Campaigns - boycott to minute's silence
Since forming, as a proactive collection of Hillsborough families, survivors and supporters in Feb 1998, the Campaign has struggled to bring Hillsborough and the continued lack of justice back into the public domain on many occassions.
Many people are aware that all clubs now observe a minutes silence on 15th April following the group's letter campaign. In this section you can read on this and other successes the group has acheived, as well as ongoing activites.
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The Hillsborough Justice Campaign
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The Trial of Duckenfield and Murray 2000
In June 2000 in Leeds Crown Court a Private Prosecution began against David Duckenfield, chief superintendent in charge of policing at Hillsborough on April 15th 1989, and his deputy superintendent Bernard Murray who was in control of the control room at the ground.
It is safe to say that the prosecution would not have come about if not for the formation of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. The HJC was formed by families, survivors and supporters in February 1998.
In response to this the Hillsborough Family Support Group set up an associate membership (previously only families were able to join) for survivors though they could not attend meetings and were granted no voting rights.
The HFSG had to do something as the grass roots mood in Liverpool was for something to happen as the 10th anniversary of the disaster approached. Particularly after the money raised by the Manic Street Preachers Justice concert - £1M said the newspapers, £400,000 after everyone took their cut said the HFSG. By the 10th anniversary this money had been spent as Phil Hammond of the HFSG requested football players to make donations.
The private prosecution has been orchestrated by solicitor Anne Addlington (a Liverpool City Council employee, seconded to generally work with Hillsborough families - which amounted to creating deep divisions and instigating infighting). In June 1998 the informations were laid out against Duckenfield and Murray in Sefton (Liverpool) magistrates court. The two ex-policemen's legal representatives sought from the beginning to stop the prosecution due to "Abuse of Process" - suggesting that after 10 years of public debate no fair trial was necessary. The trial was moved from Liverpool to Leeds to be ruled over by Justice Hooper.
Justice Hooper made it known to the prosecution (the HFSG) his previous role as an advisor to the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to Hillsborough (remember they found insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone over the deaths of 96 football fans). He even offered to step down as trial judge - the prosecuting counsel declined his offer - the first of many weak capitulations.
The Counts against Duckenfield and Murray
Counts one and two - Manslaughter for failure to prevent the crush after the gates were opened by failing to prevent access to and divert fans from the tunnel leading to the already full pens 3 and 4.
Count three - Misconduct in Public Office
Count four - Perverting the Course of Justice. Only laid against Duckenfield and dropped after intervention by the Attorney General.
Count five - Misconduct, again only Duckenfield. Arising out of his lie that gate C had been forced open by Liverpool fans when in fact it was he that ordered it open.
During the course of the trial the case was reduced to one count of manslaughter.
Pre Trial Ruling - setting the rules
The Judge, Justice Hooper, was asked to prevent the trial from taking place by the defence (Duckenfield and Murray) because they held there would be no fair trial (under European Convention of Human Rights (sic)), the prosecution is too oppressive, pre-trial publicity had been such that no fair trial was possible and that because of the delay the trial would not be fair.
On 16th February Justice Hooper prepared a Ruling outlining the circumstances in which he would allow the trial to go ahead after hearing arguments from the prosecution and defence. This is very significant for a number of reasons.
1. The trial would go ahead satisfying the HFSG and demonstrating that, even after all this time, the state was doing something - BUT only by it's rules.
2. Justice Hooper chronologised a selective history of 'key events' surrounding Hillsborough over the last ten years. For example the Jimmy McGovern documentary is in there, as is the Manic Street Preachers song SYMM - these are cited as having an influence on the fairness of the trial. What is NOT included is The Sun's article days after the disaster which so chastised Liverpool football fans and paved the way for the inquest in which "drunken Liverpool hooligans" were implicitly blamed for the disaster. The Sun 'obviously' didn't feature as adverse "pre-trial publicity" for the coppers' defence.
3. The ruling enabled Justice Hooper to put a ban on any publicity which in his opinion would prejudice the trial under the Contempt of Court Act. The HFSG and their legal team took it upon themselves to police this - no doubt in total fear that the flimsy case would be put in jeopardy if THEY pointed out something Justice Hooper didn't like. What this in reality amounted to was a ruling in which the HFSG could gag anyone but themselves from saying anything about Hillsborough. The contradictions and tragically stupid situations that arose can be read in more depth here. The HFSG were handed a court given monopoly on talking about Hillsborough - which they used on the eve of the eleventh anniversary to get Justice Hooper to place a Court Order against other bereaved families, preventing this, the HJC's website launching.
Justice Hooper then went through legal precedents to answer the defence's argument that no fair trial is possible. The video evidence recorded by the BBC and Police CCTV was cited as reason enough that the delay (11 years) from the actual event should not prevent the trial arising. He then thought that his own ruling silencing the media and selective questioning of the jury would deal with the adverse publicity angle. Then came the icing on the cake, or maybe it should read the prosecution's utter capitulation.
In regards to the prosecution being too oppressive on the poor souls of Duckenfield and Murray the defence argued that it was "prompted by a distorted and misrepresented view of the facts (Jimmy McGovern's drama documentary). In response Hooper decided on this:
"In this case neither the defendant's or members of their family have given evidence but I have no difficulty in inferring that they must be suffering a considerable amount of strain. They are likely to have thought following the verdict of the jury in the Coroners' enquiry in 1991, if not earlier, that a prosecution was, at the very least, very unlikely..."
"The thought of being convicted for a serious offence of manslaughter must be a strain on anybody. However, and I can say from my own experience of defending in criminal cases over many years, it is the thought of prison which, for most defendants, is the greatest worry."
"For police officers or ex-police officers the threat of prison has even more significance than for others. These two defendants, if sentenced to prison for the manslaughter of, in effect, 96 people be necessarily be at considerable risk of serious injury if not death at the hands of those who feel very strongly about Hillsborough."
"Doing my best to resolve the competing interests of the defendants and the public, I have decided that there is an alternative to a stay (halting the prosecution). I conclude that the oppression is not such as to prevent the trial from taking place but that I should now reduce to a significant extent the anguish being suffered by these defendants. I do that by making it clear that the two defendants. will not immediately lose their liberty should they be convicted. This is, I accept, a highly unusual course, but this is a highly unusual case. When I canvassed this possibility with Mr, Jones (prosecuting counsel) he fairly and helpfully drew my attention to evidence that the families were not, apparently, seeking punishment of this kind (page 6 of transcript of evidence of Miss Addlington before the Stipendiary Magistrate)."
So here we have it, as early as June 1998, Miss Addlington took it upon herself to undemocratically put across the view, recorded in court, that the families of those who died at Hillsborough don't want to see the cops go down, if convicted of manslaughter. And the judge held her to her word! It is from this moment on, (June 1998) that the trial could only ever be a Show Trial. It's worth stating the obvious here - the families involved in the HJC completely disagree with Miss Addlington on this one, the views of the families in the HFSG (who have been kept in the dark about this tacit agreement we know for a fact) are never democratically expressed so we can't clearly speculate but ask yourself this:
Your child dies at a football match due to total mismanagement of crowd control shall we say. Those is a position of public responsibility are brought to book for it BUT they will not be subject to the same laws as you would be if you were in the dock. Why? Because YOUR solicitor has agreed, without asking you, that they wont face the same punishment expected for the crime. Now multiply that by 96.
There is a law for them and a law for us. It is under these circumstances. Which no one was able to report on. That the trial began in June 2000.
The private prosecutions of David Duckenfield and Bernard Murray proceeded much as expected within the limited acceptable parameters of restricted evidence.
Some of the stupid things surrounding the trial opening can be read here
As previously stated the HJC had grave concerns when it realised that no evidence after 3.06p.m. on the day of this disaster was to be heard. This was even more restrictive than the coroner's 3.15 p.m. cut off.Alun Jones Q.C. for the prosecution gave evidence to show that David Duckenfield had tried to blame the fans for the disaster. He called Graham Kelly formerly of the F.A. to support his assertion that Duckenfield had lied both to Kelly and other officials by saying that fans had burst the gate open when, in fact, he had ordered the opening of the gate himself. He stated:
Duckenfield deceitfully and dishonestly concealed from those men that he had himself ordered the exit gates opened.
Jones also told the court that the tragedy need never have happened if the defendants had ordered officers to block or close off the tunnel to pens 3 and 4. He also stated that football-goers had:
surrendered responsibility for their personal safety to the controlling police officers as completely as we do to a pilot and his co-pilot when we board a plane.
The first witness called by the prosecution was a survivor who had escaped from the crushing. He emphasised the tremendous pressure that was put on him and others as they were propelled through the tunnel following the opening of the gate. This evidence would later be used by counsel for the defence as an example of the 'unknown phenomena' in the tunnel that had caused the disaster. Other survivors were called including a high court judge, Sir Maurice Kay. Several police officers gave evidence favourable to the prosecution. A key witness was Roger Houldsworth a former employee of Sheffield Wednesday. Houldsworth was monitoring crowd flow into the ground on the day of the disaster. He told the court that he heard a message on a police radio saying that if a gate outside the stadium was not opened someone would be killed. He said he heard a reply:"open the gate".
Counsel for David Duckenfield announced that he (Duckenfield) would not be giving evidence in person, instead a statement was admitted. Mr Clegg Q.C. proceeded to call a number of local residents all of whom gave a variety of evidence to the effect that there had been a large number of latecomers with drink. Bernard Murray did take the stand and stated from the witness box how traumatised he has been by the effects of that day. He also stated that he feels so much for the families who lost loved ones. His counsel, Mr Harrison, also called two character witnesses. Interestingly, it was Mr Justice Hooper who called the former police officer who had previously been in charge of policing Hillsborough, Mr Mole. Called as an 'expert witness' he told how, in his considered and 'expert' opinion the disaster had been caused by hooliganism. In summary, the private prosecution was defended within the familiar context of drunkeness, ticketlessness and lateness.
Before the prosecution began summing up, Mr Justice Hooper outlined four questions that the jury had to consider when trying to reach a decision. They were:
- Are you sure that it was forseable by a reasonable match commander that by letting people in through the gates that there would be deaths in pens 3 and 4? If the answer to this question was yes then they had to proceed to question two which was:
- Are you sure there were effective steps could have been taken to close the tunnel? Yes? Then:
- Failure to take such steps was negligent as a reasonable match commander would have done so. Yes?
- With regard to the risk involved, the failure to take such steps led to the serious criminal offence of manslaughter.
N.B. If the answer to Q.1 was 'no', then the verdict must be not guilty.
Prosecution Summing up.
Alun Jones Q.C. began his summing up on the 12th July. He emphasised the number of people that would have entered into the ground once gate C had been opened. ItWas estimated at 2,200 people. Pens 3 and 4 were already full, given that there was stewarding of the area then probably over half would have gone through the tunnel.Jones stated that it was the prosecutions case that the officers 'didn't think'. Spectators were seen as a 'security problem'. The mindset throughout the events on that day was such that the officers didn't recognises a safety issue. He said that the mindset throughout was best summed up by one word – NEGLECT. This mindset also demonstrated the officers attitude which viewed fans as hooligans. He stated that safety and order are other sides of the same coin but the defendants recognised only one side of the coin over a period of twenty six minutes:
The mindset of these officers was that these people were a problem…[this was]slow-motion negligence.
He pointed out that the defence had offered little in the way of defence in respect of evidence which highlighted the build up of fans outside the ground. He asked the question 'why'?
With regard to the overfull pens and the emerging crisis, Jones argued that the prosecution had brought evidence to show that from all corners of the ground people could see the chaos and overcrowding- the police in the control box were in the best position to see that chaos and overcrowding plus they had the advantage of knowing that Gate C had been opened.
Specifically in respect of the issue of forseability Jones argued that given the fact that it could be seen that pens 3 and 4 were full, then a reasonable match commander would have foreseen that a consequence of opening gate C and allowing entrance then there would be an obvious risk of death. He repeated the prosecution case that Duckenfield had deliberately misled officials by stating that fans had burst gate C open. He also said that Duckenfields' argument that it was the responsibility of the club to control the volume of people in the pens was ridiculous given that the hadn't even informed the club that the gate had been opened. Jones stated that when Duckenfield misled Graham Kelly about the opening of gate C he was playing what Jones referred to as 'the Heysel card, the hooligan card'. He went on to say that this card was also played by Mr Mole when he gave evidence.
He repeated the prosecution case that Duckenfield is responsible for the deaths of 96 people because he failed to seal off the tunnel.
Jones tried to put pay to the argument of drunkeness and late arrivals. He argued that it was a controlled entry into the ground. He berated the defence for calling local residents to give petty evidence about the fans:
What has urinating in gardens got to do with the cause of this disaster at all.
The evidence of senior police officers was heavily criticised. In particular the evidence of Mr Mole who, he says, gave disgraceful evidence in court. He went on to describe him as a 'stooge' for the defence. Inspector Goddard, who had been in the control room was described as 'partisan'.
Jones argued that in answer to all four question that the jury had to consider they should answer 'yes' on all four counts. He stated that the jury were in a position to act because although 'we haven't looked at what happened after 3.06p.m. … 'the truth has been told here in Leeds, eleven years on'
DEFENCE SUMMING UP
Mr Clegg, counsel for Duckenfield began his summing up by stating that:
David Duckenfield never unlawfully killed those 96 people anymore than did anyone in that control box….How he must curse the promotion that handed him that poison chalice of Hillsborough.
He categorically stated that the events at Hillsborough were: 'unprecedented, unforeseable and unique'. He said the words 'if only' must haunt Duckenfield…if only someone had told me the pens were overcrowded, if only I'd not won promotion, if only anyone had realised the terraces were a death trap'. He stated that this trial was misconceived, that the causes of the disaster are more than two people, they are: 'a conglomeration of many unforeseen events'.
In answer to the questions to be considered by the jury he argued that they should answer 'no' on all counts. He stated that the events were not foreseable:
If anyone could have foreseen [the disaster] it would never have happened.
He said that death was not foreseen because the terraces were perceived to be inherently safe. They had been used safely for over a hundred years. There was a safety certificate saying the ground was safe.
Cleggs' summing up was based around the idea that what happened at Hillsborough that afternoon was:
A physical phenomena that no one could have predicted and to this day that no one can explain.
He went on to say that the disaster did not occur because gate C was opened rather the disaster happened because:
people left the tunnel with such speed and force that people on the terrace were crushed to death. That is why people died.
Moreover, Duckenfied cannot be guilty unless it was reasonable for him to foresee that people would exit the tunnel with that force.
Clegg went on to do use the evidence of prosecution witnesses to create the picture of lateness, drunkeness and ticketlessness. #Central to his argument that the jury must return a 'not guilty' verdict was his argument that the decision to open gate C was made in a moment of crisis - there was not the time to consider all the consequences of opening that gate.
In concluding his impressive summing up he said:
David Duckenfield is a good, honest man who gives his time to others.This tragedy has ruined many lives…it has left its mark on him.
Mr Harrison for Mr Murray began his summing by stating that it was:
Wrong, wrong and wrong again to seek solace in the prosecution of the man I represent.
He emphasised Mr Murray's story As witnessed when he gave evidence:
You are trying a thoroughly decent, honourable man.
He went on to state that:
People who entered the ground after 2.52p.m. acted in such a way as to cause the deaths of those people.
He stated that the prosecution case was superficial and simplistic.
Cleverly Mr Harrison argued the prevailing attitude to football and hooliganism when the disaster occurred. This enabled him to comment:
It was hooliganism in football in general which led to the 96 deaths in what we now know to be death traps….I'm not saying that the Liverpool fans who had no tickets and who were trying to get in were the same kind of hooligans. They probably just thought it was a scam.
He endorsed Cleggs submission that the prosecution fails at the first question…'it was not foreseable…it is not negligent to make a mistake.
He said that Mr Murray should not be judged in the context of hindsight. He finished by stating:
Events of the magnitude of Hillsborough don't usually happen for one single reason nor can it be pinned on one individual. A whole set of circumstance came together for a whole variety of reasons in a deadly combination…You are asked to convict Bernard Murray - if you did you would be making him a scapegoat.
The Judge then effectively repeated the defence summing up!
Not Gulity for Murray, the Jury could not agree on Duckenfield. Read our verdict here!
Hillsborough Justice Campaign Press Release on the Trial of Duckenfield and Murray.
Two ex police officers have faced trial for manslaughter. One has been acquitted and in the case of the other (Duckenfield), the Jury could not agree. At least there were some people on the Jury who could see the charade that masquerades as British Justice.
Has justice been done? Has justice been seen to be done?
No. It was a show trial.
The Prosecution alleged that, "The Truth has been told here in Leeds, 11 years on, for the first time." We disagree. The Truth about Hillsborough has once more been hidden.
Any manslaughter trial with no pictures of dead bodies is a show trail. The idea that people didn't die after 3.06pm when the referee blew his whistle has nothing to do with medical fact. Such an artificially imposed "cut off" point could only come about in a show trial. And this trial has been even more restrictive than The Coroner's inquests, which imposed a 3.15pm cut off point.
Admissible evidence about Hillsborough in British Courts is now less than it was 11 years ago.
This trial became a show trial when it was agreed only to proceed on the basis that if the defendants were to be found guilty they would NOT go to prison for manslaughter. A predetermined sentence stinks of a show trial.
These verdicts are not justice because the facts about Hillsborough were not admissible in this show trial. 96 people were killed at Hillsborough, hundreds were physically injured, numerous suicides can be directly linked to Hillsborough and literally thousands have been traumatised by their experience of that day.
Hillsborough is a much bigger miscarriage of justice than two officers being offered up as a gesture of compromise to have their wrists slapped.
The bereaved families of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign will continue to fight their own cases without compromise, with the aim of having the true facts of Hillsborough officially recorded. We know that this will take a long time. We are used to waiting.
We do not see today as any kind of victory or defeat. This show trial did nothing to bring out the truth of Hillsborough. In fact, it further entrenched the lies of Hillsborough within the annals of legal history.
For those of you who wish to know the facts, take a look at our web site: www.contrast.org/hillsborough
Told by people who were there at Hillsborough, people whose children died at Hillsborough, people who have struggled for 11 years and are STILL fighting for justice.
"One owes respect to the living. To the dead one owes only the truth."Voltaire