By David Lynch
It would be unwise to doubt the patience of those who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster.
Twenty-three years they waited for the world to hear the truth – one they had known all along – about how their relatives died on April 15, 1989. That they maintained such dignity whilst fighting against collusion between police, journalists and politicians is testament to their strength.
But now, one of those most deeply affected by the disaster can be forgiven for yielding to impatience. Anne s, whose son, Kevin, died at Hillsborough aged just 15, has terminal cancer; time is running out for her to see the justice for which she has so long fought.
Kevin’s death, like so many on that day, was clearly an avoidable tragedy. Had the crowd been correctly managed, he would have lived. Had ambulances been allowed onto the pitch in the immediate aftermath, he would have lived. And had first aid-trained personnel been directed to help the stricken, he would have lived.
The circumstances of his death perfectly capture the dereliction of duty by so many which caused 96 people to die at a football match. The manner of his passing mirrors so much of the shocking revelations contained in the recent Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report, though they are facts with which his mother had to come to terms many years before, as she uncovered the shocking truth through her tireless investigating.
“It would sicken me if Anne didn’t get that inquest; it would sum up everything that has been so wrong about Hillsborough“
For that reason, Anne s also epitomises a part of the tragedy: the unrelenting fight for justice from the families of those affected. With the legal cogs turning as slowly as ever, for her to miss out on seeing the original inquest verdict of accidental death overturned would be unforgivable. It is a cause which has attracted over 100,000 signatures to a government e-petition calling for Kevin’s inquest to be moved forward, a significant enough figure to prompt a parliamentary debate.
One of those who campaigned in support of the petition is Stephen Hart, a Liverpool fan who carried Kevin from the Hillsborough pitch on a makeshift stretcher. When he was contacted by Anne s six years after the disaster, he expected a thank-you for helping save a life before the grim reality that Kevin had in fact died was relayed.
The news only strengthened Stephen’s belief that many more lives could have been saved – a truth which would only become public knowledge in 2012.
And so he knows more than most the importance of Anne seeing justice delivered. He told Goal.com: “Everybody keeps nodding in agreement, saying: ‘She should get her inquest,’ but nodding in agreement isn’’t going to do it. We need action and the only people who can do it are the people at the top.
“The very least they owe her is to change the death certificate. God forbid we have to go to the inquest and Anne is not there because [the original verdict] will get overturned. It would sicken me if she didn’t get that inquest, it would sum everything up that has been so wrong about Hillsborough.
“Let [Anne] see out what she has spent so long for. Let her have her day in court where all the witnesses turn up and everybody gets to hear exactly what happened to her son.”
That Anne s has had to wait 23 years for such a day to come is already one of the biggest failures in British legal history. To not move the inquest forward now would be to deny her a deserved emancipation entirely, a move which would simply add to the long list of injustices related to the Hillsborough disaster.
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