The revelations over the 23-year old events at Hillsborough have been shocking – deeply shocking. But I wonder how many of us felt a little personal guilt for moments when we thought ‘It’s a long time ago’ or ‘Let it go’?
This week the obstinacy and determination, and passion (there was lots of passion), from the campaigners were fully vindicated and they were proved to be not only right but to have caused the unearthing of an even bigger public scandal than anyone had thought. We all owe them some thanks for the light that has now been shone on those events.
The Hillsborough campaigners were motivated by sadness and anger over the deaths of their loved ones and the distorted story of their deaths that emerged from those who ought to have been protecting them. Personal tragedy fuels strong emotions.
Natural England should think hard about why they are being so secretive and obstructive to the public, who pay their wages, about a variety of events. Why cannot we see Andrew Wood’s witness statement referring to Walshaw Moor and the burning of blanket bog? Why cannot we see the locations in northern England at which tagged hen harriers ceased transmitting their locations?
When public bodies forget their responsibilities to the public and look instead to their own narrow interests and to the wishes of their political masters then you get a Hillsborough.
The Hillsborough campaigners thought they knew what had happened all along – and they were proved right. Many of us believe that those hen harrier locations would point the finger at a variety of driven grouse moors as being the locations where hen harriers inexplicably disappeared – how long will we need to wait to be proved right or wrong? And many of us believe that Andrew Wood’s witness statement would set out the case against the burning of blanket bog – which is now partially permitted on Walshaw Moor. How long will we need to wait to be proved right or wrong?
These are not matters of anything like the public interest or importance of Hillsborough – not remotely. But they are matters of similar type. When will those in power be open with the public? And what are their motives for secrecy? The lesson from Hillsborough is that the truth will out, often, eventually.