No end to the s*n's sorry tale

Hillsborough remembrance and related information

Postby mottman » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:48 pm

The row over the red top's Hillsborough front page goes on, writes Mark Lupton
Monday January 31, 2005
The Guardian
Contrition and humility are not words normally associated with the Sxn newspaper. Holding up its hands and admitting it made a mistake is not its style. But one mistake has cost it dearly for the past 15 years, and the paper's management appears to have realised by how much. On April 18, 1989, just three days after 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in the Hillsborough soccer tragedy, the Sxn printed "The Truth" about what happened at the FA cup semi final in Sheffield. Quoting unnamed police sources, the Sxn said "some fans" had urinated on the dead, pickpocketed bodies, and beaten up a police officer giving the kiss of life. Merseyside reacted with revulsion and a boycott of the paper was soon under way. Sales are still down from about 55,000 to 12,000 a day. Many newsagents refuse to sell it and those that do only keep a handful of copies.

Last year, the Sxn printed a grovelling apology for what it described as the worst mistake in its history. The apology was publicly rejected by the families of Hillsborough victims, but what has not been reported is that Sxn executives made strenuous efforts, before the apology was made, to secure the support of several families. A BBC documentary, due to be broadcast next month, filmed the delicate negotiations: "If countries can go to war and be friends in 15 years then can't the Sxn and Merseyside do that as well?" asks Sxn managing editor Graham Dudman in the film.

Dudman's intervention, which also included appearances on local radio phone-ins, came after the paper's deal to tell Wayne Rooney's life story attracted renewed vilification in the city. Rooney was lambasted in the local press for "betraying" his roots.

"He [Rooney] was being vilified locally in the papers, on the web and on the radio stations, and having abuse hurled at him, and all for talking to the Sxn. And we thought, well this is getting ridiculous now so we'll apologise," Dudman says.

The editor responsible for The Truth front page, Kelvin MacKenzie, had said sorry when the Press Complaints Commission condemned the story as "insensitive, provocative and unwarranted". But last summer was the first time the paper had gone on the record to say it got it wrong. The Sxn said: "Our carelessness and thoughtlessness following that blackest of days made the grief of their families and friends even harder to bear."

In the documentary, Dudman says: "What we did was a terrible mistake. It was a terrible, insensitive, horrible article, with a dreadful headline; but what we'd also say is: we have apologised for it, and the entire senior team here now is completely different from the team that put the paper out in 1989."

The apology's timing - after the Rooney deal - was pounced on as evidence of cynical opportunism. Liverpool's local newspapers - run by Trinity Mirror, owners of the Sxn's arch nemesis the Daily Mirror - led the vitriolic counter-attack. It was clear more was needed from the paper if it was to get what it wanted - an end to the boycott. Dudman travelled to Liverpool in August in a bid to secure talks with the Hillsborough Family Support Group. His appeal for forgiveness included an offer to campaign for the families in their continuing fight for justice - if they accepted the apology. Four family members tentatively met him and after much persuasion agreed to put his appeal to the group as a whole. However, when the group met at Anfield, with Dudman waiting at a hotel to hear the outcome, it voted to refuse him an audience.

Dudman's visit represents a big setback for the paper. Although lines of communication were kept open shortly afterwards, dialogue between the two sides appears to have ground to a halt. Without an agreement with the families, it is difficult to see how sales could recover on Merseyside.

At the meeting with the four family members, Dudman argued that other papers had run similar stories to the Sxn that day - all of which had obtained their information from the police. But it was the Sxn's insistence that its version was the Truth which was to prove its undoing. It was also held partly responsible for a perception among the families of Hillsborough victims that they have never really had "justice" over what happened - no one has been held to account and a private prosecution against the police collapsed.

Ultimately, the Sxn's struggle to convince Merseyside of its genuine contrition is held back by an overwhelming belief that its motives are cynical. Scousers think that it only wants the boycott overturned so it can start making money again in Liverpool. But if MacKenzie was ultimately responsible as editor - why not boycott anything associated with him, including TalkSport where he works?

"Of course, the Sxn is about selling newspapers, that's what we do for our business," says Dudman. "But we are not a cruel or nasty or vindictive paper ... we really do mean it when we say we are sorry."

The Sxn Says Sorry and Other Tales of Forgiveness is broadcast on BBC2 on Monday, February 14 at 9pm.
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Postby mottman » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:49 pm

The city that eclipsed the Sxn
Taken from today's Observer:
Fifteen years after the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool still can't forgive the newspaper that piled insult on injury. So can it forgive Wayne Rooney for taking the Murdoch shilling? David Smith reports,1563,1258627,00.html

Sunday July 11, 2004
The Observer

It's 10pm in the Western Approaches pub and Stevie Gay, who often drinks here with Wayne Rooney's dad, is holding court. Suddenly he puts his pint of Carling on the table and turns serious, the smile fading from his lips. 'I was at Hillsborough. I saw them dragging people up by their scarves, trying to save them,' he says, mimicking the action with his hands. 'They were bringing them up the barriers and getting them on the pitch. I heard a scream: "This lad is dead." It was a horrible sight. All the dead bodies.'
Gay, 49, also remembers the newspaper headline that cuts as deep as ever in Liverpool and, more than 15 years after English football's worst disaster, still asks questions about the city's sense of identity in relation to the rest of Britain. 'The Sun said they were robbing the dead. It was all lies. If anyone was looking through people's pockets, it was for their IDs. The Sun is scum and nobody in this pub buys it.'

The Western Approaches - in drug- and crime-plagued Croxteth in inner-city Liverpool - was once Wayne Rooney's local and is still frequented by his father, siblings and cousins. On the cream-painted walls is a framed team photo of the Croxteth amateur boxing squad, naming its secretary as Richie Rooney. Tonight another young Rooney, who in blue T-shirt and tracksuit bottoms is the image of his famous cousin, is standing near the jukebox, watching darts. When an Observer reporter enters the room the laughter dies. There is a hostile silence. 'Gettout!' shouts someone. Journalists are not welcome here.

And some are less welcome than others. Those from the Sun must still answer for the sins of their predecessors. In April 1989, four days after 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death on the terraces at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, Britain's bestselling daily ran the front page headline 'The Truth'. Below it were three subheadings: 'Some fans picked pockets of victims'; 'Some fans urinated on the brave cops'; 'Some fans beat up PCs giving the kiss of life'. All were lies. The Taylor Inquiry after the disaster found that fans had responded quicker than the emergency services, performing several acts of heroism.

Copies of the Sun were burnt in the city's streets and many newsagents refused to sell it. It has still not fully recovered: while the paper sells 3.3 million copies nationwide, it shifts only 12,000 in Liverpool. One rival publication calculated that, given an average cover price of 20p over 15 years, editor Kelvin MacKenzie's catastrophic misjudgment has cost owner Rupert Murdoch around £55 million in lost circulation.

Enter Wayne Rooney, superstar of Everton and hero of England's recent Euro 2004 campaign. The 18-year-old's decision to sell his life story - 'world exclusive' revelations that he and his fiancée love each other, watch EastEnders and have a dog called Fiz - for £250,000 to the Sun and its sister paper, the News of the World , was guaranteed to test his folk hero status like nothing else. As in 1992, when Liverpool manager Graeme Souness took the paper's shilling, radio phone-ins were jammed. Fans wrote letters or emails saying they were 'sickened'. Red-blue rivalries on the field were irrelevant: Everton and Liverpool fans are united in hatred of the Sun.

Leading the condemnation of the deal is Jimmy McGovern, writer of the TV drama documentary Hillsborough. He said last night: 'Footballers today are on massive wages because 96 fans died at Hillsborough and Lord Justice Taylor had to drag the game into the modern era. Footballers should never forget it. Local lads especially. Locally born footballers have an enormous responsibilty to the Hillsborough dead. That is hard, I know. They are only young men. But, tough, they have it. So for Wayne Rooney to sell his story to the Sun is a disgrace.'

For men like Stevie Gay, who lost friends at Hillsborough and used to take young Wayne to watch boxing, there is a potential conflict of loyalties. But he had no doubt where the responsibility lies. 'He's been badly advised, and his agent has made a few quid. Wayne has proved himself to the world, and no one should blame him.'

Others in The Western Approaches shared a fierce allegiance to Rooney that is matched only by their revulsion towards the Sun. John McCormick, 64, a retired labourer, said: 'The Sun is a disgrace. I won't have it in the house. It doesn't matter how often they apologise because it's too late. I will never forgive the Sun. I can imagine Wayne Rooney's family are upset. If I was his dad I'd have given him a smack. But he was only three years old at the time of Hillsborough. He's been misdirected by his agent and should get rid of him.'

Rooney's agent is Paul Stretford, the millionaire founder and chief executive of the Proactive Sports Group. Stretford is understood to have been aware of the anti-Sun sentiments on Merseyside but advised Rooney to sign the deal anyway, without Everton's knowledge. What Stretford hadn't bargained for was last Wednesday's Sun , which in response to local complaints issued a full-page apology for 'the most terrible mistake in its history', and claimed on its front page that Rooney had been 'hurt by a hate campaign' against him.

Stretford was incensed that it implied Rooney backed the apology, and rushed out a statement: 'Proactive, Wayne and his fiancée Colleen believe that the Sun 's repeated apologies for its terrible mistakes in its reporting of the Hillsborough disaster are entirely a matter for that newspaper. We all wish to make it clear that the sentiments expressed in the Sun were the views of that newspaper alone and we were not asked to, nor did we, endorse them.'

The Sun's mea culpa appeared to have backfired by turning a local story into a national one. The apparent self-flagellation was condemned as a cynical ploy because it also managed to accuse the Liverpool Post and Echo newspapers, owned by the rival Trinity Mirror group, of stirring anger towards Rooney for commercial gain. '******** ,' said Jon Brown, deputy editor of the Echo. 'For the Sun to accuse anyone of stoking things up is deeply ironic. There has been no pressure, overtly or subtly. It was a cheap shot and the staff here were furious. Fifteen years ago the Sun published something without thinking about it. They did the same this week. They turned into it more of an issue than we ever did. I'm sure there are people at the Sun now regretting prodding a stick into a hornets' nest.'

He added: 'The Sun's coverage of Hillsborough still has ramifications today in the vilification of Scousers, of an entire culture and community. It blackened the reputation of the city and it has still not recovered. If you go anywhere in the world Liverpool has a great reputation. If you go anywhere in England, it's different. The Sun has repeated the mass slander this week by saying Rooney is the victim of a hate campaign. There is no hate campaign. The Sun suggested there were mobs of vicious Liverpudlians gunning for Rooney and his girlfriend. The word "hate" is ridiculous. People here are proud of what he's achieved. You could ask a thousand people here if they hate Wayne Rooney and you wouldn't get a single yes.'

Pride, insularity, self-pity and living in the past have all become part of the lexicon applied to Scousers by outsiders. Liverpool is in the throes of a dramatic transformation and will be European City of Culture in 2008. But confrontations such as last week's crystallise its uneasy relationship with the rest of the country. Alan Bleasdale, the writer of TV dramas including Boys from the Black Stuff, said: 'There is radical change in this city. The only time we look back is when people pick our scabs and the wounds bleed. How often have you heard Scousers sentimentally wallowing in the past? Only in recent days in response to events elsewhere in the country.'

Phil Hammond, who lost his 14-year-old son Philip at Hillsborough, said: 'There are a few papers prejudiced against Liverpool. The Daily Mail printed a picture from the internet of Wayne Rooney doing a cartwheel and lots of stolen things falling out of his pockets, with the joke being: "You can take the lad out of Liverpool but you can't take Liverpool out of the lad." '

Rogan Taylor, who was chairman of the Football Supporters' Association at the time of Hillsborough, said: 'The people of Liverpool are not soft. Like Jews, Poles, blacks and others who keep getting whacked, they know who they are and who their enemies are. Liverpool is like the Poland of England.

'You should see it in the context of 150 years of prejudice from the ruling Protestant class towards the Irish Catholic settlers. The opinion columns of the Mail and Express today could easily be transported from the Times in 1845, asking questions like: "What kind of people are they? They like drinking and dancing and telling stories - what do these people think life is?" You could see the same subtext post-Hillsborough. "Why don't people take responsibility for themselves? Their culture is different from ours." The Sun splash pushed it to the limit at the end of a troubled decade.'

He added: 'Our memory is elephantine. Accusing people of robbing the dead is as close to unforgivable as you can get. If Murdoch and MacKenzie came to apologise, that would be interesting. But we haven't seen them, have we?'

A spokeswoman for Murdoch said: 'I am sure he completely agrees with the statements in the Sun.' Kelvin MacKenzie, now head of the TalkSport radio station, refused to comment last week. But in 1993 he told the Commons national heritage committee: 'I regret Hillsborough. It was a fundamental mistake. The mistake was I believed what an MP said. It was a Tory MP. If he had not said it and the chief superintendent had not agreed with it, we would not have gone with it.'

To the ongoing resentment of the Hillsborough families, neither MacKenzie nor the Sun has disclosed the identity of the source. The paper last week put assistant editor Graham Dudman on a round of radio phone-ins, in which he insisted the 1989 staff were no longer employed and pointed out that current editor Rebekah Wade was a 20-year-old student at the time. But Bleasdale said: 'The hierarchy of the Sun is different but the owner is the same, the philosophy is the same and the contempt is the same. To use a football analogy, it's just a transfer of players. You should try to forget but you should never forgive.'

Derek Hatton, the Liverpool council deputy leader-turned-radio presenter, said: 'I sat next to Rebekah Wade at a party for Max Clifford's birthday a few months ago and we were talking about Hillsborough. She didn't know that much about it, and why should she? Wayne Rooney at 18 ought to know more about it because there isn't a footballing kid of 18 in Liverpool who doesn't know exactly what happened at Hillsborough. I get a bit ****** off with people defending him. I'm the biggest fan of Wayne as a footballing genius but he has to bear some sort of responsibility.'

There are clearly some who agree. Those leaving Liverpool's Anfield ground on Friday morning were confronted by the giant words 'ROONEY SCUMBAG' daubed in white paint on the wall of a house opposite.

The war of words

Liverpool fans are pulled from the crush that killed 96 at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield in April 1989.

The Sun front page of 19 April 1989 claims fans dishonoured the city's dead. The source for the story has never been revealed.

Kiss and sell
Wayne Rooney sold his 'world exclusive' story to the Sun, telling of his love for fiancée Colleen McLoughlin.

The Sun devotes an entire page on Wednesday to saying sorry over Hillsborough... but upsets Liverpool all over again in the process.

First posted by Rushian on 11 July 2004.
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Postby mottman » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:50 pm

At about 6 o’clock yesterday evening I got a call from Robbie (Mottman) telling me that The S*n were about to publish an apology. The news left me a bit dumbstruck; I told Robbie I’d get back to him once I had a think about it. Once I had done this I spoke to a couple of other members of the HJC and discussed what we thought was going on, and what had caused such a dramatic change of heart. It really did not stack up.
Was it the success of the boycott? Was it that they had become fed up of their feeble attempts to increase circulation in the area? Was it the Rooney influence? Was it a reaction to continued opposition in the area? I suppose that I thought the Rooney influence had been the straw that had finally broken the camel’s back, seeing Evertonians turn on their modern day hero as a result of his association with this vile rag.

The people of Liverpool have long lived with the reality of negative press coverage but the attacks made on Liverpool fans on 19th April 1989 went far beyond any of their predecessors. Media attacks on the City were frequent, and those made on the Militant local authority of the mid-80s were too numerous to mention. At this time football in general and football fans in particular were “out of vogue” and were also seen as ‘fair game’ for the nation’s press attacks. It is interesting that Liverpool as a City, and football fans as a group, had also been continuously attacked by successive Tory governments during the 1980s.

Hillsborough was the worst day of my life. Sat in the North Stand I saw youngsters trying to administer the kiss of life to dying men, women and children, whilst police officers stood idly by. The South Yorkshire Police stood in front of the North Stand in case there were a pitch invasion, whilst youngsters died on advertising hoardings behind them. An ambulance that entered onto the pitch at the Kop end of the ground was denied access to the Liverpool fans by those self same officers.

The aftermath of the disaster is well documented - incompetent police, an inadequate antiquated football ground, a ‘national’ attitude which saw fit to treat successive generations as football fans as animals and a Football Association which saw fit to align itself with a cover up rather than represent the interests of fans. At the heart of this attempted cover up was the nation’s press.

The police immediately realised that their organisation was inadequate, and drew together the press to perpetuate their lies and conspiracy. On the afternoon of the disaster the BBC reported that a door had been broken down by Liverpool fans. Graham Kelly of the FA inferred that the police had not ordered the gates to be opened on Radio 2. The secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club reported that “at 2.50 there was a surge of Liverpool fans at The Leppings Lane end of the ground”. The seeds for the cover-up were sewn as Liverpool fans lay on the turf dying and dead.

As we turned up to pay our respects to the dead at Anfield over the following days, the nation’s free press assembled to gather evidence against us. The fact that people had died because they were seen as potential criminals rather than citizens by the country's police forces was never seriously examined. The myth of ticketless fans storming a gate continued to be perpetuated by the bloodhounds in league with the South Yorkshire onstabulary.

The S*n was not alone in its condemnation of Liverpool but its headlines do need to be considered:




These was the actions of an organisation trying to rewrite history, hand in hand with the British authorities. That one headline still perpetuates, in parts of this country, the myth that The Hillsborough Disaster occurred as a result of drunken football hooligans and not as a result of inadequate policing, a senile FA and a “penny pinching” football club. It was this perpetuation of the lies and propaganda of the authorities which made the lives of the families and survivors all the more unbearable.

It has been said that The S*n was not alone in its condemnation of Liverpool fans, but it must emphasised that they were by far the most vocally vehement in their condemnation. Furthermore, they stood alone in their defiance of the published findings of the Justice Taylor Report and their continued condemnation of Liverpool fans, and their refusal to publish a retraction of their original article. To point to half hearted admissions of impropriety (imposed by the Press Commission) as heartfelt apologies I find both offensive to the intelligence Liverpool fans, and completely disrespectful to the trauma faced by the bereaved families.

The article in question was not a decision taken in isolation by McKenzie, but no doubt he was duly rewarded for taking the blame for it being so. It was part of the establishment cover up of the facts of Hillsborough. The S*n did, however, go far, far further in their condemnation of Liverpool fans and their perpetuation of the establishment lies. Editorial decisions are not taken in isolation by any organisation, and the likely affects of such an article would have been weighed up with pros and cons. The fact is though that The S*n vastly underestimated the response of the people of Merseyside, and they further underestimated the longevity of the opposition to their vile rag.

The boycott of the rag was not organised by the HJC, the HFSG, LFC or any organisation. It was an instanteous reaction from the people of Liverpool. The grieving people of Liverpool awoke that morning to the most disgusting headlines imaginable. The boycott belongs to these people, reds and blues alike, and the boycott soon spread to reds and other football fans the length and breadth of the country.

The thing which hit the S*n hardest, and still continues to hit home, is the fact that up to 200,000 Merseyside people boycotted this once popular rag overnight. This is why they have made continuous attempts to try to recover part of its once vast circulation on Merseyside. The Souness episode, the 20p advertisements and their attempted dealings with LFC, as well as the recent episode with Peter Kilfoyle, a local MP, highlight how desperate they are to win back some of their circulation in the Merseyside area. They have failed over the past fifteen years in their attempts to influence Liverpool fans, so it becomes increasingly clear that the Rooney episode is clear “divide and conquer” tactics.

Devoting more column inches to Liverpool FC than any other national newspaper had failed so the new tactic was drawn up - a new national hero, dressed in blue but based on Merseyside, an opportunity too good to miss. I don’t wear the stories coming out of the Rooney camp; in any case his advisers should have known better, given that one Kenny Dalglish is an employee of his agents. This really should have been handled far better and with far more dignity.

In exactly the same manner as it was in the dark days following the disaster, the reaction of the Everton fans to Rooney’s decision to sell his story to this rag was exemplary. In fact I would even go as far as they have been quicker to condemn him than many reds were when Souness acted in a similar manner.

I have no doubt that as proprietor of the rag and part of the establishment, Rupert Murdoch was party to the decision to run this story. Make no mistake the boycott of The S*n hits Murdoch. Some people ask shouldn't we boycott all of Murdoch's media interests? The fact is that other arms of his media empire did not attack Liverpool fans in the same way as The S*n, so to extend the boycot to these organisations would be seen as unfair. To extend the boycott only serves to dilute it and weaken its effectiveness.

At about 9pm Sheila Coleman from the HJC called me to confirm that the features editor of the S*n had been in touch. He had started by declaring that the apology would be the front page lead of the paper, a decision obviously quickly reversed. He then went on to share the content of the apology; started as such and then running into a defence of themselves and Mr Rooney, before moving onto an attack on their perceived rivals and a thinly veiled attack on the people of the City of Liverpool. After the call I felt a bit down as I shared the information with others. I don’t really know why, I had no reason to expect anything else from these lying *******s.

So yesterday evening I found many questions racing through my head. Would this be a breakthrough that has considerable influence towards the road for justice? I should have known better. How could a major conspirator in the fight against justice expose the establishment conspiracy? They could not, they have continued to treat the people of the City of Liverpool with contempt.

The opening few lines of the article appears to constitute an apology, but even in there is the thinly conceiled lie that “We gladly say sorry again today: fully, openly, honestly and without reservation.” Expounding the myth that they had apologised for their actions.

Then comes their attack on you and me “Sadly, for some people in the city of Liverpool, forgetting — never mind forgiving — is impossible.” I can’t forgive them and I won’t forget them. Why should I?

For many years the various editorial and reporting regimes have been very quick to distance themselves from the actions of their predecessors fifteen years ago. Perhaps the one good thing to come out of this incident is that they have illustrated to all that this is as much of a myth and a lie as the rest of their actions. They have confirmed their true colours and yet again taken the opportunity to portray the people and football fans of Merseyside as mindless hooligans, hell bent on trouble.

The S*n interviewed bereaved parents as well as members of both the HJC and HFSG yet chose not to use any of the comments. They have confirmed that the mindset of their predecessors remains alive and well in their newsroom.

To add insult to the numerous injuries that have been compounded over fifteen years these ignorant *******s then finish their propaganda exercise with an amazing line: “It’s time to move on”. The press have created a national hero, the minority who simply cannot move on in their own small minded bigotry have vilified that hero.

How ironic that this rag that revels in nationalist bigotry tells us that fifteen years is longer than either world war, as though they never make any reference to these matters. The same rag that recently chose to illustrate Marc Vivien Foe’s dead body on its front pages. I simply cannot believe that they have the nerve to criticise us for being unable to forget their actions when they choose to compound them in such a manner. It truly is beyond comprehension or belief.

Anybody who considers buying this rag has no respect for the treatment they gave to Liverpool fans and the families of the bereaved. To portray the actions of this organisation as that of an individual, is naïve at best, conspiratorial at worst. Those who feel that we should forgive and forget should read Anne Williams' book, and how her fight for her dead son’s rights have been obstructed at every turn by the authorities. Those who wish to know how the families of the bereaved feel about this rag should attend a HJC meeting on a Monday evening in Oakfield Road, and speak to some of the families - you will be left in no doubt of their opinions.

In conclusion, you should think of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, their families and many survivors whose quest for Justice has been denied by the authorities and how The S*n as an organisation set out to deliberately mislead the British public into the belief that we are drunken yobs who ****** on and robbed our own, beat up and spat on the Yorkshire police.

The only language that The S*n understands is hard cash and the only way we can show that we will not and will never tolerate their treatment of us is to refuse to buy it! We are hurting them and we must continue to hurt them.


© john_mac 2004

(Please feel free to post anywhere that you feel appropriate, including other clubs' websites)

Written by John_mac 7 July 2004.
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Postby mottman » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:51 pm

Statement from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign on the Sun apology
The Hillsborough Justice Campaign does not recognise the comments in today's edition of The Sun (7th July 2004) as a genuine or sincere apology for the lies it told in respect of the Hillsborough Disaster.

Any apology should be front page and stand in its own right - on a par with the original damning headline fifteen years ago. However, what we read is front page sensationalism regarding Wayne Rooney being threatened, backed up by a leader inside the paper which attempts to apologise followed by an attack on Liverpudlians.

Any attempt to convince us of the sincerity of their remorse is immediately negated by the context in which the apology occurs.

It is the view of the HJC that the article and commentary are an attack, once again, on the people of Liverpool. It is our belief that The Sun has seriously miscalculated the intelligence of Liverpool people who, we believe, will see through this cynical attempt to increase sales in the Merseyside region.

Hillsborough Justice Campaign
Justice for the 96

For more information on the HJC and the Hillsborough Disaster visit:
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Postby mottman » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:52 pm

Superbly clinical condemnation of The S*n on Shanklygates
Open Letter to The Sun

By Milo Date: 12/7/2004

It took a lot of skill to paint yourselves, the people of Liverpool and Wayne Rooney and entourage in such a bad light, but you managed to do just that with your apology in your issue June 7th 2004.

There was so much wrong with your apology that you have somehow managed to alienate yourselves further from the people at whom the apology was targeted. Given that your stock in Liverpool was already rock bottom, that is quite an achievement.

What started out as a seemingly sincere and genuine apology ended up as a pathetic, excuse laden, snivelling piece of editorial that used a young boy as a shield and cited an uninvolved party as chief instigator in what you obviously feel is an unwarranted boycott of your paper.

"We cannot believe these protests properly represent the opinions of the majority of men and women in Liverpool", you state. I hate to disappoint you.

"Sadly for some people in the city of Liverpool, forgetting - never mind forgiving - is impossible", you exhorted. Correct on all counts. For if we forget our - sorry, your - mistakes, then what is to stop them being made again?

"We can understand the grief of those who lost loved ones at Hillsborough", you magnanimously concede, adding "but the words of other fans leave us in despair". You have no right to despair. The implication would seem to be that only those people who lost family or friends have any right to feel disgusted. That is simply untrue.

Your words at the time tarnished the memories of the dead. They tarnished the reputations of the survivors. And they tarnished the people of city. Many thousands went to Hillsborough from Liverpool. Many more thousands didn't. And yet their name, as much as anyone else's, were equally sullied by your incorrect report of "The Truth" in 1989. I am one of those people, and you will not stop me voicing my utter contempt for the way you portrayed my city and, by default, myself through lazy journalism.

Not content with refusing me my opinion, you then turn the apology into a sales pitch by informing us that "nearly all Liverpool born celebrities regularly talk to Britain's favourite daily newspaper". Just how crass and insensitive can you be? The people you are addressing are not interested in your celebrity scoops and your sales figures, they are interested in an apology. One which is rapidly becoming another kick in the teeth.

Don't let that stop you, though. By all means, put it down to a vendetta in the local media. Because let's face it, the people of Liverpool are stupid enough to forget the way your paper callously went to print with a factually incorrect story that made us out to be gravediggers.

The Daily Mirror does not need to remind us of the story. We already know. And The Mirror's "crude effort …to make commercial gain" would be no more crude than your increasingly horrible attempt at apologising. If indeed The Mirror was stirring the issue for this purpose. Which it wasn't.

I can understand you hoping "that the people of modern Liverpool, a city of spirit and sophistication, are not taken in". That might have another effect on your already pitiful sales figures in the city. Unfortunately for you, the people of Liverpool are not taken in by anybody about Hillsborough. We know what happened, and we know who said what.

And it will take more than signing Wayne Rooney up to sell his story to change our opinions. Do you think we are stupid? Obviously. Paul Stretford isn't though, is he? Wayne Rooney's agent moved swiftly to distance himself and his client from your apology and issued a statement claiming that it was made without his knowledge or approval.

To the cynical eye, it might appear that you've used Wayne Rooney to make commercial gain in a city that in lost circulation alone has cost you £55m. But of course, crude efforts to make commercial gain is the arena in which Trinity Mirror operates, isn't it? Or so you would have us believe. As I said, we are not stupid.

"The Sun of 2004 no more deserves to be hated in Merseyside than Wayne Rooney does". I can forgive Rooney, although he has been naïve in the extreme and his actions do him no favours. The Sun, however has had plenty of opportunity to redress the balance and has simply not done so.

I don't care how many of your staff were around in 1989. The public don't buy your staff, they buy The Sun. If I were to make a mistake in my work, I would be severely reprimanded if I answered a complaint with "well it's not my fault, it's a different department". If you work for The Sun, or indeed any company, then you carry its baggage.

And now that you know the severity of feeling and deep seated resentment that the people of Liverpool feel towards your paper, you simply cannot hold your hands up and say "it was the other guy's fault" and be absolved of blame. The Sun made the mistake. The Sun should apologise. And when I say "apologise" I mean "say sorry", on the front page, in letters as big as those that hollered the lies of "The Truth" to all and sundry in April 1989.

Burying it on page 8 and running a front page headline purporting to hate mobs hounding Wayne Rooney curries sympathy from those less informed, however. What a horrid bunch we scousers must be.

And then, just as it seems you can go no lower, you deliver the lowest of blows. "It is time to move on", you claim.

How dare you?

The people of Liverpool will decide when it is time to move on. No-one will tell them when it is time to move on. Do not presume to tell people when to stop feeling angry and above all, do not tell them when they should stop grieving. You are the last people to be afforded that right.

And so, I throw you a challenge. Print this letter, unedited and in its entirety, and answer my points as I have yours. Apologise unreservedly to the people of Liverpool - some of whom will be reading this on one of the many websites you could have lifted your quotes from when citing the "Hate Mob" that are purportedly haranguing Wayne Rooney - on the front page of your paper. Do not use it as a sales exercise. Do not use it as opportunity to lay blame. Simply apologise, cut your losses and walk away, and then we can all "move on", as you so tritely put it.

"Fifteen years is a long time", you rightly point out. I know. It didn't have to be that long, though. That was down to you. And we're still waiting.
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Postby Igor Zidane » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:22 pm



Last edited by Igor Zidane on Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby RedSi35 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:36 pm

Never ever ever ever should they be forgiven for what they did.

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