Tag Archives: Well Red

Justice, though the heavens fall

I was lucky, or unlucky depending on your perspective, to begin my legal training when it was considered Quite The Thing for everyone involved to know a little Latin. Quoting the correct words at the judge at the correct time would demonstrate that you knew your stuff and were one of the gang. Latin maxims and terms were scattered through the language of law degrees like Roman coins in the English countryside.

Thankfully saner counsel prevailed and, by the time I started venturing into courtrooms, Latin had been put to one side in favour of a legal process where the non-lawyers might stand a chance of understanding what the heck was going on. Most of the maxims I had learned gradually slipped out of my head through lack of use. But there is one phrase that stuck, although I doubt I could give you the correct pronunciation. It is this:

Fiat justitia ruat caelum

and it means, ‘let justice be done, though the heavens fall’, neatly summing up that right must prevail and damn the consequences. In a battle between procedural correctness and what is morally right, the latter should always win. Throughout history, commonly during the anti-slavery and civil rights movements in the UK and US, judges have invoked these words to give legitimacy to their actions when doing something the rulebook forbids, but which can be universally accepted as right.

These words apply perfectly to the Hillsborough inquests and the families’ long fight for justice.

The inquests relating to the deaths of the Hillsborough victims (at the time numbering 95 people, as 22-year-old Anthony Bland was still on life-support) were initially delayed while the Taylor Inquiry was ongoing and there was a possibility of criminal proceedings. Once LJ Taylor’s Interim Report was published, the inquests resumed. However, because the Director of Public Prosecutions was still determining whether criminal charges would be brought, certain of the usual inquest procedures were changed.

The Coroner decided to hold a general inquest into the circumstances leading to the disaster, followed by ‘mini-inquests’ dealing with the specific facts relating to particular victims, with a small group being considered in each session. Perhaps most unusually for an incident of this nature, the evidence would not be challenged under cross-examination, instead being presented as fact to the families. The opportunity to ask further questions was denied as the evidence could not be examined further.

An additional controversy was the Coroner’s decision not to hear evidence from after 3:15pm on the day of the disaster, as he reasoned that by that time ‘the real damage was done’ and death was inevitable. Crushing was given as the sole cause of death for all 95 victims. The 3:15pm cut-off time – chosen because the first ambulance arrived in the stadium then – meant that medical personnel did not give evidence at the inquests. A verdict of ‘accidental death’ was returned by the jury.

The families have, understandably, always found that impossible to accept, yet an application for Judicial Review failed and the Stuart-Smith Scrutiny of evidence did not recommend that the inquests be reopened. Anne Williams in particular, the mother of 15-year-old Kevin, faced with inconsistencies in the witness statements of those who last saw her son alive and the expert pathology evidence, has repeatedly sought via applications to the Attorney General to have his inquest reheard and death certificate amended. All applications were denied, citing a lack of new evidence.

Liverpool fans knew that the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report meant that the journey was only part of the way over. The truth is now finally revealed, but the unravelling and overturning of the many contentious decisions made after the disaster has hardly begun. And a stunning blow was to follow, as Anne Williams – having been so much a part of the fight to expose the Hillsborough cover up – announced she has terminal bowel cancer.

In a recent article for Well Red magazine, I wrote that:

for many of us, the steps that follow [the publication of the Report] will take place in locations where we have little influence, as inquiries and inquests are reopened, criminal investigations and legal processes resume.

Yet perhaps that isn’t completely the case. Anne Williams’ supporters are petitioning the Attorney General to bring forward the date of the reopened inquest into her son’s death because of her illness. At the time of writing, it has over 35,000 signatures – enough for a response from the Attorney General’s Office. So far, that response has not been favourable.

Please, if you are eligible to do so, do not let that response dissuade you from signing the petition. 100,000 signatures are needed to force a debate in the House of Commons, which could be vital in speeding up the process so that Anne may live to see its outcome. Fair and balanced Hillsborough inquests are already 23 years overdue and further delays are inexcusable. While the procedures may say one thing, the right thing to do lies in the opposite direction and so – as it seems unlikely that the heavens will fall – Anne Williams deserves justice. She and the other families have deserved nothing less since April 1989.

If you are able to, please sign the petition today. Confirmation will be sent to you by email, with a link you must click for your name to be added. Thank you for your support.

Photo from the Liverpool Daily Post

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Well Red magazine Issue 16

A captivating image from the incredible tribute from Everton at their match with Newcastle, which took place shortly after the publication of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel. It was the perfect choice for the cover of the latest issue of Well Red, the independent Liverpool fans’ magazine.

Issue 16 contains reflection on the disaster and the contents of the report, as well as the government and media responses to it.

I also contributed an article, about my hopes that the report’s publication can bring to an end sick terrace chanting, regardless of which club it is directed at. Take a look and let me know if you agree or otherwise!

The magazine is out now in Merseyside newsagents and can be ordered for you by your local one if you aren’t lucky enough to be in the area. Alternatively, there is a digital version available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices here.

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Well Red magazine Issue 8

What a year it has been for Liverpool Football Club.  Ditching two managers, one sometimes loved, one universally loathed.  Jettisoning two feckless owners with the assistance of unlikely heroes in the form of investment bankers.  In the process beating threats of administration, the likely docking of essential points and a potential relegation from the top division for the first time since Bill Shankly got us there in 1962.

At times it has seemed like the football was getting in the way of the off-pitch shenanigans, while Liverpool fans were desperate to get their club back and return to the important business of chasing title number 19. King Kenny being returned to his throne has done much to shift the club’s trajectory and restore the smiles to players and supporters alike.  At the start of the season I couldn’t have dreamed that we would be where we are now, building for what should be our best shot at success for decades.

The optimistic atmosphere is reflected in the latest issue of Well Red, the independent supporters’ magazine.  Issue 8 is out now and contains commentary from journalists, fans, website owners and bloggers on where the club goes from here, as well as interviews, opinions and features – making it a must-read for all Reds.

And I would be saying that even if I hadn’t contributed an article for this issue!  I was lucky enough to able to write about the friendship that has grown between Japan and LFC in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake, as well as helping to promote Quakebook to Well Red readers…

With the bilingual print edition of the fundraising book now available and this fantastic magazine on newsstands, that should be all your reading needs covered until the Premiership starts again on 13 August.  And you will be much better informed than if you sit glued to the Sky News or Sky Sports News ticker tapes!

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A song for Roy

There comes a time when you have to let the music do the talking for you:

You have tried your best to please everyone
But it just isn’t happening
No, it just isn’t happening
And it’s fucked up, fucked up

Thom Yorke putting it better and more succinctly than I ever could.

New owners, the Derby – the ‘pinnacle of English football rivalry’ as one slightly hyperbolic Fanzone commentator called it – and still Liverpool’s lack of motivation was the only thing that shone through.  We barely made it into the opposition half, for which I don’t apportion any blame to Fernando Torres, making his way back from injury and not, the last time I checked, capable of performing miracles single-handed.

Tactically we were all at sea from the start, content to let Everton take their shots and sitting back in the vain hope of a counter-attack which never materialised.  A team frustratedly reduced to banging long balls in the general direction of our lone striker must surely be in danger of receiving a right royal bollocking from the man in charge, though, you would at least hope.  Or not, if you had read Well Red’s comments on the match, including quotes from Hodgson’s post-match interview, here:

The second half was as good as I have seen Liverpool play under my management. It was a sterling effort from the players to produce that second-half performance

Of course the ‘under my management’ is a telling phrase when you are defending a run as dire as Roy’s: against a backdrop of one win, three draws and four defeats, perhaps another 2-0 thumping can be shrugged off as not the worst performance the team has managed this season.

But to anyone with even a passing acquaintance of Liverpool Football Club, capitulating so feebly against our Stanley Park neighbours must be seen as being in effect a resignation letter.  To head to Goodison Park leading a team so unprepared to put up a fight, with new players apparently unaware of what the game means to both sets of supporters, to be happy to share a joke with David Moyes as the final whistle blows, is such a serious misstep, it goes so completely against everything we demand.  It can only be the actions of a man who doesn’t want or expect to be in the job for too much longer.

Luckily, some of the players had been there before and knew what was expected of them:

For whoever wins, it will be so important for the fans and for the optimism of the club. We have to win

- Jose Reina

See, Pepe gets it.  If only our back four and his manager could have shared this desire.  Then our season would be looking, in the words of Thom Yorke, a little less fucked up.

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Hicks and Gillett, do one!

Almost three months to the day since we gathered at St George’s Hall to declare our independence from the owners of Liverpool Football Club, it looks as if the gig is finally up for these two particularly septic tanks.  As the Liverpool Echo reports that Gillett’s role at the club is now unclear following a default on a £75 million loan, and while Hicks desperately scours the globe for refinancing that seems unlikely to appear, although it may still be premature to crack open all the champagne no doubt being kept on ice by Liverpool fans, it looks as if the financial obituaries for the dastardly duo can at last be written.

Not bad for a fan’s campaign that some said was doomed to failure.

Supporters from all around the world have joined in, with direct action on match days, Hollywood producer Mike Jeffries’ YouTube film and Spirit of Shankly’s ‘Not Welcome Anywhere‘ message.  As events have unfolded, it has become clear exactly how far from the Liverpool Way as Shankly would have recognised it we have come, when stories of undignified boardroom struggles such as these appear in the media:

Broughton, Purslow and Ayre gathered for the meeting at the City of London offices of Liverpool’s solicitors, Slaughter & May, beginning at 3:30pm. Just 15 minutes before that, they received a faxed notification from Hicks and Gillett that they were sacking Purslow and Ayre and replacing them with Hicks’s son Mack and Mack’s assistant, Lori Kay McCutcheon. When Hicks had said on buying Liverpool in February 2007 that his was a “multi-generational family commitment”, nobody envisaged the appointment of another son in a last-minute cling to power.

This has led to a high court hearing to determine if the directors have the power to sell the club out from under the two Americans.  The Echo is also reporting on fans’ determination to make their voices heard as the relationship begun with such hopeful PR statements on the Anfield pitch comes to an unmourned end on London’s Strand.  While the campaign to get Hicks and Gillett out is one all fans should back, on whichever front you prefer – as listed here on Well Red’s website – we will do well to keep in mind as Spirit of Shankly reminds us, that it will not end with them gone.

Liverpool fans will never return to the naivety or innocence of financial wheeler-dealing that we displayed in 2007.  Never again will we allow ourselves to be bought off with a few pictures of grey men in suits from thousands of miles away waving scarves and shirts at us and promising a new dawn.  From now on, it all changes.  A real say in the future of our club, with fan ownership the ultimate goal, is the very minimum we will accept as we seek to create a new Liverpool Way.  One that links the strong traditions our club’s success was founded on together with the campaigning zeal and knowledge of intricate financial instruments which we have had to develop over recent years.  We are more qualified than anyone to act as custodians of our football club.  Whoever buys the club in the coming weeks will need to be aware of the millions of us looking over their shoulders, paying particular attention to the balance sheets.

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Well Red

Feeling a little guilty at the lack of new reading material I have been providing loyal ten minutes hate readers with lately, so instead here is a reminder to get yourself a copy of some of the finest football writing around when issue 3 of Well Red magazine hits newsstands next week.  Or order online here

The latest issue includes contributions from The Telegraph’s Rory Smith and Paul Tomkins, author of a string of best-selling books about the Reds.  There’s also fan reaction to the exit of Rafa Benitez and the appointment of Roy Hodgson.

It also features exclusive interviews with former Anfield defender Rob Jones and Liverpool-born actor, and Kopite, David Morrissey, as well as an extract from Tony’s Evans’s book, Far Foreign Land.

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you there is also an article by friend of this site, Mark Woff, alongside some biting financial insight penned by yours truly.  Which should help to keep you going until more regular posting resumes here!

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