The current investigation of unreleased documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster has been
criticised by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.
A panel consisting of seven members, led by the Bishop of Liverpool, started the review of around 45,000 documents at the beginning of March, following a long campaign to uncover the truth behind the disaster on April 15th 1989.
But some bereaved families are unhappy with the process of the investigation and the limited conclusions
it can provide.
Sheila Coleman has been a member of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign since its inception, having originally monitored legal proceedings in the aftermath of the stadium disaster, which claimed the lives
of 96 Liverpool fans in Sheffield.
Mrs Coleman said: “The panel will report but it’s not like an investigation, it’s not a public inquiry, it’s not an inquiry that will lead to recommendations of prosecutions. The panel only meets once a month – what can they unearth?
“I’m very cynical about it. The report will announce that mistakes
were made but I can’t get excited about what is going to be
unearthed. It will basically highlight again the cover-up and that it
was an avoidable disaster.
“It will do some good in that respect but it’s not going to hold
anybody accountable. It’s not justice.”
The panel, which includes Professor Phil Scraton, who released a book
about the disaster, Liverpool-born TV journalist Peter Sissons, and TV
producer Katy Jones, has been directed to oversee public disclosure of
information and establish an archive of the files. Both the Hillsborough
Justice Campaign and the Hillsborough Family Support Group have met
the panel but Mrs Coleman says the HJC had “no input whatsoever” into
who was chosen.
She said: “Bereaved families found out who was on the panel through
the media, which, for me, is totally unacceptable.”
Feelings surrounding Hillsborough, and everything that has passed since, are still raw on Merseyside, as shown by the tension between the two family groups. The panel met each group separately and the HJC claims the HFSG “will not acknowledge us and will not have anything to do with us”.
Twenty years after the disaster, the families of those who lost their lives are still fighting for the justice they feel their loved ones are owed.
“The consensus of opinion among families is that individuals would take a much harder line than what I’m saying. People feel that they are treated as second-rate," said the spokeswoman.
“Some people say they should get on with their lives because it was so long ago but they can’t because there’s a fundamental injustice and they feel they are letting their loved ones down. They feel that they
have to fight because they owe it to those who died.”
No matter what conclusion this panel reaches, life-long Liverpool fan Coleman believes there will never be an end to Hillsborough, but a ruling that an injustice did occur could allow survivors to move on.
She explained: “There will never be an end in as much as there never should be an end. It should always
be remembered because it should never happen again.
“But if a ruling confirmed that there was an injustice and an organisation was held responsible, people
who lost loved ones could move on. Hillsborough would then become a sad part of history and could be archived in the right sense.”
By Chris Shaw, Website Editor
More JMU Journalism stories
Coleman has been involved since the disaster in 1989; JMU coverage of the 20th anniversary memorial