14 September 2012

The Sun’s Lies Nailed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel

Head of South Yorkshire Police's Black Propaganda Unit - Sir Norman Bettinson - Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and ex-Merseyside Police Chief - Doesn't Get It But Will Soon

They Libelled the Dead to Flatter A Violent & Corrupt Police Force

Kelvin MacKenzie - BBC Low Life and Editor of the Infamous Edition - he apologised before only to retract
The horror of those at the front of the pen - metal fences designed to stop fans running on the pitch spelt death to those at the front
Trevor  Hicks - Chair of the Family Support Campaign at Press Conference - described Kelvin MacKenzie as 'low life but clever low life'
Another example of the Sun under Mackenzie glorying in Thatcher's mass murder of Argentinian naval conscripts
These are the people that the Sun libelled
Liverpool Fans Won't Forgive Postger

Fans trying to escape the crush are hauled up by Liverpool fans - not the cops

I can remember the tragedy of Hillsborough well enough.  I spent most of my childhood living in Liverpool and came from there to study in Brighton in 1974.  The tragedy of 96 dead at Hillsborough had an enormous impact on the people of Liverpool.  What they didn’t expect or deserve was to be libelled by a corrupt police force and their mouthpiece, the equally corrupt and rotten Sun ‘newspaper’.
Gathering at Liverpool's famous St. George's Hall
The second reason why I can remember the tragedy was because, with cruel irony, it was the day on which I got married, April 15 1989.  I came home from the reception only to learn of the unfolding horrors of an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. 

But no one should believe that this was an ‘error’ for which the Sun has now profusely apologised.  It was par for the course.  That headline ‘The Truth’ has come to haunt the Sun’s owners like no other headline, but the Scum’s regrets are purely financial.  Its infamous editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, glorified in the deaths of one thousand sailor aboard the General Belgrano during the Falklands/Malvinas war. ‘Gotcha’ was the infamous headline, for which he received plaudits for capturing the 'national mood'.

MacKenzie has now offered his  ‘profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool’  after 23 years and the Taylor Inquiry of 1990, which saw through the lies of the Police.  Taylor was the most liberal Lord Chief Justice Britain has had until his premature death in 1996.

What can be more pathetic than this wretched former editor explaining why he was duped:
''I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster.”  
No of course not.  People in authority never lie.  Only benefit ‘scroungers’, the unemployed, strikers and the disabled lie.  The poor can only live by lying, whereas the rich and powerful are paragons of virtue who only need to have a quiet word in one’s ear.  But the era of the Sun is over as its circulation declines.  The Sun and its stablemate, the News of the World got their comeuppance in the phone hacking scandal when they went too far and started hacking into the phones of royalty and the powerful.

As Trevor Hicks, Chairman of the Liverpool Families Support Group said of MacKenzie, he is ‘low life, clever low life, but low life.’  Which is why the BBC regularly uses him as a pundit.  The BBC has a particular fondness for far-right presenters from Jeremy Clarkson, Robert Kilroy-Silk (remember him?) to Kelvin MacKenzie.  It’s what they call balance and impartiality.

But the Sun’s attacks on Liverpool fans was of a piece with its consistent attacks on workers since Murdoch took over.  Its villification of the Miners’ year long strike to keep the pits open was second to none.  Any worker defending his or her job and rights was fair game.  It was the Sun that helped destroy the printing unions when they moved to Wapping.  The Sun has always been viciously anti-union and it was the Sun 'wot won it for the Tories'.
Far-right scumbag and Sun owner Rupert Murdoch - not a good year
South Yorkshire police had a reputation second to none.  Their late unlamented Chief Constable Peter Wright had learnt how to mass produce false police testimony during the trial of 95 striking miners at Sheffield Crown Court over the picket of the Orgreave coking plant in August 1985.  The Police case collapsed when their own video demonstrated that they had lied and a police signature was shown to have been forged (the statement itself was 'lost').  Interestingly Peter Wright was Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police at the time of the Toxteth riots.  What goes around, comes around.

Chairman of the Independent Panel which finally uncovered the extent of police malpractice
 Michael Mansfield QC, then a young barrister, first came to prominence during these proceedings and was initially the subject of a Bar Council disciplinary action.  It was the time when the BBC reversed a sequence of film to show police horses charging in reaction to miners throwing missiles at them.  In fact it was the miners who were the ones who were reacting.  What the South Yorkshire police learnt at Orgreave they put into effect at Hillsborough.

I was one of a number of people who went on a solidarity visit from Brighton Miners’ Support Group to stay with the striking miners of Armthorpe in the winter of 1984.  Their colliery, Markham Main was solid throughout the strike.  We learnt that the Police had sealed off the village earlier that year for three days and gone on a violent rampage through it.

Racist, sexist, homophobic – the Sun was all these things and more.  It regretted nothing but the boycott of the Sun by ordinary working class Liverpool people, which persists to this day, hurt it where it mattered - in its pocket.

It is a matter of shame in Liverpool to be seen in possession of this rag. The Sun is owned by the mega-rich far-right ex-Australian, now US citizen, Rupert Murdoch, whose media channels, such as Fox, regularly attack anyone who is poor, homeless or seeks justice.

It is no accident that the most pro-Zionist newspaper of the British press and the most anti-Muslim, has consistently been the Sun.  Racism and contempt for independent working class politics go hand in hand.

An apology as genuine as a 9 bob note

The Suns’ apology is as genuine as a nine bob note.  Its only concern is its ability to raise funds for News International.  It lives on jingoism and patriotism.  A hatred of anyone who is different.  But patriotism has always been the last refuge of a scoundrel.  Scapegoating is the Sun's bread and butter.

The Sun supported the Iraq war and the million dead that followed, long after even the most atavistic supporter of war had seen through Blair’s lies.  It is, after all, the paper of ‘our boys’ or rather Exxon and BP, and British capitalism’s need to punch above its weight.  ‘Our boys’ tend to be forgotten though when they are dead or crippled.

The Princess landing stage where thousands of Irish immigrants entered Liverpool
Liverpool’s fortunes were initially built on the Atlantic slave trade.  Its fine buildings, such as St. George’s Hall are a testament to the wealth that poured into the city.  But Liverpool was also known as the capital of Ireland.  Thousands poured in after the Great Famine in 1840.  It is estimated that ¾ of Liverpudlians have some Irish descent.  Coupled with the oldest Chinese community in Britain and the Somali and Caribbean communities, Liverpool is truly Britain’s melting pot.  Liverpool also had a sizeable Jewish community, at least 8-9,000 when I first lived there, although it is probably little more than 2,000 now.

In the 1960’s it was of course famous for the Merseybeat and The Beatles.  It represented the cultural and musical hub of Britain.  John Lennon in his Sometime in New York City album wrote Sunday Bloody Sunday, about the massacre by the Parachute Regiment in Derry (another cover-up exposed) and the pro-IRA ‘Luck of the Irish’ – a haunting ballad.  Even Tory Paul McCartney had a single about returning Ireland to the Irish.

And coupled with this was the fabled militancy of Liverpool workers who tenaciously defended their jobs and conditions at Fords Halewood, Girling Brakes, Metalbox and many other factories located largely in what is now the industrial desert of Speke.  The dockers, all 10,000 of them, were the most militant in the country.  In 1984-5 Liverpool Council, under Militant control, refused to set a rate and all its councillors were surcharged though at the height of the Miners' strike they reached a deal with Tory local government minister Patrick Jenkins, only to be isolated the following year.

Still senile - Thatcher visiting Hillsborough the day after deplored Peter Taylor's report .  She urged Home Secretary Douglas Hurd not to welcome its 'broad thrust'
It was this militancy which led to a particular Tory hatred of Liverpool.  When the riots of July 1981 started they were fiercest in Toxteth, Liverpool 8, where I had lived.  An old furniture shop the Rialto was burnt out at the junction of Princes and Upper Parliament roads, as was a National Westminster bank branch.  When I went back to visit friends in Liverpool 8 I was walking down the street when 2 cops passed.  They said ‘good evening sir’ and I nearly collapsed.  My only encounters with them previously had been when physically attacked by what were just thugs in uniform.  Liverpool 8 had its revenge on the corrupt and brutal Liverpool police force and in their wake Michael Heseltine arrived with his business and banker chums to set up a glorified flower garden.
Banner of those seeking justice for the 96 killed
The Sun’s venom over Hillsborough was nothing out of the ordinary.  It was born out of a hatred of the class militancy and independence of ordinary working class Liverpool people.  It is that which led the Sun to lie that people had attacked police 'rescuers' and pickpocketed the dead.  The Sun’s contempt 23 years ago has been was of a piece with the most despicable rag that has ever called itself a newspaper. 

The days of Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and also a former Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, are also numbered.  An inveterate liar who co-ordinated the editing of police witness statements for the Taylor inquiry, removing ‘hearsay and emotional baggage’ is likely to be forced to resign, since even now he doesn’t get it. 

Tony Greenstein


  1. the UK has the toughest libel laws in the world. is it possible for the families of the 96 deceased to sue rupert murdoch?

  2. Unfortunately it won't be possible because you cannot libel a dead person. Of course Rupert could pay the equivalent of libel damages if they were alive i.e. about £100,000 a person, but I doubt if he will!

    Apologies come cheap from his kind


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