So it’s over. Bar the screaming. For that’s what survivors remember. Then the silence. The sobbing. And the endless accusations.
Families remember the heartbreak of watching Hillsborough’s horrors unfold on television, the fear as the clock ticked, the tears shed when relatives never came home.
A 23-year fight ended in complete and utter vindication for Liverpool fans this week. It was a triumph of the spirit for families who had fought to clear their name – and with dignity. Righteous anger. Not self righteous hypocrisy.
Forget the filthy smears of red top rag merchants who accused fans of looting bodies and urinating upon the dead. Their apologists can stick it where the Sun doesn’t shine.
Forget the snide comments directed at an entire city by a wannabe national Tory party leader.
Police distorted the truth. Most of us would call that a lie. A lie that has lived at the cost of those who died, and others who endured unfounded allegations for 23 years, four months and 28 days.
Politicians, shape shifters of blame, prefer to call it a distortion. Lies, damn lies, and distortions.
We know authorities close ranks if The Establishment is threatened. But it’s the absolute depths to which South Yorkshire Police officers sunk to stand up their claims which is the most gut-twisting element of this sorry saga. Taking blood from the dead to try to support “fans were drunk” claims. Checking criminal records of dead and living alike. Shame. Shame. Shame on them all.
We’re accustomed to self-interested back covering and buck passing from politicians. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing it in what passes for justice.
What upsets me, as a journalist, is how easily the lies... sorry distortions... were bought.
What incenses me as a Liverpudlian is that it would not have taken so long to learn the truth, had any other city been involved.
Can you see this scenario in the stockbroker belt? At a cricket or tennis match?
Most damning, we learn 41 of the 96 dead had the “potential to survive past 3.15pm” if the emergency response had been adequate.
The original flawed inquest opted for the crudely formed get-out clause – 3.15pm – which effectively meant the failings of emergency services after that time were not held to account.
Andy Burnham, a Labour leader in waiting if ever there was, calls it a “catalogue of negligence, appalling failure and sheer mendacity, a monumental cover-up and a sickening campaign of vilification against victims, grieving families, traumatised survivors and the city in shock”.
Now that’s saying it like it is. It’s the truth. And by God it hurts. For it’s worse than we ever thought.