Max Saffman Provides a Perspective on the Hillsborough Verdicts of ‘Unlawful Killing’
Celebrations greeted the verdict of unlawful killing delivered by the Hillsborough Jury yesterday. Celebrations borne out of relief, vindication and 27 years of fighting for justice. What the inquest did portray was a systematic cover-up by South Yorkshire Police in the weeks and months following the tragedy. Officers being told what to record. Statements redacted on orders of senior officers so that a picture was painted in which culpability of the police was either diminished or non-existent. A cover-up orchestrated from the top with the intent to pervert justice and even worse to point the finger at the innocent and the victims.
Millions of words have been written on Hillsborough and millions more to come. but this is not the first time South Yorkshire Police have covered up.
Battle of Orgreave
In 1984 the National Union of Miners staged a mass picket at a British Steel coking plant at Orgreave. Up to 6,000 miners were present and a similar number of police officers. As tensions rose, violence ensued. In total 93 arrests were made and hundreds were injured.
Nearly a hundred pickets were charged with riot and other offences of public disorder. The matter came for trial in 1987. The trials collapsed, lawsuits were brought against the police which ultimately were settled out of court. No officer however was disciplined.
Lawyers for the pickets described a culture of fabricating evidence by South Yorkshire Police. Does this sound familiar? This culture was not corrected by the time of the Hillsborough disaster. What had occurred in 1984 happened again in the weeks and months following April 1989, but this time there was blood on the police’s hands.
Where did this come from….it came from above. It was a close run thing between miners and football as to which one was most despised by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Her zeal to close the pits was matched only by her enthusiasm to clip the wings of football and the hooliganism that was associated with it. We all remember the ill fated membership scheme she introduced to regulate football supporters. She saw people who watched football and the miners as ‘the enemy within’.
South Yorkshire Police
How to defeat the enemy, by giving the police carte blanche to deal with the insurrection as they saw fit……and no need to worry about the consequences. Statements can be altered. Justice can be moulded. The police were untouchable. Well they were until this week and for all the positive memories people my age have of the eighties, they were dark days and yesterday’s events make that abundantly clear.
Max Saffman – Specialist Criminal Defence
Written by Max Saffman. Max is a Higher Court Advocate with in excess of twenty years of experience. He deals with the full spectrum of serious criminal cases including murder, allegations of people smuggling, firearms offences, robbery and drugs conspiracies.