by. The South Yorkshire Police stood in front of the North Stand in case there were a pitch invasion, whilst youngsters died on advertising hoardings behind them. An ambulance that entered onto the pitch at the Kop end of the ground was denied access to the Liverpool fans by those self same officers.

The aftermath of the disaster is well documented - incompetent police, an inadequate antiquated football ground, a ‘national’ attitude which saw fit to treat successive generations as football fans as animals and a Football Association which saw fit to align itself with a cover up rather than represent the interests of fans. At the heart of this attempted cover up was the nation’s press.

The police immediately realised that their organisation was inadequate, and drew together the press to perpetuate their lies and conspiracy. On the afternoon of the disaster the BBC reported that a door had been broken down by Liverpool fans. Graham Kelly of the FA inferred that the police had not ordered the gates to be opened on Radio 2. The secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club reported that “at 2.50 there was a surge of Liverpool fans at The Leppings Lane end of the ground”. The seeds for the cover-up were sewn as Liverpool fans lay on the turf dying and dead.

As we turned up to pay our respects to the dead at Anfield over the following days, the nation’s free press assembled to gather evidence against us. The fact that people had died because they were seen as potential criminals rather than citizens by the country's police forces was never seriously examined. The myth of ticketless fans storming a gate continued to be perpetuated by the bloodhounds in league with the South Yorkshire onstabulary.

The S*n was not alone in its condemnation of Liverpool but its headlines do need to be considered:



These was the actions of an organisation trying to rewrite history, hand in hand with the British authorities. That one headline still perpetuates, in parts of this country, the myth that The Hillsborough Disaster occurred as a result of drunken football hooligans and not as a result of inadequate policing, a senile FA and a “penny pinching” football club. It was this perpetuation of the lies and propaganda of the authorities which made the lives of the families and survivors all the more unbearable.

It has been said that The S*n was not alone in its condemnation of Liverpool fans, but it must emphasised that they were by far the most vocally vehement in their condemnation. Furthermore, they stood alone in their defiance of the published findings of the Justice Taylor Report and their continued condemnation of Liverpool fans, and their refusal to publish a retraction of their original article. To point to half hearted admissions of impropriety (imposed by the Press Commission) as heartfelt apologies I find both  offensive to the intelligence Liverpool fans, and completely disrespectful to the trauma faced by the bereaved families.

The article in question was not a decision taken in isolation by McKenzie, but no doubt he was duly rewarded for taking the blame for it being so. It was part of the establishment cover up of the facts of Hillsborough. The S*n did, however, go far, far further in their condemnation of Liverpool fans and their perpetuation of the establishment lies. Editorial decisions are not taken in isolation by any organisation, and the likely affects of such an article would have been weighed up with pros and cons. The fact is though that The S*n vastly underestimated the response of the people of Merseyside, and they further underestimated the longevity of the opposition to their vile rag.

The boycott of the rag was not organised by the HJC, the HFSG, LFC or any organisation. It was an instanteous reaction from the people of Liverpool. The grieving people of Liverpool awoke that morning to the most disgusting headlines imaginable. The boycott belongs to these people, reds and blues alike, and the boycott soon spread to reds and other football fans the length and breadth of the country.

The thing which hit the S*n hardest, and still continues to hit home, is the fact that up to 200,000 Merseyside people boycotted this once popular rag overnight. This is why they have made continuous attempts to try to recover part of its once vast circulation on Merseyside. The Souness episode, the 20p advertisements and their attempted dealings with LFC, as well as the recent episode with Peter Kilfoyle, a local MP, highlight how desperate they are to win back some of their circulation in the Merseyside area. They have failed over the past fifteen years in their attempts to influence Liverpool fans, so it becomes increasingly clear that the Rooney episode is clear “divide and conquer” tactics.

Devoting more column inches to Liverpool FC than any other national newspaper had failed so the new tactic was drawn up - a new national hero, dressed in blue but based on Merseyside, an opportunity too good to miss. I don’t wear the stories coming out of the Rooney camp; in any case his advisers should have known better, given that one Kenny Dalglish is an employee of his agents. This really should have been handled far better and with far more dignity.

In exactly the same manner as it was in the dark days following the disaster, the reaction of the Everton fans to Rooney’s decision to sell his story to this rag was exemplary. In fact I would even go as far as they have been quicker to condemn him than many reds were when Souness acted in a similar manner.

I have no doubt that as proprietor of the rag and part of the establishment, Rupert Murdoch was party to the decision to run this story. Make no mistake the boycott of The S*n hits Murdoch. Some people ask shouldn't we boycott all of Murdoch's media interests? The fact is that other arms of his media empire did not attack Liverpool fans in the same way as The S*n, so to extend the boycot to these organisations would be seen as unfair. To extend the boycott only serves to dilute it and weaken its effectiveness.

At about 9pm Sheila Coleman from the HJC called me to confirm that the features editor of the S*n had been in touch. He had started by declaring that the apology would be the front page lead of the paper, a decision obviously quickly reversed. He then went on to share the content of the apology; started as such and then running into a defence of themselves and Mr Rooney, before moving onto an attack on their perceived rivals and a thinly veiled attack on the people of the City of Liverpool. After the call I felt a bit down as I shared the information with others. I don’t really know why, I had no reason to expect anything else from these lying bastards.

So yesterday evening I found many questions racing through my head. Would this be a breakthrough that has considerable influence towards the road for justice? I should have known better. How could a major conspirator in the fight against justice expose the establishment conspiracy? They could not, they have continued to treat the people of the City of Liverpool with contempt.

The opening few lines of the article appears to constitute an apology, but even in there is the thinly conceiled lie that “We gladly say sorry again today: fully, openly, honestly and without reservation.” Expounding the myth that they had apologised for their actions.

Then comes their attack on you and me “Sadly, for some people in the city of Liverpool, forgetting — never mind forgiving — is impossible.” I can’t forgive them and I won’t forget them. Why should I?

For many years the various editorial and reporting regimes have been very quick to distance themselves from the actions of their predecessors fifteen years ago. Perhaps the one good thing to come out of this incident is that they have illustrated to all that this is as much of a myth and a lie as the rest of their actions. They have confirmed their true colours and yet again taken the opportunity to portray the people and football fans of Merseyside as mindless hooligans, hell bent on trouble.

The S*n interviewed bereaved parents as well as members of both the HJC and HFSG yet chose not to use any of the comments. They have confirmed that the mindset of their predecessors remains alive and well in their newsroom.

To add insult to the numerous injuries that have been compounded over fifteen years these ignorant bastards then finish their propaganda exercise with an amazing line: “It’s time to move on”. The press have created a national hero, the minority who simply cannot move on in their own small minded bigotry have vilified that hero.

How ironic that this rag that revels in nationalist bigotry tells us that fifteen years is longer than either world war, as though they never make any reference to these matters. The same rag that recently chose to illustrate Marc Vivien Foe’s dead body on its front pages. I simply cannot believe that they have the nerve to criticise us for being unable to forget their actions when they choose to compound them in such a manner. It truly is beyond comprehension or belief.
Anybody who considers buying this rag has no respect for the treatment they gave to Liverpool fans and the families of the bereaved. To portray the actions of this organisation as that of an individual, is naïve at best, conspiratorial at worst. Those who feel that we should forgive and forget should read Anne Williams' book, and how her fight for her dead son’s rights have been obstructed at every turn by the authorities. Those who wish to know how the families of the bereaved feel about this rag should attend a HJC meeting on a Monday evening in Oakfield Road, and speak to some of the families - you will be left in no doubt of their opinions.

In conclusion, you should think of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, their families and many survivors whose quest for Justice has been denied by the authorities and how The S*n as an organisation set out to deliberately mislead the British public into the belief that we are drunken yobs who pissed on and robbed our own, beat up and spat on the Yorkshire police.

The only language that The S*n understands is hard cash and the only way we can show that we will not and will never tolerate their treatment of us is to refuse to buy it! We are hurting them and we must continue to hurt them.


© john_mac 2004

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