Thursday, 13 September 2012
It's The Least David Cameron Can Do
It's taken 23 years for the real story of the Hillborough disaster and it's horrendous reading. The corrosive corruption revealed by the momumental cover-up undertaken by senior police and politicians has finally been proven but will the Hillsborough Independent Panel's assessment bring peace to those families who have fought long and hard for justice? In time perhaps but they have much more to do to ensure the guilty are put on trial.
Some police officers involved in the corruption are still serving yet not one had the courage to come forward and tell the truth.
The present South Yorkshire Chief Superintendent said his present day force is much changed from the 80s and now encourages all officers to come forward if they suspect corruption within the force. Maybe it has changed but not for the better. It's been known for years (since the Taylor report) that the then Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield created a 'blunder of the first magnitude'.
However, it's not just the police who have blatantly lied or withheld the truth all these years. The ambulance service, the FA (for not checking if the ground had a valid safety certificate, which it did not) and politicians who knew the truth but refused to release the documentation.
Sadly, the exposure of this corruption within the authorities doesn't surprise me. Neither does the tenacity with which the families did their utmost to expose the rot at the heart of it. As a society we have become much less altruistic than when I was a child.
Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, then 18, died that day complained that while the families had to find the money to pay their own costs through years of legal processes, the South Yorkshire police force, individual officers and other public bodies had theirs paid by the taxpayer.
Far too often in this country those who wish justice - and have good evidence - are denied it because they cannot afford legal fees and other expenses. The legal aid system has been so badly abused in the past it no longer helps those for which it was originally intended.
David Cameron apologised to the families in the House of Commons yesterday. The least he could do now is to order repayment of expenses to all the families involved. Unscrupulous sections of the media should also contribute.
The truth can be costly and the pain those families suffered can never be calculated in financial terms, but as a society we must ensure none of those who fought endlessly for the truth suffer more financial hardship. The lead must come from David Cameron and he should insist the Treasury refunds the families. That would be small recompense for the loss of loved ones, but one which we all should be insisting is done.