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Hillsborough must break the logjam on police accountability

Hillsborough is a monument to the ruthlessness with which the Establishment – government, police and media – will readily use a black propaganda campaign to inveigle others into taking blame to deflect from their own mistakes which have led to disaster. The police and the emergency services, specifically those carrying responsibility to ensure crowd safety, were the very ones to lie and twist the evidence to hide their own neglect and incompetence by throwing the blame on to supposedly drunken and disorderly working class football fans.

These falsifications were then repeated by various public figures (including Boris Johnson) and most culpably of all by the Sun in is infamous front page. If this were an isolated episode, it would still merit full and proper retribution. But it is actually only the last, though certainly the most serious, of a long list of previous police cover-ups. And it is now the principles, integrity and quality of the police service which needs to be put under the microscope.

The police reaction to the shooting of the electrician Jean-Charles Menezes was the fabrication of a whole series of lies designed to show there were reasons to regard him as a terrorist. Similar inventions were used to excuse the killing of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests. Similar stories again were put about by the police to distract frm their killing of Mark Duggan which triggered the Hackney and then the national riots. Previously there had been the framing of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four.

Then there was for years the deliberate ignoring by the police of the abundant evidence of phone-hacking because of a dishonest and collusive relationship with News International. And since I first exposed the devastating evidence of deaths in police custody in the 1980s, there has been a continuous stream of suspicious deaths which have been covered up, with hardly any police officers prosecuted and none convicted.

The regulation of the police has always been weak, and the election of police commissioners is unlikely to improve that much. Previous prime ministers like Thatcher and Blair actually undermined police accountability by treating the police as allies in their own political projects, Thatcher to suppress the trade unions and Blair to show that New Labour was more pro-police than the Tories.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been merely reactive and generally feeble, most recently over the Tomlinson killing. The appointment of someone from outside the police service (Tom Winsor) ac chief inspector of constabulary is hoever a move in the right direction. But much more is needed. There should now be a Commission into the Standards and Management of Policing to focus on the in-built conservative, process-dominated and defensive culture of the police service which leads to their treating all criticism as a threat to their authority.


  1. themadmullahofbricklane says:

    On Friday at the market at Strutton Ground just off Victoria St in London the SWP were collection signatures on a petition in support of the families as well as money allegedly for them. I am sure that the Hillsborough campaign hasn’t authorised this and knows nothing about it.

    I have emailed them about it and I am sure they would like to hear from other parts of the country where this might be going on.

    An interesting take on this issue and others on the blog of Express journalist and Tower Hamlets blogger Ted Jeory with more exposes on the goings on at Tower Hamlets Town Hall.

  2. john Reid says:

    The lies cover up an incomptence of teh Police during Hillsborough was discusting Illegal and the Press were happily fed this but authorites trying to save face, But there was no Cover up with Ian tomlinson teh IPCC inquiry found that with the excpetion of One Surrey Sgt saying that Police had been pelted with things then they tried to resusitate, that there were no msileading commetns, In fact David winnick M.P asked then Commisioner Paul stevenson why he’d said the Police said they’d had no contact with Tomlinson when htey’d had and he replied No we nver said that, the press did say that tehy’d heard that the Police may believe that it was somone dressed up as A p.C who did it, but when the press were asked to say where the’yd got that form they couldn’t infact the 6 P.Cs who told teh city police in the days after g20 they’d made pocket book entried that Harwood had pushed Tomlinson over ,it was the City police who forgot to pass this onto the IPCC when the phone footage came to light.

    Thatcher and Blair underminded police accountability, Blair had Mcphersona dn teh IPCC and MPA among oterhs thatcher introduced the PACe reforms Taped interviews, right to solicitors, right to appeal, right to lay vistiors to nicks and all kids to have solicitrrs, among others,

    the police never lied about mark dugganone commnet from the IPCC there was a shoot out was incorrect.

    i could say that the Birmingham 6 were in the IRA and 2 of them were involved in thekillings ,the others new enopugh to stop it, but this is 40 years ago ,not 23 years ago,

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