Hillsborough blame not a simple matter

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From: Jack Brown, Lamb Lane, Monk Bretton, Barnsley.

I DO not know if Clive Betts (Yorkshire Post, September 12) was leader or deputy leader to David Blunkett when, circa 1981, a South Yorkshire political initiative, relevant to Hillsborough in 1989, was taken. It is highly unlikely, however, that any one senior politician in South Yorkshire was unaware of what happened.

The chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority was Rotherham councillor George Moores. Jack Layden – George’s Labour Party colleague, leader of Rotherham Council and chairman/director of Rotherham United – led a delegation from every FA club in South Yorkshire to lobby us about the cost of policing football games.

George set up a temporary sub-committee on which I sat. It met three or four times.

The authority had regularly been begged by Leppings Lane residents for protection against violent fans, drunken or otherwise.

They had even proposed the reading of the Riot Act so that they could claim for damage to their homes.

Because of the experience of those residents around Oakwell, I had little sympathy with the clubs or the fans. However, the sub-committee was simply window dressing for political ends. I cannot remember the cost of the final recommendations but we had too much money for our responsibilities and they would be met.

I can remember and will never forget, a comment made by Chief Constable Jim Brownlow when he opposed a reduction in officer presence on match days: “Leppings Lane is a disaster waiting to happen”.

If the minutes of those meetings are not among the documents released, then they will be somewhere in the archives and they may be relevant. My personal opinion is that the behaviour of all football club supporters in Leppings Lane was disgraceful and dangerous.

Loving Scousers, among whom I lived for several months in my adolescence, I deplored their unique calumny by The Sun and Boris Johnson. Having sympathy for the police in that impossible situation, I deplore the demands for blame and compensation.

From: David Rimington, Fairways Drive, Harrogate.

The latest report on the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy clearly shows that the incompetence and ineptitude of the police was a contributing factor to the death of 96 people.

The exposure of the lies, deception and dishonesty of the police simply confirms, in my view, the corrupt nature of the British establishment.

However, the role of the police on the day, or since, was not the main contributing factor which killed so many innocent people. The killer was the fences.

People were penned in like cattle and could not escape onto the pitch. Had there been no fences, the probability is that there would have been no deaths. How many people have been killed invading a pitch since fences were removed from football grounds?

No. The blame for the 96 deaths lies with those who installed the fences, and those who aided their installation. The main responsibility for the deaths of these innocent people lies with Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, the Football Association and the Football League.

From: AV Beighton, Newhall Lane, Rotherham.

The dreadful tragedy that was Hillsborough showed on the day inept command by the police, who bear responsibility together with the FA and a number of others.

The 23-year wait that grieving families have had to endure for the full facts to be exposed does our nation and its leaders little credit.

Quite disturbing within Yorkshire where we pride ourselves on fairness is that its flagship newspaper does not subscribe to being fair. I am referring in particular to the reporting of Jack Blanchard. The headline of his article “‘Uncaring’ Bettison fighting for career” (Yorkshire Post, September 15), is not substantiated in his article and is totally inaccurate when applied to Mr Bettison.

His actions on the day of Hillsborough show this as well as many instances too numerous to mention throughout his police career.

Sadly hysteria, political-point scoring and speculative, inaccurate reporting have clouded the issues.

Let us all await the findings relating to Mr Bettison’s involvement in the aftermath of this tragedy by the IPCC before jumping to conclusions. I would hope the balance can be redressed when the full facts are known. Sad to say, the thirst for sensational headlines on occasions seems to outweigh the truth and accurate reporting.

From: John Wilson, Wilsons Solicitors, New Road Side, Horsforth, Leeds.

This Hillsborough business is focussing on the wrong issue. So what if the police and establishment were all corrupt in 1989? It was all such a long time ago. The families will continue to grieve of course, as one would expect, but the rest of us should be focussing far more on the here and now.

What has changed since 1989? How can we be assured that it isn’t just the same now? That is the real issue.

Back in the 17th century they dug up the corpse of Oliver Cromwell so they could put him on trial and hang him. For the authorities of the time it was doubtless a useful diversion from the issues of the day. Has anything really changed since?

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