Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman’s home was broken into more than once—and her address book and papers about the case stolen. The question is: who did it?
She told Socialist Worker about the burglaries as evidence emerged that a private detective agency carried out a burglary while working for the now-closed News of the World.
A police intelligence report indicates that Southern Investigations “gained unauthorised access” to the home of a newsworthy person “with a view to gaining information”.
Sheila told Socialist Worker that the burglaries of her home fit this pattern—as the thieves did not take items of monetary value. “On one occasion only my address book was stolen,” she said.
“I know private investigators were paid by News International to break into people’s houses and take their address books.”
On another occasion, after the inquest ended, Sheila got home to find her flat had been broken into. “There was nothing taken of any value on the streets”, she said. “But in the park nearby was my briefcase with all my Hillsborough papers strewn all over.”
Several public figures who were victims of News of the World phone hacking have similar stories of burglaries where no valuables were stolen.
Labour MP Tom Watson’s garage was broken into in 2009, and paperwork was rifled through. He says that during the phone hacking case he has “met many victims who had also suffered mysterious break-ins”.
Former private investigators and News of the World executives have denied any involvement in burglary.
Sheila Coleman also raised suspicions that Hillsborough campaigners’ and families phones may have been tapped during the 1990s.
“I assumed it was the police and that it was because of the work I was doing,” she says. “I would pick up the phone and listen to two Hillsborough families in different houses having a conversation.
“Lots of families would say similar things about picking the phone up and hearing other people talking. Anyone ringing me would say my phone would be picked up before I picked it up.”
She added that there were other curious occurrences that made her think someone was tampering with her phone.
“One Saturday a colleague from work rang me and couldn’t get through,” she says. “Anyone who knew my movements would know I’d be out at that time.
“My colleague rang British Telecom to say I want to report my friend’s phone, there’s something wrong with it. She was told: ‘That phone’s been temporarily disconnected on the instructions of the manager.’ My phone was working normally by the evening.”
It seems there are still more cover-ups yet to be revealed over Hillsborough.