David Blunkett seems to be one of many who have been misled by police lies about those who died at Hillsborough. When contacted recently by the Liverpool Echo here Blunkett sent a note that said:
“Please see speeches in the Commons, which included a clear reiteration on several occasions that those killed and maimed in the disaster had by the very nature of their location in the ground, been at the match very early and could never be blamed in any way for what happened.”
This seems to be based on one of the myths about the Hillsborough disaster that was peddled by the South Yorkshire Police as part of their plan to divert blame away from themselves and on to other Liverpool fans. According to this myth those who died had been in the ground very early on the afternoon of the disaster. A number of police officers claimed in their witness statements and evidence that those arriving early were as they described them “decent family types” and included children, family groups and older spectators. In the make-belief world of the SYP it was these people who were killed when a “tanked up mob” consisting mainly of drunken younger men arrived at the ground close to kick off in such large numbers that the police were overwhelmed and had little choice but to open an exit gate. That allowed a tide of people to enter the stadium, many of whom rushed down the tunnel and killed the innocent fans at the front nearest to the perimeter fences.
The CCTV footage from the day, available to the police at the time, showed this was complete nonsense. Those who were in the pens from early on that afternoon were just the same as those who came in later in the day. They were ordinary football fans of different ages, predominantly young people, men and women. The CCTV footage and still photographs of the crowd also showed many of those who died were still outside the turnstiles at around 2.50pm that day, just ten minutes before kick off.
One of those who had peddled this SYP particular lie for as long as any was a certain Paul Middup. At the time of the disaster he was national chairman of the Police Federation representing 100,000 officers. He seems to have had little hesitation in appearing on television in the days after the disaster giving vent to his opinions about the responsibility of the Liverpool supporters for the disaster. When he gave evidence to the recent Inquests in February 2015 it was apparent he still believed the old police lies and hadn’t bothered at any point in the intervening twenty-six years to try to educate himself as to what really happened.
In a witness statement he had provided Mr Middup had said:
“When the order was given finally for the gate to be opened, the fans rushed in and went down the tunnel, something like a human train, and forced the people at the front onto the fencing.”
When questioned on 13th February 2015 the following exchange with Mr Middup took place:
Q. You were completely ignorant, weren’t you, that amongst these fans that you described as a mob were people who died in the pens a few minutes later? A. I didn’t know that until yesterday.
Q. Well, that is what I was going to ask you next. Do I understand this, Mr Middup, that, at least until yesterday, your view of this disaster was that these fans had rushed in through this exit gate, down the tunnel, like, as you described it in your interviews, a “human train”, had crushed the innocent people at the front who had been in the ground in good time onto the fencing, and that’s how they died? A. Yes.
Q. So this is the group, is it, this “mob”, “tanked up”, as you elsewhere describe them, who are, at least in your view, partly to blame for this disaster? A. That’s the view — that was the view of my members and, yes, I did believe it to be partly to blame for it, yes.
Q. But yesterday, apparently for the very first time, you learnt that, in fact, some of those who died in those pens were part of those very fans you describe as the mob rushing into the ground? A. I heard that yesterday for the very first time, but I still don’t know how many of those people were affected.”
The truth that for so long Mr Middup couldn’t be bothered to face is that many of those who were caught in the deadly crush and barely escaped with their lives only entered the ground after 2.52pm when the exit gate C was opened on the orders of Chief Superintendent Duckenfield, the match commander. Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the 96 who died entered the ground in that way.
So the evidence as heard by the jury, but which people like Mr Middup could have discovered at the time, showed that the police fiction was just that and bore no relation to the truth. Such myths, sufficient to persuade politicians like David Blunkett of their truth, became part of the widely accepted narrative of the disaster and it is one of the great achievements of the recent Inquests that this, along with many other lies peddled by SYP for so many years, can now be consigned to the dustbin of history.