7 June 1996
Hillsborough: Seven Years On
Stuart Waiton challenges the compensation payments given to some police
who were on duty at Hillsborough
People always say they remember where they were when President Kennedy was
shot or when Margaret Thatcher resigned. I don't remember either of those
occasions, but I do remember where I was on the day of the Hillsborough
disaster. I was at a friend's house with tears of rage in my eyes as I watched
the police push Liverpool supporters back into the hell from which they
were trying to escape. 95 people died that day, while the police brought
out the dogs and formed a line down the centre of the pitch to stop the
Liverpool 'hooligans' from fighting. Finally on Saturday night, when the
city of Liverpool was in mourning and the streets of the city were deadly
quiet, the Merseyside police made another contribution to the day's events,
by sending out extra patrols to keep the embittered community in order.
The police were not victims that day, but the instigators of the disaster.
The very fences that surrounded the ground at Hillsborough and stopped the
fans from escaping had originally been erected because of a Law and Order
panic about hooligans. This panic meant that by the end of the 1980s football
fans were being herded like cattle before and after matches, and were caged
like animals while watching their team play.
Then the Tories ranted about the 'yob class' at football matches. Today
they talk of a 'yob culture' that surrounds the game. Then they took away
people's civil liberties and eventually took away nearly a hundred people's
lives. Today no lives have been lost, but football fans are losing what
few rights they have left as 10 000 police gear up for Euro 96. Already
we've had mug shots in Newcastle's local paper followed by dawn raids on
suspected hooligans' houses. The papers are filled with tales of 'potential'
violence and the police are tooling up on the back of another
It is a sick joke that members of this same police force can claim victim
status for their part in the Hillsborough 'disaster', and are now receiving
£1.2 million in compensation. Presumably the retired torturers of Chile
and South Africa will be next in the line claiming compensation for the
emotional distress of extracting information by force.
- See also Bhoys will be
bigots - Celtic fan Alec Campbell gives the red card to a campaign to
drive sectarianism out of Glasgow football
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