The book that foretold truth of Hillsborough

Core facts about the cover-up have been available for more than a decade in bookshops

There was a dreary irony about the promotional strap attached to the 2009 version of Dr Phil Scraton’s book Hillsborough, The Truth, proclaiming it as the '20th Anniversary Edition', two decades on from the football stadium disaster. The Truth can be hard to get out.

It had been on sale for a decade by then, was lauded by the writer Jimmy McGovern as "dynamite, a brilliant achievement, a real page turner," good enough to leave The Independent's reviewer in "a fog of anger" and had exposed much of what we have just learned about one of Britain's biggest institutional failings and cover-ups . Yet this book – whose latest edition is up alongside Bob Woodward's works on George W Bush's foreign policy among the finest pieces of investigative storytelling of the past decade – was still minority interest. The problem is that booksellers don’t know where to file it, Scraton says.

He was the first on the list when the former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith went about establishing the nine-strong Hillsborough Independent Panel - for which the Labour MP Andy Burnham paved the way in 2009. A professor of criminology and criminal justice at Queen’s University, Belfast , he was reluctant to lead the Panel and the Bishop of Liverpool James Jones’ role became the necessary figurehead. But Scraton was the force behind the 398-page report published last week, unanimously agreed by the others.

The most significant new material within it are the medical records which demonstrate that up to 41 of the 96 who died at Hillsborough might have survived. This will probably lead the way to a re-opening of inquests into some who died, even though the families may not still not get the manslaughter or gross negligence verdicts that some hope for. A repeat verdict of accidental death, only with a damning narrative verdict this time, may be a more realistic hope. Many families want the previous verdict overturned but establishing that negligence caused death is fraught with problems in law.

Scraton also received more significant disclosures just days before the Panel published its final report, providing the final piece in what has been his 13-year quest to unravel the genesis of The Sun's notorious 'The Truth' front page. After a cache of information released to the panel by The Sun disclosed next-to nothing, a letter from Sheffield’s Whites news agency to London's Evening Standard provided a trail back to four South Yorkshire officers, whose concocted stories to the agency were so severe that some were “watered down” before they were filed.

But the core of the Panel’s findings has been there in Scraton’s work all along. Turn to Hillsborough, The Truth, for example, to discover his modus operandi in uncovering the fact that junior South Yorkshire Police officers’ statements were doctored. The book reveals how, after flicking through the TV channels one night, seven years after Hillsborough, Scraton alighted on a programme discussing how rescuers suffer post-traumatic stress. A quietly-spoke South Yorkshire office was telling the interviewer that "people tried to alter the truth… so that it could be a bit more a hygienic day for all concerned." Scraton sought out the transcript, found the officer, walked with him on three occasions in the Peak District and, with trust established, received a box file of doctored statements from him. The search for more reached the House of Lords library, from where four compelling statements were published by this newspaper last week. Within the aegis of the Independent Panel's inquiry, Scraton established this to have been a systematic process of "review and alteration."

His book is out there on sale, though it can be hard to find. Manchester Deansgate's Waterstones had one copy in this week, filed away in the Liverpool Football Club section.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn