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An Evertonian's Tribute to Phil Hammond

By Ann Adlington :  14/04/2009 :  Comments (35) :

Just as I was about to board my flight to Lanzarote last Thursday, 2 April 2009, I received a phone call from Paddy Shennan from the Liverpool Echo. He told me that the news of Phil Hammond?s critical illness was going to be reported in the Echo the following night. Phil Hammond is the Chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

I promised Paddy that I would pen a few words during the flight, describing my experience of the years that I had spent working alongside Phil. True to word, I started to scribble a few words on the back of my flight confirmation sheet. Before I knew it, I?d written four pages of notes. My granddaughter, Chelsea Sheedy, was then instructed to get the laptop out and I proceeded to dictate some further thoughts while she typed them up.

The bottom line is that it?s impossible to write a brief tribute to Phil Hammond without giving some background information about the Hillsborough families? fight for justice. So here goes.

I am acutely aware of Phil?s dedication to the fight for justice as I worked closely with him for many years and I am the solicitor who brought the private prosecutions on behalf of the Hillsborough Family Support Group in 1998. When Phil first took ill on 29 December 2008, I was out celebrating Everton?s memorable win over Sunderland that day. It?s quite ironic that Phil was struck down with a brain haemorrhage shortly after the Sunderland game. You may recall that after the corresponding fixture last season, my friend and fellow blue AJ Clarke was brutally murdered in the city centre. Nobody has yet been charged with his murder.

I was totally distraught when I heard about Phil. Down the years, many members of the bereaved families have had their lives cut short. Maureen Church, Jane Kelly, Joan Sinclair, Frank McAllister, Sheila and Bill Pemberton, Les Steele, Terry Sephton, Patsy McConnell, Stan Roberts? the list goes on and on. ?Hillsborough?s hidden victims? I call them. Worn down by the injustice surrounding the disaster. Too weary to battle with the establishment any longer and eager to join their loved ones in heaven. Bereft of the justice that they so thoroughly deserved. When I heard about Phil Hammond, I thought: ?Please god, not Phil as well.?

I?ve worked alongside Phil since 1990. We shared the ups and downs ? laughed together and cried together. I was privileged to witness the sheer courage of a man who was totally dedicated to the justice campaign, not just on behalf of the 96, but also on behalf of Liverpool supporters who have had to battle since 1989 to defend themselves from the lies that were told by the scum newspaper and THAT lie by David Duckenfield. We worked together on a full-time basis from 1997 when we set about arranging the Hillsborough Justice Concert at Anfield, to the conclusion of the private prosecutions in July 2000.

When the victims? ?body files? were released during the Lord Justice Stuart Smith ?scrutiny? in 1997, it was our job to consider the same and then discuss the contents with bereaved families, whilst at the same time, trying to evaluate whether any evidence in the body files satisfied Stuart Smith?s self pronounced criteria of ?fresh evidence?. This was the first time families had been allowed access to witness statements and photos reflecting not only the details of their loved ones in the final throes of life, but also, pictures of the deceased in body bags, lying on the cold floor of the gymnasium at the ground of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. The contents of each body file were horrific and no bereaved parent should have to confront such distressing documentation. The statements relating to the death of 10-year-old Jon Paul Gilhooly were particularly harrowing.

Phil Hammond had to confront these nightmares because the powers that be had copped out. In August 1989, the Taylor Inquiry had decreed that the immediate cause of the disaster was the failure of South Yorkshire Police (SYP), when gate C was opened, to cut off access to the central pens, which were already over-full. Lord Justice Taylor criticised senior officers for ?failure of control?.

The West Midlands Police had been appointed to gather evidence for the Taylor Inquiry, the inquests, and subsequent criminal investigation. Shortly after the publication of Taylor?s report, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), assisted by the West Midlands Police, launched an investigation as to whether any individual should be prosecuted in respect of the disaster. Some 16 months after the disaster, the DPP ruled that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against any individual.

This decision coincided with the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) commencing a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of various SYP officers. In July 1991,the PCA directed South Yorkshire Police Authority to prefer disciplinary charges against Murray and Duckenfield. Murray faced one charge of neglect of duty, Duckenfield four charges of neglect of duty and one of discreditable conduct (?the lie?). In November 1991, Duckenfield was allowed to retire on health grounds. Disciplinary charges, therefore, were not proceeded with. This was followed by a direction from the PCA in January 1992, that the charge against Murray be discontinued on the grounds that it would be inappropriate and unjust to pursue the charge against him, when the charges against Duckenfield had lapsed.

The deliberate effect of these investigations was that no information was released to bereaved families on the grounds that the investigations should not be prejudiced. In the meantime, the shallow inquest had been concluded. The inquest would always be a sham, following the coroner?s infamous decision not to hear evidence as to events after the 3:15 pm cut-off time on the basis that all 96 had suffered their fatal, irreversible injuries at that time.

At the time of the inquest, the cut-off decision was ineffectively challenged because the families had been deprived of access to any meaningful information relating to their loved ones. Put simply, they were not in possession of vital evidence to show that some of the victims were alive after this time, and in fact could have been saved with prompt medical intervention.

Was the withholding of such vital documentation really to protect the integrity of the investigations by the DPP and the PCA? I doubt it. The DPP?s failure to bring prosecutions in spite of the overwhelming findings of Lord Justice Taylor and the PCA?s cowardly decision to discontinue disciplinary charges against both Duckenfield and Murray, lead many (including myself), to believe that this was just a ploy to deprive the bereaved of vital evidence which would have led to a different inquest verdict and equipped them with the information necessary to press for criminal charges. Families had been conned into believing that if they trusted in the powers that be, that justice would be delivered. In their view, the inquest had been a cover up and the truth had been stifled in order to protect SYP. At the time of the disaster they were Thatcher?s darlings. They had quashed the miner?s strike in the most forceful of fashions.

In spite of the lack of access to documents and statements, a number of families did discover, through their own research and persistent enquiries, further information as to the deaths of their relatives, and of the treatment, or lack of treatment, administered to them after 3:15 pm. In April 1992, six Hillsborough families applied for a judicial review of the inquest verdicts. The hearing took place in the same week as the trial of the Jamie Bulger murderers in November 1993. The standing of Liverpool people had never been lower. The Times newspaper had published a scathing article about ?whinging scousers, wallowing in their own self-grief?. The judges presiding over the judicial review proceedings were totally unsympathetic. They appeared obviously disinterested with one of them regularly nodding off to sleep. The legal process is meant to be transparent. This was transparent injustice. It came as no surprise then when on 5 November 1993, these same judges ruled against the families. In their judgment, they referred to a semi-final between Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday!

During the judicial review proceedings, The Coroner had produced an affidavit, which, for the first time exhibited ?Continuity Charts?, which had been referred to at the mini-inquests into the deaths of the 96, but had never been disclosed to the families. These charts set out the movements of the deceased on the day of the disaster and also contained names of witnesses whose statements had never been disclosed to the families.

In addition, the families? barrister, Alun Jones QC, was given an index of statements said to be held by the South Yorkshire Police, not the investigating West Midlands police. This index was disclosed only because there was some doubt as to whether a second statement of a witness relevant to the case of Michael Kelly had been provided to Michael?s family. This index consists of 116 pages, and it lists 3,907 statements. At that stage, the families who had applied for judicial review, probably held only a total of 50 or so statements.

Although the outcome of the application for Judicial Review was adverse to the six families, the evidence of the Coroner, the copy of the index, and the statements discovered or relied on by each of the six families, had the effect of persuading me and the families that there was a large body of evidence, undisclosed, of direct relevance to the tragedy, which remained in the possession of SYP, even though they had been blamed for negligence by Justice Lord Taylor. All of this evidence had also been made available to the Coroner, Dr Stefan Popper.

I do not believe that anyone considered a prosecution in the aftermath of the judicial review hearing. The reality is that the HFSG appeared to have reached the end of the legal road. The families were demoralised, and had no faith that the truth would emerge from further legal process. There was no money available, nor any prospect of raising it. The Group had access only to a fraction of the evidence, a factor which would inevitably have weighed against it in any attempt to bring a private prosecution.

Some of the families started to put their hopes of discovering the true facts of the disaster in the hands of the media, rather than the courts. An example was the Roger Cook programme on Central Television, ?The Cook Report?, which concerned principally the case of Kevin Williams, and which included material discovered during and after the Judicial Review proceedings.

In October 1994, some of the families attended a preview of a series of fictional television programmes by the television writer Jimmy McGovern called ?Cracker?. The programmes featured the effects of the disaster on a particular man.The families who saw it asked Jimmy McGovern to investigate and present the true story of the disaster.I met with Katy Jones, the producer of Granada?s television?s World in Action in January 1995 and gave her a lot of information.

Granada TV decided to commission a programme in about June 1995.A series of meetings took place between Jimmy McGovern and some of the families, and the HFSG formally approved co-operation with the making of the programme, which became the drama-documentary ?Hillsborough? in December 1996.

The programme was well received by the public. Public awareness of the families? plight increased significantly.The matters raised in the drama-doc were discussed by Parliament, and the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, took a close and sympathetic interest, and met many of the families. The matters that were of concern to the group are apparent from the report of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith. The HFSG made submissions in 1997 to the Home Secretary and DPP asking for a criminal investigation into their well-founded belief that evidence had been suppressed.

On 10 May 1997, the Hillsborough Justice Concert was held at Anfield. I was privileged to work alongside Phil Hammond in organising the concert. Barely a month before, we?d travelled to London to the offices of Richard Branson to beg him to sponsor the concert. Before we arrived back in Liverpool that night, Branson had left a message saying that he would underwrite the costs of the concert. Phil and I both knew that tickets would fly out, but for various reasons, the concert had to be financially underwritten. I have an enduring memory of Phil?s tears when the erection of the stage was finally completed. The backdrop was the Shankly gates and at each side, the HFSG logo had been reproduced.The concert was an amazing success and raised substantial funds for the Group.

Thereafter followed the families? meeting with Jack Straw. A new Labour government had just been elected . They promised to wipe away the misery of the Tory years. I was present at the meeting. Jack Straw announced to the families that he had ordered a ?Scrutiny? of evidence pertaining to the disaster. He said that he?d appointed a senior Judge to conduct the ?Scrutiny?. I immediately asked him what the Judge?s terms of reference were. He replied that it was up to the Judge to determine his own terms of reference. I also asked him whether Hillsborough families would be allowed to cross examine witnesses. Again I was told that this would be a decision for Lord Justice Stuart Smith.What Home Secretary appoints a judge to hold a previously unheard of ?scrutiny? and then allows the judge to determine what he?s going to scrutinise and set down his own terms of reference? It was a new Labour cop-out. They thought that they could get away with appearing to give families something but in reality it simply amounted to political posturing.

Stuart Smith is the most obnoxious person I?ve ever had the misfortune to meet. He was sneering and lofty. I accompanied many families to their personal meetings with him. He was haughty, dismissive and insensitive in the extreme.Unsurprisingly, in February 1998, he ruled that there were no grounds to order a fresh inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster. Jack Straw and Stuart Smith have been rightly criticised. However, in their efforts to appear open and transparent, and to counter the arguments of ?its just another cover up? they actually provided the families? campaign for justice with fresh impetus. Remember, Stuart Smith?s own terms of reference were to inquire as to whether families had any fresh evidence which would have led Lord Justice Taylor, the DPP, the coroner and the PCA to reach different decisions than they had previously reached. What farcical terms of reference. Whilst the families possessed the transcripts of the verbal evidence given to Lord Justice Taylor and the coroner, they were completely in the dark as to what information had been considered by the DPP or the PCA. On the whole, families were pleased with the findings of the Taylor inquiry and were confident that such robust findings would result in the culpable parties being held to account. As described above this did not happen. The single thing that we have to thank Stuart Smith for was the fact that he confirmed the findings of Taylor, that SYP were to blame for the disaster. In other words, we knew that as he?d been privy to the material that the DPP had considered between 1989 ? 1990, there was nothing in there that had undermined Taylor?s findings.

Under pressure from many MPs, notably, Maria Eagle, Jack Straw ordered that all police officers? statements should be made available to Hillsborough families. They were made available in April 1998. They included the original and amended statements of police officers. Professor Phil Scraton had presented Stuart Smith with irrefutable evidence that police officers had been pressurised into changing their witness statements in order to deflect blame for the disaster away from SYP and onto Liverpool supporters. In his report, Stuart Smith had been forced to concede that SYP had undertaken an exercise to ensure that police officers? statements were edited with a view to taking out all criticism of SYP and inserting references to the bad behaviour of Liverpool supporters.Families? long held suspicions of a huge cover-up were confirmed by the contents of the statements.The volume and extent of alterations was much more serious than that conceded by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith.

Phil Hammond and I worked solidly for weeks comparing the original statements to the edited versions. We compiled a 64 page document which set out every amendment to each statement. I described above how, alongside legal assistant Kathy Durham, we had previously analysed all the victims? body files. Analysing the police statements were something else.Can you imagine a bereaved man sitting there and reading the vilest lies about the deceased and their fellow Liverpool supporters? Phil Hammond was a broken man at this stage of the campaign but he still soldiered on, more determined than ever to bring those responsible for the disaster to account.

At this stage, the HFSG had substantial witness statements, and also had the funds from the Justice Concert to conduct a prosecution.Furthermore, as stated above, the Stuart-Smith report had unambiguously reaffirmed the findings of the Taylor Inquiry that SYP were responsible for the disaster, and had confirmed that in 1990, the West Midlands police had not provided the DPP with any material that undermined those findings. Therefore, in June 1998, on behalf of HFSG, I commenced private prosecutions against former Chief Superintendent Duckenfield and Superintendent Murray alleging two specimen charges of unlawful killing and wilful misfeasance in public office.A further charge of perverting the course of justice was alleged against Duckenfield in relation to his lie about Liverpool supporters forcing open Gate C.

Shortly afterwards, both Defendants applied to the DPP to take over the prosecutions and discontinue them. In response, we made comprehensive submissions to DPP as to why prosecutions should be allowed to proceed. On 18th December 1998, after considering detailed submissions for five and half months the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that he would not discontinue the prosecutions and that they could proceed

By that time, the lads from Cavern City Tours had provided us with a rent-free office in North John Street. Those offices have now been converted into the ?Hard Days Night Hotel?. How apt, as the work that was undertaken from those offices was phenomenal. Bereaved mum Margy Aspinall, and legal assistant Kathy Durham worked alongside me and Phil. Margy also worked like a Trojan. Previously, she?d had no experience of office work. By the time that the prosecutions had finished, she was an accomplished administrator. She?d photo copied literally millions of pieces of paper, made thousands of gallons of tea and a smaller quantity of early morning brandy coffee. Kathy is one of the most personable and kind-hearted people I have ever met. She also has a fine legal brain and did a terrific job in talking to potential witnesses and putting them at ease. Together we made a formidable team even when confronted by defendants who had the luxury of being guaranteed an initial sum of £500,000 by South Yorkshire Police Authority to cover the costs of their defence.

It was an uphill struggle when faced with 5 separate judicial review actions in the High Court - 4 on behalf of the defendants to have the prosecutions halted, and 1 on behalf of the Chief Constable of SYP to restore funding to the defendants. In the Autumn on 1998, we had discovered thatthe Defendants were being funded by South Yorkshire Police Authority and that funding would continue to the conclusion of legal proceedings.As far as SYPA were concerned, the defendants had acted in good faith on the day of the disaster.

On 8 January 1989, accompanied by Margy and another bereaved mum, Doreen Jones, we turned up unannounced at a meeting of SYPA in Barnsley and presented all 17 members of the Authority with a huge file of papers containing submissions as to why the funding of defendants was unlawful and inequitable.How could they possibly conclude that Duckenfield and Murray had acted in good faith when SYPA themselves had charged them with disciplinary charges for neglect of duty in 1991? This led to a decision of SYPA to stop the funding.The Chief Constable of SYP expressedconcern saying that he would challenge the decision as it was a matter of importance to police forces nationally. Hence his application for judicial review.

The sum result of the judicial reviews was that the High Court ruled that the private prosecutions could continue but that the charge against Duckenfield relating to his disgraceful lie should be dropped and that the defendant?s funding by SYPA could be restored. There is an obvious link to these decisions which deserves an article in their own right, but that?s for another day.

And so the private prosecutions proceeded. On 20th July 1999, we succeeded in committal proceedings in Leeds Magistrates? Court and the Defendants were committed to stand trial at Leeds Crown Court on 6th June 2000.The trial was scheduled to last for 6 - 8 weeks.

On 6 June 2000, legal history was made when a jury was sworn in at Leeds Crown Court andthe families? case was presented to them. Halfway through these criminal proceedings, the defendants? legal team made a submission that there was no case to answer. Judge Hooper ruled that there was and so the prosecution continued. Murray gave evidence but Duckenfield did not. On 20 July 2000,Murray was acquitted but the jury stayed out on Duckenfield. This was in spite of the biased summing up of Judge Hooper who had instructed the jury to consider the message that they would send out to the emergency services if the defendants were convicted. This was absolute rubbish. What had happened at Hillsborough was not an emergency. Phil and I had sat through more than 70 hours of footage taken by various cameras from the BBC, SWFC and SYP. The crush and chaos had started outside the ground at 2. 20pm and had culminated in the opening of Gate C at 2.52pm when the central pens were already overfull. We?d had to make a compilation video of this footage to present to the Jury. The BBC at Leeds gave splendid assistance in this regard.

On the 24 July 2000, the jury announced that they could not reach a verdict on Duckenfield. On 25 July 2000, the HFSG met and decided to make an application for a re-trial of Duckenfield. The following day, the application was made but Hooper refused to order the re-trial on the grounds that Duckenfield would not get a fair trial.

I realise that I have skated over the details of the private prosecutions. They are another story in themselves, and I have promised the families that when time permits, I will publish a full analysis on the internet. There is an added complexity. I remain under the threat of a criminal investigation by SYP if anything that was disclosed to me from the SYP Hillsborough archive during the private prosecutions, appears in the public domain. That does not bother me. However, I hope that readers recognise that it has been quite stressful to recall such painful details. I was just the solicitor ? imagine what the Hillsborough families have had to endure.

This article was intended to be an Evertonian?s tribute to Phil Hammond and the 96. I would like to conclude it with a request to Evertonians to reflect upon the Hillsborough tragedy and a plea to respect the memories of the 96 at the semi-final on 19 April 2009. Let?s show some respectful solidarity as we showed in 1989, and as the reds showed upon the deaths of Rhys Jones and Rory Colquhoun. As Ian Macdonald repeatedly says, only for the toss of a coin, it could have been 96 Evertonians who lost their lives on that fateful day. We had been involved in serious crushing at Hillsborough the season before. However, in 1989, we had drawn the lucky straw and had been drawn to play our semi-final at Villa Park.

The Hillsborough families are a credit to us all. They ended up doing the job that the DPP should have done immediately after the disaster. Phil Hammond has dedicated 20 years of his life working relentlessly for the truth about the tragedy to emerge. Phil Hammond, my special pal - Get Well Soon. You deserve justice to be done in your lifetime.RIP the 96.

Ann Adlington

Addendum: Since I started writing this piece, another member of the bereaved families has died. Mick Lewis, who lost his son Carl at the disaster, died on 5 April 2009. When Carl?s body file was released in 1997, it contained statements of 2 ambulance men who had valiantly battled to save Carl?s life. These statements had not previously been disclosed to Carl?s family. We contacted them both. Qualified para-medic, Peter Howes had been summonsed from Derbyshire. He arrived at the ground at about 4pm. He told us of how he was met by scenes of absolute chaos. He was unable to get any clear information from the police as to what had happened. He confirmed that he had not received a major incident call, which might have helped him to prepare for the horrific scenes, which he was about to encounter. Upon reaching the ground, he walked towards a pile of bodies that had been placed on the ground outside of the stadium. He began to check for signs of life in each of them. He found a pulse in one of the bodies. That was Carl Lewis. Carl had been left lying face down with a shirt over his head. Peter Howes intubated Carl and instructed a police officer to begin heart compression. He then took him to hospital and on the journey there, a doctor inserted a drip and used a defibrillator on Carl. Sadly, Carl later died at the Royal Hallamshire hospital, Sheffield.

Stuart-Smith, whilst accepting what Peter Howes said in a freshly prepared statement to the HFSG, saw no need to interview Peter on the basis that his original statement was known to the coroner at the time of the mini-inquests. There was no jury sitting at the min-inquests, which preceded the main inquest by some 6 months. He just didn?t get it. Extracts from Peter?s statement had been read out at the mini-inquests in the form of a summary. The jury at the main inquest were not made aware of it because of the 3.15 cut-off time. Peter?s actual statement was not disclosed to the family until more than 8 years after the disaster so at the time of the inquests, they were not in a position to challenge the cut-off point. I defy anybody to tell me that Carl Lewis was beyond saving at 3.15. Because of the 3.15 cut off time, the role of the emergency services and the fact that the emergency disaster plan was not activated on 15 April 1989, have never been investigated.

RIP Mick Lewis.

Reader Comments

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Sam Higgins
1   Posted 14/04/2009 at 09:07:02

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Ann thank you so much for that detailed and important recap of Hillsborough and its 20 year legacy.

I was 10 on April 15 1989 ? me and and my Dad were watching the whole thing unfold on TV; it was just devastating for all football fans... god only knows the effects on those directly involved.

I have read Phil Scraton's books on Hillsborough and I have watched much of the footage of the day as well as Jimmy McGovern's drama doc. It really is a disaster like no other ? it came off the back of so many other disasters in the UK in the late 80s yet it is the one that remains so ingrained on everyone's mind.

The reason for this is due to the fact that it was televised, the fact that unlike the other disasters in the 80s (Kings Cross, Clapham Junction), the emergency response from the police was truly shocking.

The lies that followed, the treatment of the bereaved families, the fact that protecting British Law Enforcement agencies seemed more important than the lives of British football fans and British tabloids were used by British politicians to help cover up the deaths of innocent British football fans to protect these agencies, the fact that blood alcohol levels were taken to prepare for the cover up ? people, men, women and children, were treated like animals.... God forbid if Hillsborough happened now in 2009 - emergency response and aftermath would be completely different one hopes.

Shit, I've digressed badly ? but it's such an emotive subject and today I still get so fucking angry thinking about what happened. All the best to Phil Hammond who I know has been so important to the quest for justice in the last 20 years.

And to all Everton fans ? I know we are all looking forward to the weekend; I cant wait... but let's also take time to remember this weekend 20 years ago, when final scores just weren't important... when reaching an FA Cup final meant nothing. Let's take time to remember all those who died, have suffered, and who continue to this day...

As a message to Ann, what I've never understood: on the day, the BBC obviously took loads of footage of the disaster, much of it never seen by the public obviously due to its graphic nature ? but does the footage outside the ground show the South Yorkshire Police opening Gate C and fans rushing in.....? Surely a lot of this footage is primary evidence of many of the arguments which should lead to straightforward justice over Hillsborough...

I've also noticed that the BBC Match of the Day recorded that evening was on You Tube but has now been removed... It's like people just don't want people to see ? even now.

Colin Laphan
2   Posted 14/04/2009 at 09:28:25

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Hopefully all Evertonians will share the common bond we hold with those that lost their lives and the survivors. It could have been us, at the time it was common place to treat fans as animals.

I remember the eirie silence queuing around Anfield to pay my respects and walk past the Kop filled with memorials and tributes, my only ever visit. The feeling in the city that week of common grief, solidarity and unity. Thousands and thousands of us both Blue and Red.

Lest they never be forgotten ? nor the establishment cover up.
Andy Johnson
3   Posted 14/04/2009 at 11:43:36

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Phil Hammond and his family, which included young Phil who was tragically killed at Hillsborough, where neighbours of mine on Rosemont Road, Aigburth. I moved away from the city in early 1992, and until reading this extract by Ann Adlington, I had no idea of Phil?s huge involvement in the fight for justice.

I was at Villa Park on 15 April 1989 watching Everton beat Norwich in the other semi-final. We started hearing the news from Hillsborough very soon after the game started, and a number of people even left the ground to go back to their cars to follow events on the radio.

I?ll never forget that day. I don?t remember anything about the Everton game other than the score. The drive back to Liverpool was a blur, we began merging with Liverpool fans driving back as we reached the M62, and my endearing memory of that part of the journey was the obvious anger etched on the faces of Liverpool fans.

This whole sorry episode has nothing to do with whether you support Everton or Liverpool. The tragedy is the injustice that befell those that suffered most. I will have a quiet moment of reflection on Wednesday.

Get well soon, Phil.
Kevin Gillen
4   Posted 14/04/2009 at 12:23:27

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What a moving account of human endeavour in the face of such overwhelming bureaucracy and incompetence. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the background to your struggles. Every Evertonian I know stands right beside you in your search for justice. The police behaviour sounds more akin to the behaviour of fictional characters in a David Peace novel.
Damian Wilde
5   Posted 14/04/2009 at 12:02:00

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A very moving piece Ann, thank-you for taking the time to put it together.

The police, legal people, authorities in general ? a disgrace, no morals at all. It?s people like Phil and Ann and the families that give us hope that some people out there do have some morals and decency.

I knew a couple of the people you mention Ann, great people. RIP the 96 and them and their families are still in my thoughts and prayers, God Bless to them all. Here?s hoping Phil is well soon and that justice is eventually served.
Dave Brierley
6   Posted 14/04/2009 at 13:17:50

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Thanks Ann for a very moving and well-informed piece. The horror of Hillsborough will never fade and like others I remember so well the disaster unfolding throughout the day and many weeks after. The determination of Phil, yourself and colleagues is deserving of all our respect.
David Brown
7   Posted 14/04/2009 at 16:56:48

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The cover up and injustice that has been outlined by Ann above would not look out of place in Stalin's Russia. To think that this is how our Country treats its own people in times of disaster makes you feel sick.

It is of course a disgrace; unfortunately, no words can ever help the pain that these so-called leaders of society have heaped onto the suffering of the families of the dead and injured. After 20 years, reading the above brings it all back again like it was only a short time ago ? that's for me who was not really involved... I can only imagine how it feels like for someone from the families who has had to endure all the lies all these years.

Thank goodness for people like Ann; as she says, Evertonians can show their respect and support to the families of the 96 at the Semi-Final. Even if I am not there, I will be behind such a tribute 100%.

Rob Sawyer
8   Posted 14/04/2009 at 22:20:35

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Great piece Ann. Having been at the Villa Park semi that day it is a chilling thought that had the match been at Hillsborough I might have been in Leppings Lane.
Much respectis due to Ann, Phil and all the others still seeking to uncover the full truth of the circumstances of that terrible day.
Jim Reardon
9   Posted 14/04/2009 at 23:36:06

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As always you put others first, a great person whom am sure is well respected by all familes of the 96 involved.

Thanks Ann

Justice for the 96, they deserve.

Marie Parker
10   Posted 15/04/2009 at 00:32:21

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With many thanks to Ann, a true blue, a lady that bonds our city together. Thank you so very much for all your hard work. You have touched so many hearts. Luv, Maz xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Matt Traynor
11   Posted 15/04/2009 at 03:11:12

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Like others, I was at the other semi that day, and will never forget how the news started to emerge, from the message "Game at Hillsborough Suspended - Details later" on the big screen (we never did get more info), to info filtering through from those with radios.

The journey back was in silence, as all contemplated the fates of friends, family - everyone who was there.

The reaction of the city was tremendous, and even in some of the hysteria that occasionally envelops the place, it?s good to know the dedication of people like Ann and Phil to finding the truth.

Sadly, there are many miscarriages of justice around the world. More disturbing is those perpetuated by so-called developed countries like the UK, US etc.
Ian Macdonald
12   Posted 15/04/2009 at 07:26:50

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Ann, what a fantastic piece on a part of Merseyside history that is a disgrace and a continuing nightmare for so many. Reading your article brought back so many harrowing memories of that fateful day and the days, months, years that followed it.

It was a tradgedy waiting to happen at Hillsborough, aided by the SYP, who where a law unto themselves, always giving Scousers a hard time and treating them like scum, why? Ask any striking miner what they think of the SYP...

That word ?why? must have been repeated a million times when the knock on the door came to the bereaved families. I always remember that day and yes, but for the toss of the coin it could/would have been us.

At that horrible time there was no Liverpool fans killed but decent fellow Scousers in the main who lost their lives because of the contempt held by the local police to people from our area. That paper The Sun jumped on the heads and broken hearts of Merseyside people and should still never see the light in our local newspaper shops, The Times where just as bad later on. It showed the name gutter press at its best, why did they do it?

Until the families of the 96 and those that witnessed these horrific scenes see justice to have been done, they will not rest and feel bitter of the fact their loved ones where taken away by cruel decisions. Yes, those responsible in South Yorkshire will want this dark cloud swept under the carpet and hope the victims' families will get worn down as Ann says. But ask yourself this, if your loved one was horrifically killed by bungling arrogant decisions, would you not want justice ?

Ann, you are a special person; I hope yours and others' long fight for the truth to be accepted is won so that the 96 can rest in peace with their famles and their broken hearts mended a little. I?m a parent and feel gutted for those that sons and daughters went to a football match and never came back.

Sometimes I think the stigma given to people from our City played the biggest part in this tragedy and that's why I know deep down it would have been Evertonian?s families getting that dreadful knock on the door that horrible day back in 89 if we played Forest instead.

Well done, Ann, for this peice to remind us what injustices unfolded. Proud to have you as a friend. RIP the 96.

Raymond Burns
13   Posted 15/04/2009 at 08:42:57

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Although I don't know you, you lead by example and say it how it is, I would like to thank you for all the hard work you have done on behalf of so many Victims, and done it with your heart.

Well done, Ann.

Graham May
14   Posted 15/04/2009 at 10:25:51

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Great read then Ann

Merseyside together in the fight for Justice

RIP 96

Mike Owen
15   Posted 15/04/2009 at 14:33:29

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You’ve done great work there, Anne.
I once met Phil Hammond. A man of great dignity.
Paul Morgan
16   Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:06:04

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I’m not going on Sunday, but like many others have said, we owe it to the families of the 96 to show our solidarity with them to a national audience. I think we all know that as a rule LFC are more inclined to make "grand gestures" than EFC. It’s time we made one, big banner, whatever. We have to do something.
Brian Denton
17   Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:18:43

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I went to the Hillsborough Memorial Service today, and would like to share some personal feelings prompted by both the service today, and observations made by other Blues above.

I was one of the thousands of fans at the other semi-final that day, us versus Norwich. I remember very little about the game, and to this day have not seen the television clip of Pat Nevin’s goal. But I remember all too well the feeling of numbness as the news filtered through from the Liverpool game. Luckily I only found out afterwards that my nephew - who returned safely - had been at Hillsborough (hardly ever went to the match, got a ticket at the last minute for the Leppings Lane - just the sort of ironic situation which fate often decrees in great disasters). But that drive home, with my fellow passenger, who as it turned out had lost a friend, will remain in my memory forever.

In the days that followed, as more details came out and the full human cost became apparent, so many aspects of our society appeared in microcosm. The disdain felt by our Establishment for the lower orders, and its concern for back-covering ahead of accountability; the inability of the police to treat people with even a modicum of sensitivity (asking bereaved parents if their children ’had been drinking’ etc etc etc); the implication that the terrible grief felt and displayed was somehow a mawkish characteristic of whining scousers; and of course that disgusting coverage in the Sun which should have the journalists involved hanging their heads in shame for the rest of their lives. But above all for me, it really and truly hit on the Sunday morning when I heard of the Hicks family, both daughters lost. I went to look at my beautiful baby daughter, asleep in her cot and just cried. I cried again a few minutes ago when I had to hug her again. She’s now 21. How the families have coped with such dignity and fortitude is beyond my understanding.

It could just as easily have been us. My mind went back to 12 years earlier, when we played Villa at Hillsborough in the League Cup Final Replay in 1977. Like Liverpool we got the little end and Villa the big end, presumably as a result of the same reasoning by the police. The crush in the Leppings Lane that night was far from the worst I’ve ever been in (White Hart Lane 1985 has that dubious honour) but it was still pretty uncomfortable.

Finally, today’s occasion did remind me that we do (like it or not) have a symbiotic relationship with our loveable neighbours. We are two sides of the same coin. It was perhaps an opportunity missed that the - very striking - banner on the Anfield pitch which expressed solidarity with the Justice for the 96 came from Celtic rather than Everton.

Sorry if the above thoughts are a bit disjointed, but I did want to get something down.
Ken Finch
18   Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:26:44

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Seeing the comments from my old work colleague and friend Brian has just brought the emotion of 15 April and a later day - more in a moment - to my mind. I wasn’t at Villa Park in 1989 but went to referee a West Cheshire League game at Poulton Victoria against Heswall.

It was going to be one of my last games in the League because I ahd moved to North Wales and I could not live there and referee in England. Mid you, there were a good few who said I could not referee, period! I don’t recall any comments or aspects of concerns of what was occuring in Hillsborough being made around our game. Perhaps we were all wrapped up in our own world but at the end I wanted to know what had happened at Villa Park. When we got in to the club bar, the TV coverage was obviously concentrating on the tragedy and was so overwhelmingly hard to take in. How could such a thing happen?

It took me hours to find out the EFC score but it hardly seemed to matter. So many lives lost; so many wasted. They touched everywhere including local football - I remember distinctly the emotion at a Birkenhead Sunday League event shortly afterwards where people involved in the teams had lost relatives and friends.

But the day that keeps coming back to me and makes me want to cry is the day of the memorial service at Liverpool Cathedral. At part of it I was just driving on to the M62 to go to my sister’s house in Haydock. It was a beautiful sunny day and then a solo chorister started to sing ’ You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It may be the Red side of the divide’s song but it broke me that day.

It break’s me now as I type this.

Such a waste of life. Justice for the 96 is the least we can ask for and more power to the like of Ann Adlington and her supporters.
John Atkins
19   Posted 15/04/2009 at 18:52:00

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Ann your article had the tears strolling down my face for the second time today after watching the live coverage earlier - 20 years on I am still seething with anger at the lies and injustice of it all.

The biggest scandal and coverup this country has ever witnessed and mostly because at the time it was common and fashionable dare I say it to ridicule, scorn and humiate us Scousers.

As a proud Evertonian for over 30 years I was in a unique situation that semi-final day as I was working for the LFC sponsors at the time and was told I could not attend our game at Villa Park and therefore had to give up my ticket but instead i had to work on the sponsors coach to Hillsborough. After the guests left the coach i was free and i got to the Leppings Lane entrance at around 2.30pm to meet with my red mates and cousins as i had tickets for them, but couldnt get near to them as i got caught in the middle of it outside. It was strange for me as a Blue who didnt want to be there of course came to witness scenes that will haunt me, like many many others forever, so many questions of why? Such as why on earth did the FA (who should take their fare share of blame) allocate the Kop end (the large end) to Notts Forest. I remember it took ages for our coach to get to the ground and we had to pass by the main road where the entrance to the Kop at Hillsborough was located and from memory there was hardly any fans of Forest queuing that much! The police and the stewards they all just panicked and fans were being treated like scum, shocking absolutley shocking treatment.

Strange to say but i dont remember much after that as i think shock and distress erased my memory, you would think you could recall events but I don't remember much other than snippets like leaving the stadium with my mates, seeing people crying, queues of people outside phone boxes, getting on the coach and it being very quiet and then being home crying myself to sleep - I don't even remember us winning 1-0 at Villa Park, memory erased somehow.

Late that night the boys from Villa were on the phone asking what happened and checking if everyone was ok, we discovered Paul (Brad to his mates) didnt make it and that Col was in a Coma, he eventually came through and is still one of my best mates today (we still have our blue and red banter and apparently I am bitter and twisted, proud to be mind) -

I remember my cousin after Hillsborough quoting " There for the Grace of God go I" - Never a true statment said - it could have been me or it could have been my Evertonian mates and family that day if the draw had been different and i would have at Villa Park working!

I am taking my 2 daughters (12 & 10) to Wembley on Sunday for an FA Cup Semi Final (their first Wembley trip and indeed first Semi) and my emotions are, well all over the place

Best wishes to Phil Hammond and carry on the fight HFSG


Just a final point from today?s service, hats off to Andy Burnham the Culture Secretary who had much courage today to stand up at Anfield, he is a fellow Evertonian and Scouser who I feel shares in our grief and outrage at this injustice ? is it beyond him or his powers to do anything to bring justice?
James Rigby
20   Posted 15/04/2009 at 22:16:40

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I still cannot quite comprehend the fact that 96 people died at a football match and that not one arrest has ever been made over it.

Most of these innocent souls were from our home city so I was glad to see a myraid of blue scarves and shirts at Anfield once again today.
Kieran Carr
21   Posted 15/04/2009 at 23:54:30

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I am not from Liverpool, but have been an Evertonian for over 35 years. I was at the other semi-final and remember my total disbelief at what I heard on the radio as I drove back to Stockport. As a dad, I can't even imagine the pain the parents of those who died on that dreadful day must be feeling. I will be at the game on Sunday praying the Blues will win, but also remembering those who should still be with us. Rest in peace.
Simon Jones
22   Posted 16/04/2009 at 12:59:44

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Like many other blues I remember the day clearly. I was working at my Saturday job at the time, trying to hear the score from our game. I can?t remember anything about our game, but only remember how worried another lady from one of the the other stalls where I worked, was about her son. No mobile phones back then.

I know the article above is about Phil Hammond, but it's also about 96 ordinary footie fans from our city and 100s more who are still affected by that day. Never forget, it could have easily been us; we could have been filling Goodison yesterday for a memorial had Everton played at Hillsborough that day.

Peace and love to all.
Jamie Rowland
23   Posted 16/04/2009 at 07:04:44

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We all know how symbolic yesterday was and how it brought back memories of a very sad time for the city of Liverpool. I'm posting for the first time in 5 months to say how proud I am to come from Merseyside. Yesterday showed that even though our club rivalry has grown of late, we can still come together as a city when required.

Sites like this, 100% blue posted articles and pictures (Shankly gates etc) to pay respect to those who tragically didn't come home. Would we see this on other rival club websites? Man Utd/Man City... Spurs/Arsenal... I dont think so. Well done lads.... Jamie... proud to be blue and proud to be from Merseyside.

Marie King
24   Posted 16/04/2009 at 22:15:03

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Ann Adlington, The kindest most hard working person you could ever meet. A real eye opener to the injustices of Hillsborough. One day the families will get the justice they truly deserve .Im so proud to have you as my aunt, Ann.
Joeynkoo Ludden
25   Posted 16/04/2009 at 14:17:48

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I was wondering if the little rumours I?ve heard are true that we, the fans, plan to unveil a banner at Wembley on Sunday emblazoned ?Justice for the 96? and that Evertonians will burst out into a chant of ?Justice for the 96? also?

Is this planned? I think it is a great idea, and if it?s true, we should publicise it more so we all know. The rivalry between red and blue has gone extremely bitter, and as we all know, some things transcend football, and therefore the rivalry too. This show of support could do a lot to bring our rivalry back to the friendly one it once was ? well friendlier anyway.

We all know that Evertonians lost friends and family that day. This is a disaster that hit the city, the region and the country and not only Liverpool FC alone. If this rumour isn?t true, I would say let?s make it true.

Adam Drewery
26   Posted 17/04/2009 at 13:42:52

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Re: Joeynkoo Ludden

Couldn’t agree more. To show solidarity on such an occassion is a befitting way of showing respect to those that lost their lives so needlessly.
Danielle Murray
27   Posted 17/04/2009 at 17:21:38

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Ann, this article is a real eye-opener for fans like me ? too young to remember what exactly happened on that tragic afternoon. It makes you realise that, even though football is important to us, lives were lost that day and justice has not been served.

Knowing you, and how much you have done to bring justice for the "96" and their families, is nothing other than remarkable. It makes me proud to be a Blue, and be part of this city. I have just been reading an article in the Echo about the your fight to release those Police files. Don?t give up, Ann, the city is behind the fight for justice.

On Sunday, I will one of the first chanting for justice, hopefully along with 30,000 other Evertonians.

Keep up the passionate and dedicated work Ann, you really are a special person. Blues and Reds, we will never walk alone.

Claire Kelly
28   Posted 17/04/2009 at 21:55:22

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Thank you so much for this article Ann. Not only a moving tribute to Phil Hammond, but a detailed account of the dedicated work yourself, Phil and the team have done over the years in helping to uncover the truths of what happened that day.

The police and authorities acted disgracefully and decisions made that tragic day and on the aftermath were shocking. Yet you have worked relentlessly to expose the truth and help end these injustices and get the families the justice they deserve.

Get well soon Phil, Carry on the fight for justice and don't give up. The whole of Merseyside is behind you, both red and blue.

Garry Martin
29   Posted 18/04/2009 at 08:05:05

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It's at times like this that football drifts into the background and which football team that you support is irrelavent. I struggled on Wednesday to hold back the tears, thinking about how much pain all the relatives & friends of the 96 must be going through now & over the last 20 years. Let's hope they get their deserved justice.
Alan Armstrong
30   Posted 18/04/2009 at 20:34:47

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Wouldn't it be magnificent if Man U fans joined in a chant to for justice? It should make the FA hang their sorry heads in shame. We, the fans, are still being shafted!! Sunday teatime kick-offs, in London...

I've just spent the last hour getting alarms set, tools sorted, work gear sorted, for a 6am start Monday morning, after getting home at 1 am if we're lucky. That's a snapshot of an ordinary fan the FA don't give a shit about.

Just like the reply they didn't give to Peter Robinson (LFC) 20 years and three weeks ago to his protestations about Hillsborough, and Lepping's Lane in particular, based on the previous year's semi. The FA have been getting away with the gross misconduct of their own supporters on an annual basis since year dot.

Colin Grierson
31   Posted 19/04/2009 at 12:34:45

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Thanks Ann, a very poignant reminder of the tragic events at Hillsborough and the ongoing struggle for justice. We must never forget the way the relatives have been treated by the powers that be. Whatever the eventual outcome justice must always be sought.

RIP, 96 fellow football fans and RIP, AJ Clarke. I hope we find justice for you all.
Kevin Clarke
32   Posted 19/04/2009 at 23:46:37

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As Evertonians we don't all seem to be knowlegable about the terrible events of that day & the aftermath, but we do care. A very informative piece, made me think & still makes me angry that, in this so-called modern society, we?re surrounded by bullshit & lies.

Regardless, this cover-up is despicable. There's a disgusting attitude going on here, one of 'leave it & it will go away'. Well, that's not going to happen, EVER. The fight will never end until the TRUTH is told. The people trying to keep the truth hidden should be ashamed of themselves, they?re disgusting.

But it seems that the more information is brought out, the less likely it will be that anybody will be held culpable for Hillsborough. I hope that it doesn't take another 20-year anniversary for more ?information? to surface. JFT96

Stephen Marsh
33   Posted 23/04/2009 at 04:29:13

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I too was at Villa Park that day and I remember the screen saying the match had been abandoned. All we heard through the crowd was that people had been killed there but it was only rumours.

I can remember the excitement of winning the game, only to get the feeling of a funeral as soon as we stepped out of the ground. The air of silence in the car home was horrible, not knowing if mates there where safe, only to find out that next day that 1 had died and 2 where in a coma. It was the only time my mum who is a red said to me ’I’m so glad your a Evertonian and you went to Villa Park’.

As much as Evertonians have there digs at them over the park, the one thing that will always bond us is how we stick together over the effects of Hillsborough. A great piece written about a man with great courage, thank you Ann.

Justice For The 96
Paul McGowan
34   Posted 29/04/2009 at 12:19:43

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Like S.Marsh I remember the slow trickle of information as we made our way from Villa Park. Each step down the street seemed to be met with more tragic news, until it became beyond comprehension that what we were being told had actually happened. Even the police officers did’nt really know what was going on. We got back to the car and listened. We had already been slating the F.A. before the game for the ridiculous allocation policy (and they have’nt changed ) . We got back home as quickly as we could, it was only then we started realising the true extent of events. I only found out at 10.30 that night ,that my Dad was o.k.. He was at Hillsborough with my two uncles and mates(yes I’m the Blue sheep).

One thing I kept thinking about was the cup game at Barnsley . Barnsley’s biggest gate since the 50’s we were in the old open terrace, packed tight, people trying to escape the middle to the sides and further back. Gates locked and fans still outside. Five minutes after K.O. gates opened fans come in adding to the already uncormfortable situation. Me and my mate managed to get to the back before this and could see two girls pleading to be let in to the disabled area behind us, they were refuesed. About 5 minutes later fans were getting through onto the track behind the goal, one of the two girls was carried out, the other distraught behind her. After 20 mins or so the perimeter was full of fans let out of the crush. I read the next day(about 4 lines in a Sunday paper) that over 30 Everton fans received treatment or taken to hospital.
This was February 1989, you don’t need me to tell you which police force were overseeing the health and safety of the crowd that day!

Paul Niklas
35   Posted 29/04/2009 at 20:37:52

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I am as equally sorry and was devastated the day it happened,losing anybody inlife is a terrible thing , losing 96 football supporters of any team is something none of us would ever comprehend or believe could ever happen and my heart goes out to every single family member who were left to pick up the pieces of their lives after hillsborough.

If it were one of mine I really dont know how i would have coped.

I would like to make a point that will be unpopular but I will ,as I hope sincerely that Justice for the 96 means that all anybody wants is some acknowledgement that mistakes were made and after recieving that from whoever, the police the first aiders the ambulanceman, it will be the end of the campaign. If not then I am slightly concerned baring in mind what I have already said.

The disaster that day in my opinion was a culmination of many things and I wont say what they are as we should all know by now,

The point is it happened nobody meant it to happen and I am sure faced with the horrific sights that all faced people were shocked traumatised and in the main were not prepared for something like this, I feel /personally it is wrong to try and point the blame on any one person or group of people as it was plainly to horrible for all to understand what was happening.

All I want to see and I appreciate it was not one of my own and in that instance I would be looking for someone to blame, but to me it is time to honour those that died and millions have continued to do that, but for me it is time that Justice for the 96 means an apology and then remember that these people died at a football match and that a lot of good has come from that disaster to protect us all.

I do not want to appear cold I just think those that died deserve more than an apology, they need remembering in a positive way and not the continuing negative issue of Justice for the 96, it wont bring them back and the apology therefore is wasted on those that have sufferd terribly but will continue to in the absence of an apology that will not really mean anyhting from those that will give it so long after the event.

Rest in peace for the 96 and remember them for the people you loved the last time you saw them and not for what you are 20 years on persecuting your self about.

I an sure none of the 96 would want you to be unhappy and frustrated, they are happy now wherever they are and they want that for their families too.

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