Justice for the 96

Updated: May 10, 2020

Most of us can name the events that shaped the people we are, that made lasting impressions. For me, the miners’ strike of 1984-85 strongly shaped my views on class, power and politics, and the release of Nelson Mandela showed that struggle could be won and what was dismissed as impossible could be achieved.

As regular readers will know, because I’ve written about it in depth before, Hillsborough also made a lasting impression. That too did much to shape my views on power and politics, and yesterday’s news that the High Court has quashed the original inquest verdicts has reinforced my view that battles can be won.

There’s still a long way to go to really get to the bottom of what happened that day and to identify who was responsible. But this latest decision is a big step forward for the families who have been through so much – even refusing to collect the death certificates of their loved ones because of their disgust at the original verdict. Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge mentioned the “deliberate misinformation surrounding the disaster”. He also said that 58 of the 96 “definitely” or “probably” had the capacity to survive beyond the 3.15pm cut-off time imposed by the original inquest.

All those people died. Most could have survived. They were blamed for their own deaths. Their families were denied justice for nearly a quarter of a century. It is almost impossible to comprehend the enormity of it all. With new inquests, maybe the families can get some peace.

The truth, that infamous coupling in this circumstance, has been established, and it came from the families. Now perhaps they can get justice. It’s impossible to be happy about anything connected with such a tragic event. But yesterday felt like a day when something that mattered was achieved.


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