Wuthering Moors 27 – Secrecy and power

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.

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14 Replies to “Wuthering Moors 27 – Secrecy and power”

  1. That the truth about Hillsborough has been admitted is to me more shocking than the actual revelations, which most of us suspected anyway. How stupid do you have to be not to destroy the evidence of the cover up?
    The fact is that we are always told a version of the truth that suits those who are telling it (Iraq war?) and those whom we elect to represent us or employ as 'public servants' quickly seem to ignore what their primary role should be, i.e. representing US and serving US.
    There have been instances when the Press have brought to our attention wrongdoing (e.g. MPs' expenses) but given the cosy relationship between the Murdochs and the present Government, I don't think I would want to rely on them for investigative or campaigning journalism.
    Whereas in the past, people have looked to the democratic process to get things changed or to find out the truth, the outbreak of on-line petitions (including one about Hillsborough) seems to show that that process is no longer trusted.

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    1. PeterD - Thank you. I think that the role of the internet, including on-line petitions etc, is important. Now everyone, however foolish or wise, can have some sort of a voice in any public debate. Sometimes the consequences of that aren't so great but on the whole I see it as a very good thing.

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  2. Football is a religion and sadly the 1 million members of the RSPB are just members and the majority of them think some one else is doing the job. People have died fighting for their club but not one has died 'Fighting for birds'!

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    1. There have been several conservationists killed fighting for birds. Here's one of the earliest - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Bradley

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    2. John,
      The 96 innocent victims of the Hillsborough disaster died fighting for their lives not "fighting for their club". What an incredibly crass comment.

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  3. Hopefully it won’t take 23 years to get justice for hen harriers and blanket bog. Given the movement of public opinion on both of the above against the minority who damage them, I’m fairly sure we wont have to wait quite as long although I’m doubting we will hear any words of condemnation against it from the prime minister.

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  4. When Stephen Murphy ( Natural England, Hen Harrier Recovery Project ) eventually submits his Doctoral thesis summarizing the work then full details surrounding the lost harriers bearing transmitters should surely be included somewhere. If not, then it will reveal the extent to which Natural England are prepared to influence even an academic process aimed at adding "to the scientific body of knowledge" but, also, the extent to which they are prepared to try and protect the landowners concerned. This latter aspect, one imagines, would be a political decision taken at a high level and outside the organization. If the situation moves into such dangerous waters then they are in a very exposed situation indeed, as they are with the Walshaw Moor case. Something WILL happen at some point, if the case is kept alive, and they will then end up with much more serious "charges" to answer!! It's perhaps the personal insecurity aspect that is force driving the current situation and not necessarily within senior ranks of NE either.

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  5. Have you tried the FoI (Freedom of Information) route?
    Have you asked a supportive MP to table written questions?

    We did just that with Badger TB – 500+ written questions in several tranches – asked by Owen Paterson of Ben Bradshaw (the then DEFRA Farming Minister) who ended up telling most of the truth – except, of course, when [2 words deleted by Mark Avery] to Parliament.

    100 questions will indicate that you are somewhat serious!

    PS - Mark - a couple of my blog entries appear to have been moderated out -

    "Secrecy & Power" - You said it ! You've got it in one !

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    1. Trimbush - I think all your comments are posted (if not it may be that one or two ended up in Spam for some reason and I missed them - if so, sorry). But a couple of words of warning from me. First, your comment above (slightly edited by me) was potentially libellous of Ben Bradshaw and that's why I have edited it. You can't expect me to publish comments that might get (you and) me into trouble so please choose your words more carefully in future. Second, don't try to turn every topic on this blog into a discussion of badgers and TB please or you will risk not getting your comments published. Your on-topic comments are most welcome and occasional challenging mention of badgers and TB is perfectly acceptable too. Thanks.

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  6. We are meant to live in a democracy where we are asked to place our complete trust and faith in those organisations who underpin the whole of our society. The events of Wednesday sicken me to the pit of my stomach. To completely fail in their duty of care to those in dire need of it is one thing, but to then place the blame on those individuals, 96 of whom lost their lives, is an act of monumental cowardice. If that wasn't enough we then discover an orchestrated cover up of colossal proportions that required 23 years of tireless campaigning to expose. I can't think of a time when I have been more ashamed of being British.

    The epetition for full disclosure of information relating to Hillsborough amassed 156,205 signatures, and the 100,000 target was reached in a matter of days I seem to remember. Despite the fact that over 20 years had passed since the time of the disaster. The epetition for landowners vicarious liability in relation to raptor persecution unfortunately didn't have the same support, and that I suppose is understandable given the scale of the disaster and injustice. The general public simply don't have the interest or knowledge to support such a petition.

    I would agree that the same disgraceful actions from those in authority are at work here. Landowners, politicians, ministers, judges, sheriifs and the police all seem to have a relationship that appears to be a little 'too cosy'. The parallells with Hillsborough in this regard are all too plain to see.

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  7. Mal,exactly,it is a very sad fact that not enough people care about Hen Harriers even top brass at RSPB and 90% of membership.Perhaps we need to advertise that Spoon Billed Hen Harriers are almost extinct in England.Change of name should do it.

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  8. I'm a bit uncomfortable with this and the use of Hillsborough to make comparisons with other government actions. It's no different to suggesting that Hillsborough shows that all police are dishonest. Please don't use the horrors of Hillsborough to make points about conservation. They aren't comparable and just encourage crass comments like the one made by John Miles. You say at the end that they're not on the same scale, so why bother making the comparison?

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