By Steve Rotheram - 12th September 2012
Writing exclusively for PoliticsHome, Liverpool MP Steve Rotheram hails the end of the campaign for the truth about Hillsborough, and calls for justice to be done.
There were no celebrations on Merseyside following the release of the Independent panel report into the Hillsborough Disaster. Instead, there was dignified remembrance from a city that is no longer a lone voice drowning in a sea of ignorance and scepticism.
The families of the 96 have never accepted the Coroners verdict that the cause of death for all those that lost their lives was accidental and some have to this day refused to pick up the death certificate for their loved ones.
Nothing will bring back the 96 men, women and children that perished on that fateful day 23 years ago, but there was, at long last, some relief that the full and undeniable truth was out.
Hillsborough remains one of the biggest losses of British life in a day since the end of the Second World War and yet no one has ever been held accountable. That's why it still matters.
For almost a quarter of a century the innocent have been blamed for causing the deaths of 96 of their fellow fans, and the lies and deceit of the media coverage distorted the perception of many as to the true cause of the disaster. Whilst this demonstrates the power of the press in the 80s, it is the modern age of social media that has provided a platform for the campaign for truth and justice.
The fans were the real heroes on that day, not the villains. They reacted, whilst those in charged with ensuring the safety of others froze. And when difficult questions were asked, the South Yorkshire police chiefs produced answers that would come to shame a nation.
It is hard to believe that the response of the police, faced with the enormity of their mistake to open a gate which directly caused 96 deaths, was to deflect blame onto the fans, instigate a cover-up and smear Liverpool supporters.
However, Hillsborough belongs to a different era.
It came at the end of a divisive decade of ‘us’ and ‘them’ when football fans where treated as second class citizens and it was easy to get people to think the worst about them.
23 years ago, Britain witnessed a national tragedy the likes of which we have never, and hopefully will never, see again. As a result of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, a dark cloud over Liverpool that has cast a shadow over Sheffield, may finally be lifted. The families will at last be able to say that they have cleared the names of their loved ones, the survivors and the people of a great city.
The campaign for truth has been concluded. Now justice must prevail.