for diverse, democratic and accountable media
The fourteen jury verdicts delivered at the Hillsborough inquest on Tuesday bring to an end one stage of the tireless campaign by the bereaved families to establish the truth about who was responsible for the terrible disaster. The verdicts were a stunning vindication of the stamina and determination of the Hillsborough campaigners.
But now another campaign opens up – one for justice.
The South Yorkshire Police (SYP) chief superintendent in command at the match, David Duckenfield, should now face criminal charges. As should the SYP for the way it conducted itself on the day, its behaviour in the aftermath spreading deliberate and cynical lies blaming the fans, and its unreformed conduct seeking to maintain these lies during the inquest and right up until the jury’s verdict on Tuesday. The role and conduct of West Midlands Police, who investigated South Yorkshire Police's conduct for the original inquiry, should also be part of this criminal investigation.
There's a direct link between the last pit to close in France on 20 December, 1990, and With Banners Held High, an event to be held in Unity+Works, Wakefield on March 5 marking, with the closure of Kellingley Colliery on December 18, 2015, the end of coal mining in the United Kingdom.
The head gear of 9-9bis in Oignies, Nord Pas-de-Calais has been lovingly maintained by former miners, and around the area is evidence of the industry which once sustained the region. The “terrils" or “pyramides" (we call them slag heaps) have been preserved as monuments to coalmining.But close to the headgear of 9-9bis is a stunning new building, a music, drama and performance centre, Le Métaphone, which was the setting last year for Rock'n'Coal from March 27-29, an imaginative programme of exhibitions, films, debates and music.
It was organised by a group of young French people called La Berline Collectiv (la berline is the French term for the tubs used to bring the coal on steel tracks from the coal face) and I was there to speak on behalf of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign. It was a great weekend and it inspired us to re-run last year's With Banners Held High. That event celebrated the courage and resistance of the miners, their families and communities 30 years after the return to work at the end of the year-long strike.
At last we have the verdicts in what has been described as “the media trial of the century", but they bring little clarity and leave many questions unanswered.
A new book Big Media & Internet Titans (www.cpbf.org.uk) couldn't be more timely. A report in the Brisbane Times, 12 June 2014, revealed Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, spent more than 2½ hours at Mr Murdoch's apartment near Central Park in New York on Tuesday evening, 10 June.