hillsboroughmemorial6So, the Hillsborough Memorial is past and Andy Burnham has agreed to the need for full disclosure of all the facts for the sake of the people affected by the tragedy on 15 April 1989. The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police has publicly affirmed the responsibility of his force for the disaster. This means that there is some hope of people being allowed to move on in the light of the facts.

But there is still silence from the Sun newspaper about its own behaviour. So, I ask again: when will the newspaper do the decent thing and say something about its own role in reporting the tragedy and the distress it caused to so many people? So far there is a deafening silence. And it is disgusting.

No more to say until or unless the Sun comments.

For a personal account, see Alastair Cutting’s blog – excellent and personal.

It was so sad to watch, but, apart from the heckling of Andy Burnham (representing the Prime Minister), it was done with dignity. I watched in silence and in tears. Too many memories and the drive for truth and justice pressing on every moment.

And still no word from the Sun.

The closing minutes of the event demonstrate the pathos, pride and sadness of the whole event.

You can take the man out of Liverpool, but you can’t take Liverpool out of the man.

I have been watching the video reports on the BBC website, hearing again the stories of people caught up in the Hillsborough disaster twenty years ago today when 96 people were crushed to death at a football match. It all comes back and you can see how haunted people are by memories that time will not soften. (For a moving account, read the piece in Times online.)

hillsboroughmemorial4What has hit me afresh – having left Liverpool three decades ago, although my parents and younger brother and my two sons still live there – is that the wounds of that awful day have not been healed. They cannot be healed because justice still has not been done. The police are too often an easy target and I get sick of seeing them pilloried by the same public that wants to be protected by them. But the policing at Hillsborough was clearly responsible for much of what went wrong.

What isn’t clear is why the police service cannot admit its responsibility and put it on the record. Is it because to do so would open the floodgates (unfortunate phrase) to legal and financial challenge? Is it the insurance companies who are holding back what quite simply amounts to natural justice? Survivors and others involved need justice to be done in order to move on from this trauma and it is hard to understand why this cannot seem to happen.

I guess there are many outside Liverpool for whom this anniversary is just a date. Unaffected by the tragedy or anything similar, it has no emotional impact. That is perfectly understandable. But I would hope such people would recognise the deep trauma these events caused to those who were there, those who were bereaved and those across the city who just couldn’t come to terms with how a normal day out at a football match could end so disastrously.

To ‘re-member’ is to re-tell the story – to put back the bits of the story into a coherent narrative. We know that human beings need to know where they have come from in order to know who they are and why they are where (and how) they are. Therefore, simply and wilfully leaving bits out because they are inconvenient is wrong. Which brings me back to the Sun newspaper.

I have scanned the Sun online over the last three days and can find no reference to their shameful and despicable behaviour in the wake of the tragedy at Hillsborough. pretending to lead the way in respecting the memories today, they make no reference to their own role as a newspaper in making capital outside Liverpool from appalling slurs and allegations that were proved to be lies. Liverpool fans were seen to behave with great dignity and heroism that day – often in the face of paralysis on the part of the authorities – only to be scapegoated by this rag of a newspaper.

As Liverpool and her children mourn and re-member their story today, when will the Sun take its responsibility in re-telling its story and put that particular element to bed once and for all? If not, then all its coverage will be seen for what it is: shameless self-publicity based on selective memory.

Wednesday this week (15 April) will be the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster when 96 Liverpool fans died in Sheffield at the soon-to-be-abandoned FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

hillsboroughI was living and working in the Lake District in 1989 and was leading a youth group around Rydal Water that afternoon. When I got back to the car and switched the radio on in order to catch the score, it took my a long time to figure out what was happening. My younger brother was at the match and it took hours to discover that he was OK. I think everyone in Liverpool knew someone who had died.

As the anniversary approaches, the media coverage is building up and has been (in my humble opinion) sensitive, helpful and respectful. Questions remain and the bereaved still believe that justice has not yet been fully done.

hillsboroughmemorial2But the galling thing for me is the silence of the Sun newspaper on its role in the post-disaster scandal. Looking at today’s coverage, for example, there is no mention of the newspaper’s shameful and disgusting allegations at the time that Liverpool fans had caused the trouble, had robbed corpses and urinated on the dead and dying. Apologies followed – only, one suspects, because of the outrage caused and the subsequent disappearance of the Sun from Liverpool’s shops. I still don’t know any Scousers who would buy the wretched tabloid rag.

Is the Sun going to say anything about this episode and review its own behaviour honestly? Or will it simply pretend it never happened – hiding behind the memorials and the many moving human-interest stories? After all, it is only a matter of telling the truth and reporting accurately, isn’t it?

I am waiting with baited breath…