We were formed after the justice Smith stitch-up, when substantial numbers of people involved in the disaster decided a fresh approach was needed. After 9 long years of ‘quiet dignity’ there was a serious decline in public awareness and it was decided that a rare pro-active approach was needed to redress that situation. The HJC is determined to seek the justice denied to all victims of Hillsborough and we welcome all football supporters or otherwise to join in our campaign for Justice. The following is an account of our activities since our formation;
The first meeting of the HJC took place in February 1998, when some families decided to join with ‘Survivors & Supporters of justice for all’. Once the decision was made, we began to find that the local communities backed a more pro-active campaign and it wasn’t long before we were able to acquire premises on Oakfield Road. These serve 4 important functions; office/meeting place/advice centre and outlet for selling suitable goods. We are open Mon-Fri normal office hours and every Liverpool home game at 134 Oakfield Road, Anfield L14 OUG. Weekly meetings are on Monday at 7pm. All are welcome. We can also be reached by phone or fax on 0151 260 5262. Membership of the campaign costs Â£2.
Public awareness of Hillsborough has certainly improved with our efforts in keeping it in the public domain and telling the truth about that terrible day. Our campaign of raising public awareness has taken several forms, including our leaflet campaign producing and distributing over a dozen different leaflets – each relating to some aspect of Hillsborough. To date, we have issued well in excess of 100,000 leaflets at football matches in the UK and beyond. We have also produced and issued over 100,000 ‘Justice’ stickers and our latest leaflets/stickers publicized our boycott of “Hillsborough football ground on May 8th, 1999.
Many of our leaflets are distributed at Anfitld and all away games. Visitors to Anfield are also leafleted and given justice stickers. We have also contacted every football fanzine in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland (including non-league) in an attempt to gain support from ALL fans. Nevertheless, we look beyond football for support and we have received it from sports personalities, stars from the entertainment industry but most of all from the countless ordinary individuals without whose support our campaign would be certain to fail.
Fund-raising is a vital part of any campaign. Our main avenue is a series of events, usually nights out complete with local artists who are playing for their ‘petrol money’ alone. A growing number of top bands have supported us in one way or another – to name them all would be unfair on the many (currently) unknown artists who generously play for free at our own fund-raising events. We also sell a number of goods at our shop; T-shirts, polo shirts, car stickers, books, framed photo’s, caps and our latest ‘Boycott Hillsborough’ T-shirts. Our fund raising helps to keep the publicity machine in smooth working order and fund other activities.
We will not shy away from entering the political arena, based on the countless political interventions carried out by successive Conservative and New Labour governments concerning Hillsborough. The political establishment has been instrumental in covering up the disaster, and New Labour’s pre–election promises have materialised into little or no support for the families or survivors. People who say politics has nothing to do with Hillsborough may care to recall that it was political decisions which forced football supporters to be caged – and it was politicians, many of whom had never stood on terraces, who condemned us as ‘animals’ and in many ways allowed Hillsborough to happen. One recent incident may well illustrate why we cannot avoid the political area.
Last year Merseyside’s Chief Constable was retiring and a replacement was receded. \Imagine the outrage when we discovered that the man selected to become our new Chief Constable was an officer who had been part of a South Yorkshire Police liaison unit, set up in 1989 to ‘conduct a campaign of black propaganda’ against Liverpool supporters. ]he appointment was to be voted in at a meeting of Merseyside Police Authority, a body made up of local councilors. We then drew up a petition in the short time available before a vote took place. We raised over 15,000 signatures backing our demands; despite our efforts, local politicians voted 11-3 to appoint Norman Bettison, whose role as a South Yorkshire police officer back in 1989 should have been spotted at the interview stage.
We plan to stand candidates at local elections to oppose those politicians whose political interests are purely self-serving and not acceptable to the local community. If we have to, families will eventually oppose MP’s at the next general election – New Labour could well expect a terrible upset If they continue to deny us justice. Our move into the political arena means we have already begun to make links with many other justice campaign’s and we do so an a basis of solidarity with people from all walks of life who have, like the Hillsborough families, been kicked in the teeth on a regular basis by an establishment whose concept of the word ‘justice’ leaves a lot to be desired
Our legal campaign encompasses both survivors and families of those who died, and we intend to pursue our legal battle in Europe should Justice be denied by the legal process in this country. As well as South Yorkshire Police, we believe Sheffield Wednesday FC and the Football Association have yet to be brought to account for their part in causing the deaths of 96 men, women and children, and injuries to over 400 supporters. Recently, a survivor won a high court judgment, which ruled his solicitors ‘Linskills’ of Liverpool were negligent in their actions back in 1989. We have plans to help survivors get proper legal representation, and have a number of case which will further expose the negligence of many solicitors and help any survivors of future disasters get proper legal, medical and psychological counselling if they need it. We have cases which are currently being considered by some highly regarded solicitors and barristers, and since our formation we have gathered vital new evidence which we feel has come to light because of our pro-active approach.
Hillsborough was an event wild forever changed many lives on Merseyside and beyond, and to this day we have seen justice denied to the families and victims. The Hillsborough disaster still remains in the memories of most football supporters, although for a whole new generation it is an event from another era. We need to reach out and teach this new generation what happened 10 years ago – that 96 people went to a football game and never came back alive. Even people old enough to remember may have been misled by the tabloid gutter press into believing that it was ‘Scousers’ who killed the 96.
We have had to contend with these despicable ties by printing and distributing our own account of events. We will be silent no more. We hope this article reflects our ability to conduct a campaign for justice in a manner which best serves the interests of the families and survivors. We are an open democratic orgart6ation and if we have missed out on some point, which you would like to see, raised, then we welcome any suggestions or question. We appeal to anyone, be they football supporters or otherwise, to show solidarity with our campaign by helping in whatever way they can.
Yours for justice,
Kevin Robinson and Gary Burns on behalf of the Hillsborough justice Campaign
Click here to visit the Hillsborough Justice Campaign’s website