Campaigns - boycott to minute's silence

Since forming, as a proactive collection of Hillsborough families, survivors and supporters in Feb 1998, the Campaign has struggled to bring Hillsborough and the continued lack of justice back into the public domain on many occassions.

Many people are aware that all clubs now observe a minutes silence on 15th April following the group's letter campaign. In this section you can read on this and other successes the group has acheived, as well as ongoing activites.

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The Hillsborough Justice Campaign
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Trial Stupidities in Leeds 2000

The first day of the trial against Duckenfield and Murray was due to commence at 10 a.m. on Tuesday 6th June 2000. As has become customary families set off early to get to the court. Eleven years on and nothing had changed. On arrival they were told that the case had been put back to 2 p.m. that day. So once again families found themselves having to wait around in a strange city – once again waiting for Justice

There was great media attention but as the time grew near there was still no sign of their main targets – the elusive Duckenfield and Murray were nowhere to be seen. An explanation for their absence would later be given in court

Bereaved families of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign had travelled over to Leeds with survivors and other members of the Campaign. On arrival they queued up to enter the court. Several members of the media took photographs of them. They were recognised because several of them have been at the forefront of fighting for Justice for eleven years even though they were not directly involved in the current action. It was at this point that they heard from a television reporter that the case had been put back to 2 p.m. Conditioned by now to these 'inconveniences' they appeared unfazed and decided to have a cup of coffee and then wander into the city centre to pass the time till the afternoon hearing.

The court case commenced at 2 p.m. Still no sign of Duckenfield and Murray. Mr Justice Hooper presiding brought into court the police officer who was to be in charge of policing arrangements around the court precinct. Mr Justice Hooper began by stating:

I am obviously concerned that outside the court there be…in fact in the vicinity of the court and indeed in Leeds itself there be no demonstrations which could have any impact on this case (Emphasis added)

He went on:

…we are all concerned about any protests or demonstrations that could affect the fairness of trial.

The police officer in charge informed the judge of the policing arrangements for both in and around the court and added:

There has been an issue today with a protest group…and the police have been called and there is a presence in the court building at the moment.

At this point members of the HJC were all looking at each other wondering who had been 'demonstrating' and how they had missed the 'protest'. All was to be made clear. Alun Jones QC (for the prosecution) rose to his feet and made an impassioned plea to the judge not to allow any demonstrations that would jeopardise the case:

My Lord… the prosecution regard it as crucial and critical that nobody should feel under pressure in this case …. It would be highly unfortunate if outside court there were any demonstrations, any suggestions of any type of campaign.

Mr Justice Hooper then suggested that these 'demonstrators' could be made the subject of an order in relation to contempt of court. The police officer was then asked by counsel for the defence 'what the posters said outside court'. The officer did not know. Of course the reason he did not know was because there had been no posters outside the court just as there had been no banners, no protesters, in fact there had been NO DEMONSTRATION. Things were now becoming clearer to the bereaved of the HJC. As they sat in the courtroom they began to realise that the accusatory finger was being pointed at them. This was verified when the police officer stated:

I have not seen them [posters], I have just been told by the security that it is the Campaign for Justice…whoever they may be.

So it became official – the HJC were the phantom protesters! In the light of this alleged statement of fact, Mr Justice Hooper, asked if there was a solicitor representing the group. Of course there was not as the group was not party to the action. However, a member of the group stood up and informed the court:

We have not been distributing leaflets, we have not been protesting outside court.

Although Mr Justice Hooper acknowledged the speaker no notice was taken as the court proceeded on the basis of this mythical 'demonstration'. Indeed this was used as the reason why the two defendants were not in court. Their counsel stated that because of the 'protests' outside the court they were fearful of bringing them into court. The co – defendants were waiting in a hotel nearby. Moreover it was requested and agreed that in future the defendants and all legal representatives could enter court by an alternative route thereby avoiding any 'protesters'.

So it was that day that yet another Hillsborough lie was formalised through the legal process. Bereaved mothers and fathers together with survivors were no longer an interested party but were officially categorised as 'demonstrators' and 'protesters'. Indeed on the basis of this lie the judge warned them of what they could be prosecuted for:

You have breach of the peace, you have attempt to pervert the course of Justice.

Finally – just to be certain… he subsequently issued a order banning any demonstrations or protests within a three hundred yard radius of the court. All this on the basis of a myth. Alice in Wonderland stand up and take a bow!

Later on, in the penultimate week of the trial, there was a real leafletting campaign. The content of the leaflets (handed into and read out in court) were and impassioned plea to stop the prosecution and harassing the two defendants ( Duckenfield and Murray). It turned out that the leaflets' origin was the church next door to the court. The vicar was called - he denied having anything to do with it, and the judge just left it at that! No court orders, no contempt of court warnings.

Curious souls wandered insde the church to find loads of these leaflets lying around...


The HJC web site had become the subject of a banning order on the 14th April 2000 on the basis that it could be prejudicial to the imminent private prosecutions. The HJC reluctantly agreed to abide by this order.

The issue of websites was again raised on the first day in court when counsel for the defence informed the judge that the prosecution had brought to his attention a web page that had appeared 'overnight'. He read out several of these messages most of which were critical of the forthcoming proceedings mainly on the basis that the prosecution' had done a deal' in order to allow the case to proceed. This was clearly a reference to the judges pre-trial ruling:

…that the two defendants will not immediately lose their liberty should they be convicted.

The judge ordered that the web pages be faxed to the Attorney General for his consideration.

The Attorney General swiftly communicated with the web site as follows:

The Hon Mr Justice Hooper, the judge in theses proceedings, the trial of which started on 6 June, has referred to the Attorney General a number of pages that were copied from your website on 6 June. The concern of the judge is that what appears on the website, and what may appear during future weeks, might prejudice the jury in the trial. If the judge were to conclude that there was a real risk of prejudice, he would have to consider abandoning the trial and, in those circumstances, there is no guarantee that there would be a further trial.

The Attorney General has powers to apply to the court for an order to stop publication by you of material on your website if he is satisfied that there is a substantial risk that what you will publish will cause serious prejudice to the trial. The Attorney General has decided that, at this stage, he will not make such an application, but asks that you inform him, by return, of the steps that you will be taking to ensure that seriously prejudicial material – in particular, material that states or assumes the guilt of the defendants, or which states or speculates as to any sentence that might be imposed should the defendants be found guilty ( including material which states or suggests that there has been an agreement as to any sentence imposed) – does not appear on the website.

Clearly, the internet is a vehicle which has greatly disturbed the establishment. The potential power it provides ordinary people with in being able to communicate facts far and wide is obvious. Attempts to gag those who have used the internet to disseminate the true facts of Hillsborough serves as an example of how the state quickly reorganises around changes and innovations in order to remain dominant. Other cases of ISP's being threatened with prosecution for displaying facts critical of the state further illustrate how frightened the state is of this technology.

Families Respond to Demonstrators Allegations.

Families of the HJC were greatly offended by the allegations that they had been demonstrating outside the court in Leeds. They were at a loss to understand how they could be so defined when all they were doing was demonstrating their democratic right to attend a court hearing relevant to their dead children. These were people who had travelled the length and breath of the country over eleven years attending court proceedings and to those who have travelled with them the one thing that has always stood out about them has been their quiet dignity and modest behaviour- often at times when some observers have felt that their behaviour has been exploited by the establishment. If they know one thing its how to behave in court – they've had enough experience of courtrooms by now. No acknowledgement was made of the fact they too were bereaved people. They might not have formally be involved in these private prosecutions but it was their dead children that were the subjects of this case as well and the two men in the dock were there because it was their children as well who were killed at Hillsborough . Such denial of their status highlights how the establishment seeks to divide and rule. Sadly there are always those weaker individuals who cannot see the bigger picture and allow themselves to fall prey to such divisions. The fact that it was the HFSG that had highlighted the issue of the website and contributed to the discussion of 'demonstrators' is a sad reflection of the sectarianism that has been encouraged within that group. The fact that the majority of those in the group (who are good people) cannot see this serves only to highlight the exploitative nature of those in the driving seat of that organisation.

The following is an extract of a letter sent by HJC member, Dave Church (father of Gary) to the Attorney General, the Lord Chancellor and the Court Services Department:

My son Gary lost his life at Hillsborough on the 15th April 1989. Since that day my family and I have sought to have the facts relating to the disaster (and my sons subsequent death) established publicly. My family and I have never settled any civil claims. Although my wife is now dead I am continuing to pursue civil and possibly criminal actions. To that end I follow all court proceedings relating to the disaster. Even though I am in ill health I attended court in Leeds last Tuesday 6th June for the commencement of the private prosecutions against two former South Yorkshire Police Officers on duty on the day of the disaster.

I attended court with three bereaved fathers, a bereaved mother and a traumatised survivor of the disaster. I was seriously distressed by the fact that we were described in court as 'demonstrators' and a police officer informed the court that there had been a demonstration outside the court with banners and leaflets. The officer could not answer Mr Justice Hooper when he asked him what was written on the banners, I am not surprised as there were no banners to begin with.

On that day there was great media attention; I counted twenty-six cameras. They were as mystified as I was as they had obviously failed to spot the 'demonstration' outside the court. A discussion ensued in the court on the basis that the demonstration was matter of fact rather than fiction and it was on that basis that the two defendants were allowed to enter the court after the proceedings had commenced and it was agreed that they could enter, in future, through an entrance other than the main entrance. Also on the basis of the alleged demonstration Mr Justice Hooper issued a warning in respect of contempt of court and perverting the course of Justice. He also issued a banning order within a three hundred yard radius regarding demonstrations or leaflet distribution.

I wish to record that I, nor any of the people I was with, either demonstrated or distributed leaflets on that day. I also wish it recorded that I was insulted and aggrieved at my treatment in court – a bereaved father described as a demonstrator because I chose to exercise my democratic right and attend a public hearing relevant to my sons' death.

I felt intimidated by the allegations made in court and am greatly concerned that what I have witnessed to date constitutes an erosion of my civil liberties.

I respectfully request that you record my comments and investigate the aforementioned incident.

Yours sincerely

David Church.

Dave received a reply from the Attorney Generals' office stating:

I am sorry that you have been left feeling insulted and aggrieved at your treatment in court but regret to have to tell you that this does not appear to be a matter in which the Attorney general could intervene, since he has no general power to investigate either what is said in court or orders made by a court.

Dave like many of the HJC were somewhat confused that the Attorney general could not intervene in this matter yet could issue a warning in respect of websites and the ongoing court case.

Another reply was received from the Lord Chancellors department:

…we are responsible for dealing with complaints about the personal conduct of members of the judiciary.

We aim to send you a reply by 13 July 2000 but will write and tell you if, for any reason, it will take longer.

Why the 13 July? Obviously the trial is expected to be over by that date and so any such complaint will be academic.

Legal Arguments of First Day.

The remainder of the first day centred around legal arguments, in particular the issue of the charge that David Duckenfield had been guilty of misfeasance in public office, namely that he admitted at the Taylor Inquiry that he had lied to members of the Football Association (Graham Kelly and Glen Curtin) in respect of the opening of Gate C – he had told them that Liverpool supporters had burst the gate open. This discussion is worthy of note if for no other reason than the judges comments illustrate perfectly the gap that exists between the 'real world' and the judiciary.

Alun Jones Q.C. argued that Duckenfield had admitted that he lied when he gave evidence at the Taylor Inquiry. Mr Justice Hooper responded to this by stating:

I do not see a lie here. I just see that he hasn't told the whole truth.

He added:

Selective information is not a lie.

Mr Jones gave further examples of Duckenfields' 'admission' that he had lied to which Mr Justice Hooper made the remarkable response:

It is not an offence for a police officer to tell a lie to a member of the public.

So there it was – once again, that old chestnut- the fans had burst open the gate. If Duckenfield had not told a lie  when he said that then he must have been telling the truth albeit not the whole truth. Such semantics did not inspire confidence in the bereaved families of the HJC.

The fact that members of the HJC had been described as 'demonstrators' in court coupled with their knowledge that the outcome of the trial had already been partly pre-determined led to the considered opinion as a group to stay away from the proceedings-although it was accepted that there were individuals who felt that they wanted to be present and that was respected by the group. It was felt that there was the distinct possibility that the HJC would be a convenient scapegoat for those involved in the case and the group was not prepared to allow its'members to become sacrificial offering to the god of collusion.

The HJC formed the opinion that this latest saga in the legal history of Hillsborough was further redefining that which was relevant to the deaths of the 96. For years families had railed against the imposition of the 3.15 p.m. cut off. Yet here we had counsel for the families agreeing to a 3.06 p.m. cut off. It is the view of the HJC that each and every legal procedure concerning Hillsborough has served the interests of the establishment far more that it has ever brought the families any nearer to establishing the truth. These private prosecutions were no exception. At each legal stage the lies of Hillsborough have become deeper enshrined within a legal framework and the time of 'relevant' evidence has become shorter and shorter. The private prosecutions have been largely a rerun of the inquests with a senior police officer giving evidence about the 'drunken, ticketless, hooligans'.