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We highlight Liverpool 'zine 'Through The Wind and Rain' - always a staunch supporter of the HJC and a voice that has kept alive and published articles on Hillsborough throuout the last 12 years. You can read all of their back issue articles about Hillsborough here

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Through the Wind and the Rain Fanzine Archives

Issue 29 - No Last Rights-Article - Book Review

This is a book which is well written, well researched and above all FACTUAL. It is also a dangerous book that can fire off all sorts of dangerous 'fantasies' inside your head and act like an overdose of PCP, It's contents are often nasty, evil and vicious. It mixes you up inside. The authors Scraton, Jemphrey and Coleman have the vital advantage of not being us ie; Liverpool supporters. We are faced with barriers we can never cross, no matter how we present our case, simply by being Reds or Scousers or just football fans. Whether they can cross them as Academics remains open to doubt.

The book includes sections on the Mini Inquests, the Generic Inquests, the Verrdict and the appeal for a Judicial Review, and the Media (featuring 'Cracker', Souness, Jarnie Bulger plus the obvious cases like Clough and Ingham). o Some parts get quite heavy, as legal arguments are made in some detail, but please don't give up as the message soon becomes clearer and clearer - this was a stitch-up Stalin would have been proud of. We knew that already, but that's not a criticism; if I've understood rightly, this book is not mainly for us but is reaching outwards.

Most of you will recognise some sections and the principal villians, but I very much doubt if every Red knew all the material in here. This dichotomy between thinking 'surely the stuff I knew already can't get worse' and reading 5 pages later that IT CAN is precisely what drives the book on. It draws you in, constructing a world so maddeningly insane that no Heller, Orwell. Kafka or even Ingmar Bergman at his best desolate could have created it. Yet this is no fiction, this is real. This is Britain, 1995. Or should I say 1994? 1991? 1989? What does it matter, they'll never change, because they don't even see a problem. They're not listening even now.

Your familiarity with the text won't lessen the anger it generates - it's quite dangerous in a way, because it actually makes you want to play out MeGovern's 'Albie' scenario. That is the other reason it's such a hard read. It strips away the hypocrisy, lies and bias, laying bare the injustice and cover-up in all it's 'glory'. The resultant rage can cloud judgement for a while; far more balanced folk than me, people respected for their integrity, have said they felt the same thing. An insane burning anger. The main 1~n 1 draw is for the future - the LA South Central scenario. Give people the fiction of Justice, and if you then snatch it away with a sneer when they actually need it, a powder keg could blow because they'll by-pass the mechanisms of 'Justice'. Who could blame them? Far- fetched, but not impossible.

The authors, and the families who clearly spent a long time talking to them deserve credit for producing such a strong piece of work. A strangely compelling book, too; you'd have thought that after a chapter or two the rest would be a burden, but you keep going in a sort of horrified curiosity just to see if it will get worse. Progressively, it does. The media section almost comes as a 'relief towards the end. The nastiest section is that on the various inquests, the treatment of the families each day at the proceedings, the sheer bias of the Coroner and the unbelievable cheek of the lawyers representing the police. Dean Swift once wrote that lawyers were 'men bred up from their youth in the art of proving ......... that white is black and black is white, according as they are paid'. That was 300 years ago, and that opinion still resonates today.

Reading the accounts of the lawyers' cross-examination of witnesses, and the quite viciously pointed questions they were bombarded with, those words were never more accurate. The book justifiably paints a picture of a world where any attempt to win was legitimate, no matter what distortions of evidence, twisting of witnesses' words or intimidation were required. Disregard the emotional violence inflicted on survivors, families and witnesses, that's fine if you get the 'right' verdict. The section which discusses the alcohol myth is just one example. That Popper appeared to aid and abet such disgraceful attacks on innocent people is a stain that cannot be washed away. Ever.

This is nothing compared to the way he allowed Super.Marshall to read out a 17 page diatribe against the fans outside Gate C, in which he restated the slur about the conspiracy by ticketiess fans to 'force' the police to open the gate and gain entry for free (p.100). After a day and a half of legal argument, Popper then tells the jury they must forget everything Marshall said ! That he considered this acceptable practise almost defies belief at the end of the 20th Century. Shameful is just one of the adjectives you could use here, the book's analysis brings it out very well. No criticism of the authors intended, but the section soon picks up an air of unreality, as it was too blunt and obvious a stitch~up to be allowed. You almost expect someone to charge in at the last minute, Hollywood- style, point out the injustice, discharge the jury, sack Popper and start again with the real intention to find the truth. BUT who could have done that for us? Who wanted to?

Read a few pages at a time, have a break, and then get back to it. Taken in one chunk, emotional overload is guaranteed. Sadness or rage according to the chapter. What struck me as much as the attitude of the Coroner and the police was the absolutely heroic self-restraint exercised by the families. They must have been boiling over inside, like Peter Tootle's family who went every day and never heard their son's name mentioned (p.190). You can't help but feel humbled by the sheer effort it must have taken to listen to a bunch of shysters insult the dead, the injured and Reds in general, and still maintain your dignity and control throughout. Eddie Spearritt said he knew it was 'a farm', but he kept turning (p.191). To deliberately string such people along for so long to protect your own is an act of barbarity, pure and simple. The other thing to come from the cross--examinations section was the testimony of Duckinfield It staggered me; the depths of police disorganisation, incompetence, failure to properly allocate duties and failure to carry out those duties that were clear. To be blunt, Duckinfield's unsuitability for the job is quite something to have spelt out on paper. According to his own testimony, he could not describe any specifics of the Hillsborough site, he thinks fans are responsible for their own safety (pl14) - so these confronted by the crush on the terrace should have just turned round, gone back out of Pen 3 and found somewhere less crowded! Whoever took the decision to put him in charge of a ground with 54,OW fans present wants their head examined. Duckinfield wasn't just unaware of football crowds, but seemingly of crowds full stop. Remember, this was 'the tragedy waiting to happen' - if this was the standard of police competence, I'm not surprised.

I call the media section 'relief'. It is in a way; we certainly know most of the names and the propaganda. Reading it again is worthwhile just to remind you who the enemy really are. That might sound out of place in a piece like this, but to me the purpose of the book is to offer solutions for the future as much as a condemnation of the past. This chapter should be photocopied and sent to every MP, so that some form of control can be introduced pronto on these pompous bile-filled ideologues. It is also funny (in a bitter sense) reading people like Andrew Neil (remember the Sunday Times description of football as 'a slum sport played in slum conditions watched by slum people'?) claiming that the media must defend truth and independence in the face of State Power. It'd be a superb line if it wasn't meant seriously.

It is also worth saying that the lessons of this book go far beyond Hillsborough. There are many lessons here for the whole judicial system. The control and ownership of the media and the entire system of sporting major events where many thousands of people are expected. Sorry for rambling here, but I haven't really tried to 'review' the book. Partly because too much would have to go in, and partly because Reds should be capable of working out the arguments for themselves. I would simply say it is immensely powerful, and though it takes some reading it's worth the effort. It had to be written.

I do seriously wonder who is listening, though. We've been saying these things, as have the families, for nearly 7 years and no-one has taken a blind bit of notice. As well as the authors, the City Council must also take credit for recognising the importance of the subject and making it all possible. I doubt whether it makes any practical difference any more. We will carry on the struggle, if only out of respect for the victims (not just the 96, of course) and their families. This book brings their pain and suffering out so well, it provides a very good reason to carry on arguing and fighting our corner.

Deep down, we all know the game is up. We've lost, like we always lose. but please read this. The next time some bigrnouth spouts off about April 15th, 1989 - it seems to be a national sport nowadays - use the detail of the book to shut them up. I'd love to lock Clough in a tiny cell, and read him this. and let him tell me again who was to blame. What I'd like to-do to Duckinfield, Marshall and about 500 others on the other hand .................

Rex Nash

If you have trouble getting Wd of it, quote ISBN- 904517 -306. 1 can only thank Rex for writing the above; after Rogan's book, I'm not sure I could have done another one.