Socialist Worker

Sheila Coleman—collapse of Hillsborough trial is ‘indictment of the system’

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2757

Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign speaks at an event marking 30 years since the 1989 football disaster

Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign speaks at an event marking 30 years since the 1989 football disaster (Pic: Socialist Worker)


A leading Hillsborough justice campaigner has slammed the collapse of a trial as a “cruel indictment of the system”.

Two retired South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers and a former solicitor were on trial for perverting the course of justice. They amended cops’ statements to the 1990 Taylor inquiry into the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.

The judge ruled on Wednesday that there was "no case to answer".

Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign told Socialist Worker, “We didn’t think it would end this way with it collapsing. But we didn’t hold any hope of guilty verdicts, especially after the big players got off.

“I always had the feeling that getting the unlawful killing verdict at the new inquest in 2016 was as much as we were ever going to get.”

She added, “They’ve only made things difficult for the families, but they got on with it, no matter how difficult it was they turned up.

“It’s been torturous. It’s a kick in the teeth, but we’ve had many.”

During the trial, Mr Goldberg, a lawyer for the defence, asked if the police felt the disaster had been caused by “drunk, ticketless, rioting fans”.

Sheila was angry he “felt at liberty” to ask such questions when “the unlawful killing verdict was brought out by the inquests”. “Survivors are still being blamed for the disaster,” she said. “It’s gut-wrenching.

“We’ll look out for people and still offer support where we can.”

Verdict 

Despite the verdict of unlawful killing in 2016, not one police officer has been held to account. And, because proceedings have gone on for so long, many relatives and survivors felt they could not speak out for fear of derailing cases.

“It makes me angry,” Sheila explained. “The attorney general’s ruling said we couldn’t speak out in case we prejudice forthcoming proceedings.  But we’ve been drip-fed since the commencement of the criminal cases.

“They have silenced us into oblivion—or at least they think they have.

Inquest says fans were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough
Inquest says fans were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough
  Read More

“The important thing is the activists in the Hillsborough Justice Campaign aren’t going anywhere.

“We will continue to support anyone who suffers an injustice. The Grenfell campaign has our full support. The people who march every January over Bloody Sunday—we show them solidarity.

“And we’ll support families fighting deaths of black people in police custody. We will continue to do that.”

Sheila said the campaigners “can inspire others to carry on, and give help and assistance”.

Over the years Hillsborough activists have “formed allies and friendships with other campaign groups” and recognise the “formulaic” way justice cases work.

“It might appear like we’re disparate groups, but we find common ground. In the main, it’s miscarriages of justice, and it’s working class people’s miscarriages of justice,” Sheila explained.

“We come together, and all look out for one another. That’s the positive thing. We feel their pain and they feel ours—the establishment will never understand that.”


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