The Inquests, the documentary and the book

Thank you for visiting www.thehillsboroughdisasterdocumentary.com

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The new inquests into the deaths of the 96 victims of Hillsborough have now begun, and ahead of that process the Attorney General has released advice about what organisations or individuals can and can’t say at this time. For the course of justice to run its course, it is important that the jury only hear the evidence presented in court, and therefore potentially prejudicial comments have been advised against. Contempt of court is one of the charge that could be brought against anybody who wilfully breaches this advice, so you will forgive my caution on this matter.

With the 25th anniversary just days away, and the resulting media interest peaked, the number of visits and comments to this site has grown sharply. If I do not accept your comment for publication at this time then please bear in mind the above, and realise that I am not seeking to censor your opinions.

My book, Hillsborough in their own words, is available to pre-order on Amazon but it will not be released until after the inquests. This was a decision taken by the publisher in light of the Attorney General’s statement before the inquests. Incidentally, I will be donating 100% of the royalties that I receive from this book to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

I will accept all comments once the inquests have finished, but please understand that if I am in any doubt that your comments could be seen as being in contempt of court, and I am in no way a legal expert, I have to err on the side of caution and not publish.

You can read the advice from the Attorney General here.

 

 

 

 

Hillsborough – From Disaster to Deceit (Part two)

This is part two of a three part documentary. Please leave your comments by replying to this post once you’ve watched it!

Part one is available here – http://thehillsboroughdisasterdocumentary.com/2012/09/13/hillsborough-heading-for-disaster-part-one/

Follow me @HillsboroughDoc for news on the release of part two.

Like the Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hillsborough-Disaster-Documentary/283632178348441

My personal wish list on the eve of the 12th September 2012

The Hillsborough Independent Panel are due to report to the families tomorrow, and here is my personal list of things I would like to happen as a result.

1. I would like the panel to have found something massive within those papers, that will make all of the nations media go berserk! It would obviously have to be something massive for the media to go as large as they did in the aftermath of the tragedy, but the only way the truth will reach everyone, is if it receives similar a similar level of coverage.

2. I would like the information to prompt The S*n to make a front page apology, saying “We lied” just as Kenny Dalglish suggested on or around Wednesday 18th April 1989.

3. I would like some kind of legal action to be taken against Duckenfield. I can forgive mistakes, they happen, and sometimes tragedy follows them. What I will never forgive is his ‘disgraceful lies’  as they were too hurtful & did too much damage, simply because he was afraid to face the consequences of his actions. At the very least I would like to know if he suffers at all from guilt, nightmares or PTSD as a result of that day, like all of the victims do.

4. In the tradition of saving the best until last, finally, I would like for those who still feel so much pain and anger to get some sort of closure. If the legacy of this panel was that troubled souls wee able to find some peace, then their work would have been the most noble and worthwhile work imaginable.

What are your personal wishes ahead of the report? Make a comment below, so it will last on this blog forever.

Why me, why now and what for?

Why me, why now & what for?

I put this page together in response to the most common questions I am asked on Twitter. It’s impossible to answer the questions properly with only 140 characters so here were are!

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me either in the comments box below or at mike_nicholson@hotmail.co.uk

If you are not following me on Twitter, please do so @HillsboroughDoc

Why me?

I am a life-long Liverpool fan with a northern soul, but a southern ass! I started going to Liverpool away games in London in the late 80’s and my friend actually wrote the club to enquire after tickets for the semi-final on 15th April 1989. We hadn’t even been to Anfield at that point, so it was a ridiculous request in hindsight, but it turned out to be some of the very best bad luck I’ve ever had.

I used to manage the video advertising business for a national, quality newspaper website. That is where I developed my interest in video production. I used to write about Hillsborough on forums, under the name RedMike86, but when I started to learn about online video I knew I had an opportunity to create something truthful, that would be available for future generations.

Hillsborough affected me, as I feel that Liverpool fans are one big family. It makes be so angry when I think of the cover-up and lies told by the police & media, and I now have the ability, in some small way, to help educate some people about the real truth of Hillsborough.

Where will it be shown?

It will be on this blog first, and I will tweet the link when its uploaded. Follow me on @hillsboroughdoc if you’re not already for updates. Using the power of online video and social media, I intend to generate a sizeable audience over many, many years. I have also had offers of support from the media, which I hope will also generate a significant audience.

Why now?

I only developed a passion for video, and I could only afford to buy the equipment in the last three years, so it is a lucky coincidence that my ability to produce the documentary coincided with the Hillsborough Independent panel reporting on September 12th. This report will generate press interest, which will intern bring Hillsborough to the front of the public’s mind. I hope to use that renewed interest, via Google, to help people find my documentary online.

I am already seeing a spike in traffic that is coming from search engines, and after the 12th September I expect that to sky-rocket, so it is a good time to release the documentary.

Who have I spoken to?

The story will be told primarily by those who were there that day, but I also intent to include the bereaved families, leading experts in their field, fans who had experiences of Hillsborough’s Leppings Lane previously and of course the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough organisations.

I have contacted all three of the previously mentioned organisations, and I hope to be able to get interviews from all three.

What do I hope to achieve?

When a TV production company produces a program, it is broadcast, shown for a limited time online and then locked away. There are rights issues, and the TV companies tend to keep the programming out of the public domain as a result. It is my intention to produce something factual & compelling that can be available to anybody in the world, at any time and forever. I like the idea that future generations will be able to find my documentary, and will learn the real truth from those who know best.

Who’s paying?

I purposely set out to create this on my own, and I have not and will not accept a penny for the finished documentary. I’m funding the costs myself, because I want it to be pure and true, and money has a way of changing that vision. It will be free to all, forever, I promise you that.

Welcome

Thank you for visiting this blog, which chronicles the making of the 2012 documentary into the Hillsborough Disaster. Part one of this three-part documentary is due to be released shortly after 12th September 2012, after the Hillsborough Independent panel have submitted their report to the families.

This documentary sets out to tell the story leading up to the 15th April 1989, the events at the Hillsborough stadium on April 15th 1989, and finally the days, weeks, months and years afterwards.

If you can help in any way, please contact me at mike_nicholson@hotmail.co.uk

Hillsborough: Richie Greaves – A survivor’s story

Richie went through the tunnel, and went right into pen three at about 2.45pm.

Pen three is where most of the victims lost their lives, and where the crush barrier made from steel & concrete buckled under the sheer weight of people in that area. He maintains to this day, that had his mate Ian not insisted that they move to the far right of that pen, then he may not have been so lucky. Liverpool fans in pen two put their clasped hands through the lateral fence, and allowed those trapped in pen three to use them to get a leg-up, and to climb away from danger into the sparsely populated wing pens.

Most of the interview will be held back for the documentary, but here is a small clip:

The real truth about what happened at Hillsborough

In 1989, on Saturday 15th April, Liverpool FC were due to play Nottingham Forest in the semi-final of the F.A. Cup.

In 1988, the same teams played in the same round of the same Cup and at the same venue; The Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, home to Sheffield Wednesday FC.

In 1988, Liverpool FC complained to the Football Association that, despite having a far larger average support than Nottingham Forest, they had been allocated the far smaller Leppings Lane end of the ground rather than the much larger Kop end. The reason given for this decision was due to the direction from which the two sets of supporters would have arrived from,  and according to the South Yorkshire Police it was easier to segregate the opposing fans on that basis.

Chief Inspector Brian Mole , a match commander with significant experience of policing big matches at Hillsborough presided over the policing of the 1988 semi-final. Although there were complaints from Liverpool supporters of over-crowding in the central Leppings Lane pens, the match in 1988 passed without serious incident.

The semi-final in 1989 once again saw Liverpool drawn against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough with Liverpool allocated the smaller end of the ground. Liverpool FC complained and once more their concerns fell on deaf ears. So the date was set. Saturday 15th April 1989, Liverpool would play Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Planning for this huge match started in earnest, and Chief Inspector Brian Mole dusted down the successful operation order from the year before and started putting plans in place. However he was removed from his position just a few short weeks before the semi-final was due to take place and Chief Inspector David Duckenfield, an officer with no experience of policing a match of this size, was promoted in his place.

The now Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police, Meredydd Hughes, admitted to the Guardian’s David Conn in a 2009 interview that this was “the wrong decision”. The first of many mistakes had been made.

In 1988, under the watchful eye of the experienced Brian Mole, the South Yorkshire Police had set barricades across the road leading to the Leppings Lane turnstiles. These roadblocks were primarily to stop ticketless fans getting to the area outside the turnstiles, an area that had been constantly problematic on big match days as the number of people that could arrive in the courtyard outside the turnstiles was far larger than could be safely admitted through them.

As Prof. Keith Still, an expert of over 20 years in Crowd Dynamics told me when I interviewed him for the forthcoming documentary – from a crowd planning point of view the Leppings Lane end had “a high risk of failure by design”. In essence, the Leppings Lane concourse area outside the turnstiles allowed far more people to arrive than the turnstiles could admit.

Above: Video clip of Professor Keith Still. Full interview to be used in the documentary.

In 1989, the rookie match commander decided against these barricades. This was the second mistake. The South Yorkshire Police now had no way of controlling the flow of fans towards the problematic Leppings Lane turnstiles. As a result, more and more people arrived and entered the courtyard outside the turnstiles, but the decrepit and malfunctioning turnstiles could not (even on a good day) admit the growing numbers safely. The crowd outside started to grow at around 2.30pm, a full 15 minutes before the official match ticket stated that supporters were to be in the ground. This in itself dispels the myth that Liverpool fans turned up late.

Once supporters had entered the courtyard outside the turnstiles, the sheer weight of numbers arriving behind them meant that they couldn’t exit the crowd. As everyone individually shuffled forward eager to get in before kick-off, the crowd started to compact and a vice-like crush developed. There were shouts and screams from scared people who were struggling to breathe. The turnstiles themselves were set into a brick wall, and the people at the front were being crushed against that wall. The police had lost control, and there was now a clear & present danger that somebody could be seriously hurt, or worse. Fans continued to arrive at the back of the throng – in good spirits and unaware of the problems at the front of the crowd.

Outside the turnstile area was in a desperate state, and inside viewing via CCTV cameras, the rookie match commander David Duckenfield looked on.

In those days, fans were filed into a ground via tiny turnstiles to allow for tickets to be checked. Fans then exited via huge metal exit gates. As the final whistle approached, stewards would open these gates to allow people out quickly. These gates were never designed to allow entry to a ground, but the situation outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles had become so dangerous and the police had now lost control of the situation and started to consider the possibility.

Directly behind exit gate C was a tunnel that led to the central pens behind the goal, named pens 3 & 4. Above that tunnel was the single world ‘STANDING’. It was the only obvious way for fans entering the turnstiles to gain entry to the terraces and it is where most people headed. The tunnel was long and fans were taken down a 1 in 6 gradient slope in the semi-dark with just the bright light and green of the turf to head towards at the end. Quite literally, they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. As fans exited that tunnel they were right behind the gates allowing access to pens 3 & 4. In 1988, once these pens were full, the police would close off access and direct fans coming out of that tunnel would be led to the to the side pens. In 1989, this didn’t happen – resulting in fatal consequences.

Meanwhile inside the stadium, BBC commentators, fans in the other stands, players and officials all commentated (as kick off approached) that the central pens were jam packed full, and that the side pens (or wing pens) were not even half full. People were sat on the floor reading programmes in the wing pens with enough room to swing a cat, whereas the central pens were jammed solid, barely moving. They were unable to move because of the sheer density of the crowd.

David Duckenfield, in the police control box directly over-looking the Leppings Lane terrace had arguably the best view of anybody and also the CCTV cameras to pan and zoom at will. It was later noted by visitors to the police control box that the CCTV was so powerful that you ‘could see the colour of somebody’s eyes in the central pens’.

Duckenfield was now being asked by a senior colleague, who was policing the now desperate area outside the Leppings Lane, to open the exit gate to alleviate the crush.

Right in front of Duckenfield’s eyes was a mass of people virtually set in concrete in the central pens. The police box is elevated over the Leppings Lane terrace, and directly underneath Duckenfield’s feet was a sparsely populated pen.  For those that have seen Jimmy McGovern’s excellent docu-drama, it was from this pen that Trevor Hicks was screaming at the police on the steps of the control box to do something. He could see that the crowd was in distress, and his two daughters Victoria & Sarah were in those central pens. His wife, Jenny Hicks was in the North stand and was also extremely concerned as she looked at the central pens, However the police who had the duty of care, who had a bird’s eye view, did nothing.

The officer outside the ground, Marshall, radioed  to Duckenfield to “open the gate” and a little later shouted “if you don’t open the gate, somebody is going to get seriously hurt out here”. The final request came, almost pleadingly “are you going to open the gate?” After a pause, which must felt like a lifetime, Duckenfield gave the order to “Open the gates”.

The next mistake resulted in the loss of 96 lives, the injuries of hundreds more and the fallout impacted on thousands of friends and family members.

As already stated, in the 1988 semi-final police and stewards were stationed at the gates leading into the central pens to direct fans safely away to the wing pens once full. Had Duckenfield given the order to seal off the obviously over-full central pens when he gave the order to open the gates, then disaster would have been averted. But he didn’t, and hundreds more fans made their way into the dark tunnel, with a steep slope. As some started to lose their footing they were virtually stumbling into the stadium, like a human river, and straight onto the back of an already dangerously over-full terrace. The official government enquiry into the Hillsborough disaster, chaired by Lord Justice Taylor, and now known simply at The Taylor Report, later called the decision not to seal off the over-full central pens “a blunder of the first magnitude”.

Eventually, under the strain a crush barrier made from metal and steel buckled, gave way and a human wave of suffering went down, body over body.

At the front people were screaming at the police, positioned directly outside the fence between the pitch and the terrace, to open the gates at the front. The police ignored these requests even though people were dying in front of them. In fact at once point a gate sprang open under the immense pressure of bodies, and the officers on the track forced it closed again. It turned out that Duckenfield had given strict orders not to open the gates under any circumstances without his express permission, and at that point the police radios reportedly malfunctioned.

Eddie Spearitt was at the front with his son Adam. This is his testimony …

“The crush came … it wasn’t a surge. It was like a vice getting tighter and tighter and tighter. I turned Adam round to me. He was obviously in distress. There was a police officer, about five or six feet away and I started screaming. Adam had fainted and my words were ‘my lovely son is dying’ and begging him to help me and he didn’t do anything. I grabbed hold of Adam’s lapels and tried to lift him over the fence. It was ten feet or thereabouts with spikes coming in. I couldn’t lift him. So I started punching the fence in the hope I could knock it down. Right at the beginning, when I was begging that officer to open the gate I know I could have got Adam out. I know that because I was there’.

Adam Spearitt, 14, died at Hillsborough. Jenny Hicks and her husband, Trevor, who had been screaming at the police to help earlier, lost his two daughters Vicky (15) & Sarah (19).

96 lives were taken that day in total. Men, women and children. One as young as 10 years old died at a football match.

What happened next is almost more harrowing and disgraceful, but I will write a follow-up post to cover that in due course.

The 96 victims with the age at which they were taken:

  •  John Alfred Anderson (62)
  • Colin Mark Ashcroft (19)
  • James Gary Aspinall (18)
  • Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16)
  • Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron (67)
  • Simon Bell (17)
  • Barry Sidney Bennett (26)
  • David John Benson (22)
  • David William Birtle (22)
  • Tony Bland (22)
  • Paul David Brady (21)
  • Andrew Mark Brookes (26)
  • Carl Brown (18)
  • David Steven Brown (25)
  • Henry Thomas Burke (47)
  • Peter Andrew Burkett (24)
  • Paul William Carlile (19)
  • Raymond Thomas Chapman (50)
  • Gary Christopher Church (19)
  • Joseph Clark (29)
  • Paul Clark (18)
  • Gary Collins (22)
  • Stephen Paul Copoc (20)
  • Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23)
  • James Philip Delaney (19)
  • Christopher Barry Devonside (18)
  • Christopher Edwards (29)
  • Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34)
  • Thomas Steven Fox (21)
  • Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10)
  • Barry Glover (27)
  • Ian Thomas Glover (20)
  • Derrick George Godwin (24)
  • Roy Harry Hamilton (34)
  • Philip Hammond (14)
  • Eric Hankin (33)
  • Gary Harrison (27)
  • Stephen Francis Harrison (31)
  • Peter Andrew Harrison (15)
  • David Hawley (39)
  • James Robert Hennessy (29)
  • Paul Anthony Hewitson (26)
  • Carl Darren Hewitt (17)
  • Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16)
  • Sarah Louise Hicks (19)
  • Victoria Jane Hicks (15)
  • Gordon Rodney Horn (20)
  • Arthur Horrocks (41)
  • Thomas Howard (39)
  • Thomas Anthony Howard (14)
  • Eric George Hughes (42)
  • Alan Johnston (29)
  • Christine Anne Jones (27)
  • Gary Philip Jones (18)
  • Richard Jones (25)
  • Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)
  • Anthony Peter Kelly (29)
  • Michael David Kelly (38)
  • Carl David Lewis (18)
  • David William Mather (19)
  • Brian Christopher Mathews (38)
  • Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
  • John McBrien (18)
  • Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
  • Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
  • Peter McDonnell (21)
  • Alan McGlone (28)
  • Keith McGrath (17)
  • Paul Brian Murray (14)
  • Lee Nicol (14)
  • Stephen Francis O’Neill (17)
  • Jonathon Owens (18)
  • William Roy Pemberton (23)
  • Carl William Rimmer (21)
  • David George Rimmer (38)
  • Graham John Roberts (24)
  • Steven Joseph Robinson (17)
  • Henry Charles Rogers (17)
  • Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)
  • Inger Shah (38)
  • Paula Ann Smith (26)
  • Adam Edward Spearritt (14)
  • Philip John Steele (15)
  • David Leonard Thomas (23)
  • Patrik John Thompson (35)
  • Peter Reuben Thompson (30)
  • Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
  • Peter Francis Tootle (21)
  • Christopher James Traynor (26)
  • Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
  • Kevin Tyrrell (15)
  • Colin Wafer (19)
  • Ian David Whelan (19)
  • Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
  • Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
  • Graham John Wright (17)

Rest in Peace

More reading:

What really happened at Hillsborough

3.15pm – A cut off from justice

What really happened at Hillsborough

The Missing CCTV tapes

About the Documentary

Poems about Hillsborough

Were you there & can you help?

Steve Rotheram – Commons debate speech

Steve Rotheram MP – A survivor’s stoy

Richie Greaves – A survivor’s story

Ed – A survivor’s story

Pete Carney – A survivor’s story

Damian Kavanagh – A survivor’s story

Damian Kavanagh – A survivor’s story

Damian Kavanagh is another top lad that I have had the pleasure of meeting through the making of this documentary, and as with the others, he gave up his time freely to talk to me about his experiences of the 15th April 1989.

Below is a short clip from a longer interview that will be used in the documentary. For me, these few minutes of footage perfectly sums up why so many are still doing so much to fight for truth & justice 22 years later.

Pete Carney – A survivor’s story

I’d like to take this opportunity to give a big, public thank you to Pete Carney who gave many hours of his time freely to help me piece together the truth of that day.

There is a tiny teaser clip of Pete’s interview below, but the full interview will be used in the doco.

Pete had a near-death experience, and had to be carried unconscious from the crowd, back up the tunnel to the Leppings Lane where thankfully he regained consciousness.

Hillsborough; Spurs v Wolves. F.A.Cup semi-final, 1981

I interviewed Neil Irving for the documentary, a Spurs fan who was at the Hillsborough stadium for the 1981 semi-final v Wolves. I am massively grateful for him for giving his time so freely to help tell the real truth of the Hillsborough disaster. He’s one of many rival fans who have offered support, solidarity and who are only too aware that this disaster could have happened to them. For Neil, he came closer than most other club’s supporters to that horrendous reality.

Neil was behind a crush barrier on the Leppings Lane terrace, and when the crushing became unbearable he lifted himself into the air so his ribs were clear of the barrier. He ended up spending 90 minutes pinned in the air, with the weight of the crowd behind him pinning his thighs firmly against the crush barrier. The crucial difference in 1981, is that South Yorkshire Police opened the gates at the front and let over 500 Spurs fans spill onto the perimeter of the pitch as you clearly see in the video below.

This is a video that Neil has put together himself, which shows Tottenham fans spilling onto the pitch that day:

 

If you are a Spurs fan, and you were at Hillsborough for this match in 1981, please leave a reply with your recollections below.

Operation Resolve appeal for witnesses; calling Leeds fans

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Operation Resolve is looking to speak to Leeds United supporters who were at Hillsborough for the 1987 semi-final between Leeds United and Coventry City. There are over 70 comments on this blog from Leeds fans who were there, which can be read here: 

http://thehillsboroughdisasterdocumentary.com/2011/11/18/hillsborough-leeds-v-coventry-1987-semi-final/#comment-1815

This is the message from Graham Coates at Operation Resolve: 

Operation Resolve is the independent criminal investigation into the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough Stadium on 15/4/89. The investigation team is also providing assistance to the Coroner, Lord Justice Goldring, in relation to the inquests, which commenced on 31st March 2014.

In November 2011 I requested responses from Leeds fans who would be willing to be interviewed about their experiences of the Leeds v Coventry 1987 semi-final at Hillsborough. Operation Resolve  is keen to speak with a number of you who kindly responded in order to collate evidence of comparison between the two fixtures for both the criminal and coronial inquiries.

Operation Resolve are requesting that Martin Keat, Martin Tustin-Smith, Marc Gibbons, Ed McKenna, Chris Hancock, Martin Hardwick, Mark Ezart, Andrew Woodhead, Ian Simpson, John McDonald, D Scott, Paul Brace, Stephen Foden, Ady Smith, Jon Roberts, Rob Jesse and Paul Noon, Andrew Vause, Eddie Welby, Ian Harris46, Neil Parker, Tony Hepworth, Darren Taylor, Liam, Dean Jarvis, Craig Myers, Leedsleedsleeds, Paul Brace, Ian Job, Martin and Paul Trigg contact them via the Operation Resolve website (operationresolve.co.uk) and mark responses for the attention of Detective Inspector Graham Coates.”

 

The fans that came in behaved very well … none of them were drunk.

I am reading a lot from witness statements from the Hillsborough Independent Panel right now, because I am writing a book called Hillsborough in their own words which will be published in March 2014.

I can’t image how pissed off the South Yorkshire Police officer was who took this statement from a local off-licence worker. Just look at the gist of some of the questions, and how some of the questions follow the preceding question already assuming guilt!

The questions they asked (in so many words) were as follows.

Did people buy alcohol? yes.

Could you tell if they were Liverpool or Nottingham Forest fans? Both

Did fans steal from you, of so, estimate how much? Not to my knowledge.

Would you say these thefts were organised and planned? n/a

One of the last questions must have sent this SYP officer over the edge. The questions was:

Is there anything that you would like to add that you feel is vital to this judicial enquiry?

The fans that came in were behaving very well.
They came in and bought about two cans each which I felt
was a sensible quantity. None of them were drunk.

full statement: http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/docs/SYP000144550001.pdf

Were you a Spurs fan in the Leppings Lane terraces for the FA Cup semi-final in 1981?

I am appealing for Spurs fans to come forward, and to give me an account of their experiences that day to be used in a book I am writing about the Hillsborough disaster. The working title is Hillsborough; In their own words and it is scheduled for publication in March 2014.

Spurs fan Neil Irving has already spoken to me for my documentary which you can see here, but I would like other perspectives as well. Many Spurs fans have commented on the Neil Irving interview page and I’d also like permission to use those comments. 

If you can help, could you please email me at mike_nicholson@hotmail.co.uk

Thanks in advance for your help.

 

 

Norman Bettison e-petiition

     
 

 

The e-petition ‘Norman Bettison’ signed by you recently reached 12,087 signatures and a response has been made to it.

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: The report published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) last month deals with the distinct issue of Sir Norman Bettison’s conduct in relation to his alleged attempt to influence the decision-making process of West Yorkshire Police Authority in the days following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report in September 2012. The IPCC’s independent investigation into the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, potentially involving hundreds, if not thousands, of officers, including Mr Bettison, who was a Chief Inspector in South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster, is still ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate for the Home Office to provide detailed comment at this time. In terms of taking steps to remove Mr Bettison’s knighthood, this is ultimately a matter for the Honours Forfeiture Committee – a committee convened under the Cabinet Office which considers cases referred to the PM where an individual’s actions subsequent to their being awarded an honour raise the question of whether they should be allowed to continue to be a holder. On the question of whether retrospective disciplinary action should now be taken against Mr Bettison, this is a matter for the Police and Crime Commissioner of West Yorkshire Police, however, clearly no disciplinary sanction could be imposed. As part of a series of measures designed to ensure the highest standards of integrity in policing, on 12 February the Home Secretary announced that a national register of officers struck off from the police would be introduced, which will be managed and maintained by the College of Policing. She also announced that disciplinary hearings against officers who resign or retire can be pursued until their conclusion – and where they are pursued and dismissal would have been imposed, they will be added to the register. A police pension may only be forfeited where an officer is convicted of a criminal offence that was committed in connection with his or her service as a member of a police force. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

View the response to the e-petition

Thanks,

HM Government e-petitionshttp://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/

 
     
     

Is biting a human instinct?

Firstly, an apology. This post has nothing to do with Hillsborough so if you arrived here with that in mind please accept my apologies. I had something on my mind that I wanted to share, it was more than 140 characters, and I had nowhere else to house it.

Luis Suarez was today handed a ten-match ban for biting an opponent during a football match. This article in no way whatsoever seeks to defend what he did, but it does seek to try and understand why he might have done it.

I have no firm answers, but hopefully some interesting questions.

Any behaviour is said to be instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience, that is, in the absence of learning. So blinking if somebody claps his or her hands in front of our face is instinctive because we didn’t learn to do that. Resisting the temptation to pick our nose when we have a really uncomfortable obstruction causing us severe discomfort is a learned action. A small child would pick their nose instinctively, but we are taught over time by society that it is wrong to do so.

I have always believed that we are born in our natural state, and then taught to behave how society wants us to behave. Manners are not instinctive; manners are the result of societal pressures. I’m no physiologist, but if you watch young children you’ll see that they will often lash out if they are feeling extreme emotions such as frustration, anger or fear. How often, or to what extreme they lash out will depend on the individual temperament, but lashing out is an instinctive reaction to a set of extreme circumstances. More children than we might like to admit also lash out in the form of biting. They didn’t learn to bite; nobody taught them, but they instinctively did so in response to an extreme emotion such as anger or frustration.

On the biting front, I don’t believe that children simply ‘grow out of it’ to use the hackneyed phrase by the way, I believe that they are ‘taught out of it’ by their parents because it is not socially acceptable to bite somebody. It might be instinctive in certain circumstances, but it is not socially acceptable.

So society and education as we grow up help us to unlearn how we are programmed to behave. We deny deep-rooted human instincts by learning new ways to behave, based largely on what society expects. Surely though instinctive reactions are stronger than societal teachings? Surely instinct must always be there, bubbling just under the surface of our educated selves.

If that is the case then those instinctive behaviours can be triggered. I assume every person has the limit that will trigger it, and I am assuming the most of us wouldn’t cave in to the hugely irritating bogey by pushing a finger up our nose at a dinner party. But in the street? Still no? What about in your bedroom on your own?

Imagine this scenario. You are playing in a football match and you have just given away a soft penalty that has allowed the opposition to score. You’re angry with yourself and with the situation that your team now faces. You’re hugely competitive, and incredibly frustrated at the situation you feel you have just caused. Your team is on the attack, and you are busting a gut to get into the box and make up for your error, you are straining with every sinew to get into a goal scoring-position. Something however is holding you back.

An arm a body, pulling, holding, stopping your progress. Pulling you back, holding you, in your way. You’re angry; you’re desperate to win. Would you bite the arm that was holding you back? For the majority of us the answer is no, of course not. Its not the done thing in our society, and the emotions we are feeling are not enough for most of us to override what we have learned is right with instinct.

What about more extreme circumstances? What about if you were walking down an alley late at night and two blokes pushed you against a wall. One of them had your arms pushed against your sides so hard that you couldn’t move no matter how much the adrenalin course through your veins. You couldn’t move, you’re scared and the other man has his hands around your through, slowly strangling you. Would you bite the man strangling you? I’d say that for the majority of us the answer is yes, because the human instinct to react to extreme danger overrides any teaching you may have had about it being wrong to bite.

Suarez was brought up on the tough streets of Uruguay, and none of us know what that was like so there is no point talking about it at length. We also don’t know if he was taught to stop fighting when he was young. Some people in this country aren’t taught not to fight.

Maybe he had a different life, was brought up with a different set of values. Maybe he wasn’t taught to hide his instinct to lash out. Maybe he was taught to fight because he lived in a rough neighbourhood, and being nice and polite wouldn’t get him very far. Who knows, not you or I.

As I said before, I am no physiologist and I am not condoning what Suarez did. When in Rome do what the Romans do goes the saying and these Romans aren’t for biting. Suarez has to except that. Society says that is not acceptable behaviour.

Maybe though we’re all programmed to be capable of such an act, as alien and appalling as that might seem to us. Maybe some people are raised to cover human instincts better than others, and that is the difference.

Senior officers retiring to escape Hillsborough discipline is shameful!

 

Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield retired with a full police pension to avoid being disciplined for his mismanagement of the Hillsborough disaster. Remember he was not only the man who gave the order to open the gate, but also the nam who lied about his order and in doing so fuelled the early lies that the media ran with. Having survived a private prosecution by the families, the South Yorkshire Police brought disciplinary charges against him but he was allowed to escape that procedure through retirement in the early 90’s, his full police pension intact. Last I heard he was playing a lot of golf in Dorset, and is away on holiday now by all accounts.
 
More than two decades later, Norman Bettison is doing the same thing! The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said in March 2013 that Norman Bettison had a case to answer for “discreditable conduct and abuse of authority” in relation to Hillsborough and the subsequent cover-up which would justify dismissal if found guilty, yet his recent retirement means that he cannot be disciplined either.
 
Two senior officers retired out of harms way. Two senior officers with a huge role in the story of the Hillsborough Disaster, who are retiring their way out of justice. That cannot be right can it?
 
If you agree that Bettison should still face up to his past actions, please sign the petition:
 
 
It takes only two minutes, it’s free, and I think it’s right!