Liverpool Message Board
you are viewing a single comment's thread.view the rest of the posts
I'm going to partially agree and partially disagree with you.
On the issue of not blaming all policemen or other emergency services at the scene I agree. I'm sure individuals did the best they could. However from what I've read so far from the report there was a real lack of leadership at not just the highest level but even on the ground from those who should have been advising the match commander.
I'll give you an example that goes to your point that the gates were opened up for the right reasons, I don't agree with you. Yes the gates were opened to stop or prevent a crush at the turnstiles, but at the same time those inside the stadium knew the central pens were at or nearing full capacity. That fact was not communicated between the commanders inside and outside the ground. Additionally no effort was made to steer the influx away from already full pens once the gate was open, despite this being done in the past to prevent a similar incident just a year before. I can only conclude incompetence or negligence in decision making took place as decisions were made on partial information when full information was available.
There were a series of decisions starting with the FA to award the match to a stadium without a safety certificate to not implementing the full disaster plan even as events unfolded (irony is the local hospitals did so based on information coming in from ambulance drivers, but the police and Ambulance service at the ground did not).
This is what now really irks me; the verdict was "accidental death". The definition of an accident is an event that could not be prevented, but a series of decisions by those in positions of authority could not only have prevented the accident but mitigated the disaster once it started to unfold. For that people need to be held accountable, which is why the next step must be the overturning of the accidental death verdict, a full and thorough investigation based on all the facts, and where warranted prosecutions of those found to be at fault.
That is not the individual PC trying to the best he can, or the paramedic trying to give the kiss of life, but those who led them and failed them, just as they imo criminally failed the 96.
I am not sure the definition of an accident is an event that could not be prevented. Virtually every road accident could have been prevented if one or two people took a bit more care. It seems to me that the disaster plainly was an accident. No-one intended it to happen. That doesn't mean the causes did not include negligence.
But this is about legal terminology rather than every day definitions. What legal definition would you put on it?
The purpose of this commission and report was to get to all the truth. Hopefully it has done that. The presumption that this would start to bring closure seems temporarily a false hope as people seem to want every event along the way to be scrutinised again for the possibility of prosecution. This would seem to mean starting all over again but on a bigger scale.
I am a little bothered by all this talk of prosecution. Liverpool people now obviously feel vindicated that where they perceived (and I didn't) that the fans were blamed before, now the conclusion is that a cover-up happened. But the question of prosecutions over a cover-up is rather separate to the question of prosecutions over the disaster itself. I am not sure we have learned anything new about the causes of the disaster (perhaps I haven't read that bit yet) and so there does not seem to me any more reason to prosecute people for the disaster now than there was twenty years ago.
Another problem is that the causes of the disaster were mostly to do with the stadium layout. The blame for this really has to be spread over half a dozen agencies and a large number of people. It isn't like when a ship goes down because the bow doors were left open or the captain was showing off sailing too close to the rocks.
I am not sure that prosecutions for the disaster are possible or even right. But that seems to be a minority view at the moment. There is a smell of vengeance in the air.
- 2 Replies to Robert M
Accident was the verdict and limits further action so I'm viewing it as a legal term. We say car accident but insurance companies will still look for fault when investigating so called accidents.
You are correct that the panels brief was to find truth, but the families goal is to find justice. For me it's too early to say prosecutions should be or can be brought, that can only be determined after a legal investigation of all new facts which the panel was not. But that is why I'd advocate a new inquest based on new evidence uncovered by the panel to determine if the deaths were due to any legal negligence or preventable absent legal negligence. From that the question of possible prosecution can be addressed.
I can add my knowledge and experience here of Health and Safety law (I work in the Uk construction industry) which may be applicable here. If it is and the decision is taken to go down this route it's an ominous sign for all involved in the very sad affair.
We have several regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act which are covered by law and administered by the HSE. The big difference with H&S law is that you are guilty until you can prove your innocence. Scary point no.1. The second biggest point is the term "Duty of Care". that sets out the basic obligations for all involved.
Standing on the outside, looking in, reading and seeing what I have several things spring to mind.
1. How can the FA defend their decision to play the game at the
Hillsborough without a safety certificate and recent history of problems from over crowding?
2. Where was the management plan which included the "what ifs"?
3. Why were Sheffield Wednesday operating a stadium without a safety certificate?
4. Why didn't the police question this?
I can go on but you get the picture. Yes decisions were taken at the moment but when you look a bit closer the whole affair stinks of failures in organisation and management all the way up the line. That is what any investigation under the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) would look at and sadly quite often the case with many "accidents". Decisions were made at higher, planning levels that can be directly atributed to the problems that happened.
Any prosecution under H&S law can lead to all sorts of charges including manslaughter.
Then comes the cover up which is obviously covered under criminal law.
I can't say if this is the way things will happen but I think it's a possibility from my little knowledge of this side of things. An opinion, an idea. I suspect there'll be a government lead inquiry first but there's part of me that would like the HSE involved. They are scary people, very powerful, used to conducting investigations and backed by law where everyone is guilty until proven innocent.