Editorial: 'What's the point?' Truth and justice

Who will look at the role of the politicians in this sorry story?


We are guilty this week of something odd in a Sunday newspaper: we run the same headline on our front page, and we run an editorial on the same subject. We make no apology for doing so. "The Hillsborough Conspiracy" (Part II) follows on our astonishing revelations last week. Those detailed how a police constable's evidence was simply ignored by a judicial inquiry in 1997. His claim – that there was a conspiracy to get officers' stories straight, including wholesale re-writing of their statements – was true, we now know.

Today's exclusive report raises serious doubts about that inquiry even as it was set up. Jack Straw had promised in opposition to look again at the Hillsborough disaster. When he became Home Secretary, he – or, if he prefers, his officials – took just four weeks to conclude that there was no evidence to re-open the inquiry, and he backed them. Was that the best he could do in the face of bureaucratic obstruction, or was he following the line of least resistance? Or had he decided that taking on the vested interest of the police establishment would be politically risky?

Then, having decided the public would doubt this verdict coming from him – or, again, as he would put it, the Government – he "therefore" thought a senior legal figure should be appointed to review the evidence that had come to light since the report of the Taylor inquiry in 1990. Was this simply good government? Was it possible, having conveyed these doubts about a full inquiry to the judge at their initial meeting, that this didn't colour the judge's approach?

Maybe. Perhaps. The families of Hillsborough, though, smell a rat, particularly when Tony Blair had earlier scrawled on a memo from an adviser on the issue of reopening the case: "Why? What's the point?"

We headlined our leading article last week: "Our shame". We believe those guilty of failures which led to the families being denied the truth for 23 years include the London-based media, not excepting The Independent on Sunday. We failed to listen and investigate as we should have done.

Not only does Mr Straw seem to duck his share of responsibility for the scandal, except in the most fleeting of admissions, but he apparently passes most of the blame to Sir Murray Stuart-Smith, the very judge to whom he had said at their first meeting that the Home Office didn't think there should be a new inquiry. As we asked him about the affair, he quickly raised Sir Murray's awful gaffe with the families (a tasteless remark about the families arriving late, as some fans had done at Hillsborough) – the adept deflection of an old master. Had the judge done his job properly, he would have had a public inquiry, said Mr Straw. Not me, guv, has been the refrain of this fiasco.

Where is the humility, Mr Straw? The sense of responsibility from a Home Secretary who promised that he would get to the bottom of it, and who palpably failed? Much more admirable to stand up and say I was wrong and I am sorry. And what of Mr Blair? Just what could that scrawled comment mean?

The Independent Police Complaints Commission will investigate police conduct, including that of Sir Norman Bettison, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, and the Attorney General will look again at the inquest verdicts, but who will look at the role of the politicians in this sorry story? We need some answers from them.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power