Hillsborough Disaster

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Lord Kangana
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Lord Kangana » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:59 am

Oh, admittedly, there may be no convictions, but I think some have misread the political runes when assessing what may happen in the near future. Playing to the zeitgeist (horrible word) if you will.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Prufrock » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:01 am

Lord Kangana wrote:I'm not saying that at all. And besides which, you seem to be casting aside the adversarial nature of our judicial system.

For one, an individual, somewhere along the line, had to take the decision that it was not cost-effective to reapply for a valid safety certificate. That could be, and probably is, a whole group of individuals.

And secondly, somebody, under somebody elses orders, opened the gate allowing the crush.

Sequentially, there are individuals at the heart of theses decisions. As much as there are individuals at the heart of the campaign to steer the subsequent inquiry off course.
I know you weren't saying that specifically, but I was exaggerating to make the point there are very specific requirements in play here.

First of all, we need to be clear if we mean an inquest or an inquiry. To my knowledge, all that is on the table at the moment is another inquest. Inquests are, I think, unique in our legal system in that they are not adversarial. They are led by a coroner, who answers those four questions I mentioned, and those alone. 'Interested parties' are represented by counsel, but it isn't an x v y situation.

Who died, where they died, when they died and how they died. 1-3 are usually self-explanatory. 4, pre-human rights act (so when the original inquest occurred) was also very narrow. How did they die? No other evidence was admissible in terms of the general circumstance as to how they died. Now the question is wider, but it still only refers to how they died, not who is to blame. That is the inquest.

As for any criminal guilt. For an individual you would be looking at gross negligence manslaughter. Again, specific criteria need to be met, all by one individual. Was there a duty of care owed (you would struggle to define that duty, the more general you make it the harder it is to prove a breach. There are very specific rules defining who owes whom a duty)? Was that duty breached (depending on how successful you were defining it, *possibly*)? Was there a risk that conduct could cause death (it seems very unlikely there was any breach by any one individual you could say was reasonably foreseeable to cause death)? Did that breach cause death (knackered here for me, nobody who could be said to owe a duty breached it in a way which directly caused death)? Did the defendant in question fall so far below the standards expected they could be labelled grossly negligent and deserve criminal punishment (in the highly unlikely event you got this far, then possibly, yes)?

For corporate manslaughter, I think the same rules would apply, but you'd have to pin all those questions onto an organisation, given I don't think the CMCHA applies.

If it did you'd be knackered for similar reasons regarding duty, breach and causation.

As for any inquiry, it would depend on its remit. I think there are possibilities of misconduct by the police and politicians in regards to leaking of information, false or otherwise. These are based on rumour and hearsay. I wouldn't be surprised if they were true. A distortion of truly held beliefs is a plausible explanation, so is a cover-up. Both based on rumour and conjection as far as I can see. Were any rumours to prove founded I still think you'd be looking at internal misconduct charges rather than criminal proceedings.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Lord Kangana » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:04 am

Which goes back to my original point. I can't see SYP emerging unscathed, collectively, from this new turn of events. I still, however, believe that some individuals may have more put upon them. What are the rukles on trying in absentia these days? Can the dead still be found guilty of a crime?
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Prufrock » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:09 am

Lord Kangana wrote:Oh, admittedly, there may be no convictions, but I think some have misread the political runes when assessing what may happen in the near future. Playing to the zeitgeist (horrible word) if you will.
There is undoubtedly a political element to it. That does not change the fact very specific questions have to be answered legally. No amount of politics can get around that.

I've just done a few minutes wiki-ing and it turns out there will be another inquest and an inquiry. The inquiry will look at whether criminal charges can be brought. As mentioned, I cannot see how.

The inquest, well, that I *could* see becoming political. I wouldn't be surprised to see any coroner take unlawful killing off the table. Criminal responsibility must be proven here beyond reasonable doubt (my earlier post was wrong, I've edited it, so ner). Talking an open verdict away would make the whole thing pointless however, and so I can see how that *could* happen.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Prufrock » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:16 am

Lord Kangana wrote:Which goes back to my original point. I can't see SYP emerging unscathed, collectively, from this new turn of events. I still, however, believe that some individuals may have more put upon them. What are the rukles on trying in absentia these days? Can the dead still be found guilty of a crime?
You can't try a dead person. An inquest could effectively say they unlawfully killed someone, but again with the criteria.

Who are SYP going to be scathed by? I can see results which are politically damaging, and in terms of the reputation of those involved, massively so, but no criminal charges.

Any inquiry could come to the conclusion that there were serious organisational flaws in the planning and policing of football matches back then. This isn't news. Beyond that, I don't see much in tangible terms.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:30 am

Lord Kangana wrote: Well theres a clear duty of care by the club, because they were required to have a safety certificate. Which they didn't have. Cutting through the legalese, theres grounds for a corporate manslaughter charge.
That is not cutting through the legalese!

I agree that it is clear that the Club owed a duty of care and one that they breached.

The truth is they have already admitted as much and paid out on that basis. Following the public inquiry, civil action was launched to determine liability. Evidence from the Taylor report was submitted with any party allowed to contest facts within it. SYP did not contest liability in respect of those injured and bereaved at Hillsborough.

SYP did, however, initiate High Court action against SCC, SWFC and SWFC’s advisers, alleging there was a breach of a common duty of care and negligence on the part of the safety advisors. A private deal was struck where they agreed to split compensation payments to victims, resulting in the avoidance of any official ruling of responsibility.

This is actually a context that I think very few understand well. A lot of what the SYP did in terms of its positioning was a preparation for how liability was to be carved up between the parties. I won't go and find the relevant documents now, but I think the much-vilified Bettison was unusually sophisticated in his appreciation of the liability picture and one of the things he challenged in SYP's putting together of evidence was the idea that SYP had undertaken to 'monitor' the pens. You see him challenging this word and wanting to be clear that the police were not 'monitoring' in the sense of counting people. Actually not an unreasonable position, as Taylor himself acknowledged that the Club had control of the 'totaliser' counting system and the CCTV for the purpose of counting.

Anyway, getting back to the thrust of your point. I would be very surprised if one result of all this is for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club to be charged with corporate manslaughter. Admitting civil liability is one thing, but negligence so gross as to amount to a crime is a much, much higher bar. Despite the failings that are now obvious with hindsight, before the shake up that the event prompted, people were not thinking in terms of the possibility of people dying at football matches back then. Against this background, the Club did not behave in a completely callous and unreasonable way.

One under-appreciated fact is that the certificate was actually in the process of being updated. The council's role here is highly relevant. SCC were responsible for issuing, revising and updating the certificate for the stadium. Taylor described the attention they paid to this important licensing function as “woefully inadequate”. In the early 80s the council received notice from SWFC of planned modifications to the Hillsborough stadium and gave permission for such changes. Taylor believed at this point the local authority should have amended the safety certificate accordingly, but they didn't.

Taylor said, “The certificate took no account of the 1981 and 1985 alterations to the ground. A number of breaches of the ‘Green Guide’ standards were permitted'', while failure to revise the certificate allowed for breaches, such as the spacing of the crush barriers, width of emergency exit gates and gradient of tunnel, to persist. Basically the council should not have let SWFC keep its licence.

The council's chief licensing officer, Mr Bownes, who had the responsibility for referring planned amendments to the stadium back to the General Purposes Panel (GPP) for a final decision, did not inform the GPP of the decision to remove what was later determined to be a key barrier. Mr Bownes agreed to its removal on site. At the inquiry, Mr Bownes admitted that he was “ill equipped” to agree to such a decision.

Taylor said the agreement to its removal “ought not to have been made.” Mr Bownes did, however, inform the GPP that “the conditions [in the Safety Certificate] give some cause for concern as they appear to be inadequate or inappropriate in some areas.”
His report to the GPP said new safety conditions should be drafted. The GPP agreed and the task of revising the Safety Certificate began in June 1986. However, the tragic truth is that final draft was not circulated for review until March 30th 1989, 16 days before the disaster.

And another thing - the council had dictated in the original safety certificate (which we now know to have been invalidated because of ground changes) that the Club should arrange to be inspected annually by a chartered engineer. SWFC complied with this condition and employed consultant engineers Eastwood and Partners to inspect their stadium to ensure the club complied with the safety provisions detailed in the safety certificate. So the Club was actually paying people to look at this stuff - not the popular picture of cost shirking at every opportunity!

To cut that long story short - the Club shares the blame with Sheffield City Council and it advisers and was in the process of updating the safety certificate anyway. All three of those parties have admitted liability and done a deal between them to contribute to civil compensation claims.
Lord Kangana wrote:I would suggest that the case will be less clear cut for the police, though there are myriad rules governing what they should and shouldn't be doing to prevent crime in public. Though you'll be able to throw in perverting the course of justice, accessory after the fact etc. Its more likely that the Police will simply suffer at the hands of some kind of judicial review or public enquiry. Nevertheless, public servants are held to a higher standard of scrutiny than their private counterparts. I'd be utterly amazed if there weren't repercussions in the future.
It's very clear that the police owed some duty of care - indeed they have never contested that and have paid out, as described above. The question has always been "what was the extent of that duty?".

The truth is that the police have "suffered at the hands of a public enquiry" already - Taylor could scarcely have been more damning and that is the context for the entire 'fightback'. Repercussions? The way policing and safety at football matches was thought of underwent and swift and total revolution. There have rarely been events that have had more dramatic implications.
Last edited by mummywhycantieatcrayons on Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:01 am

Prufrock wrote:Is 'Corporate Manslaughter' even relevant given the act is from 2007?
The 2007 Act and new offence do not apply retrospectively, no.

There has always been the crime of corporate manslaughter though.

The relevant wiki article is a good introduction to the history of the offence and the build up to that 2007 Act.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_ ... _and_Wales" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:03 am

Lord Kangana wrote:And what of the untruths told to the original inquiry?
What 'untruths' do you feel were told to the original inquiry?
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:05 am

Lord Kangana wrote: So, do I think this will go further? Yes. I think, under the current climate it would be a little disingenuous for mummy to suggest notthing will ever happen. Whether any convictions, individual or collective, are brought is a wholly different matter to their being either a new inquest or even trial.
Lord Kangana wrote:Oh, admittedly, there may be no convictions, but I think some have misread the political runes when assessing what may happen in the near future. Playing to the zeitgeist (horrible word) if you will.
I'm not being 'disingenuous' at all you bastard! I'm just giving my honest personal views on what I think I will happen and what I think should happen.

If you read back my comments in this thread, and I don't recommend it, I said that I felt that the Government would 'find a way' to reopen the inquests.

As such, I was not at all surprised by by yesterday's announcement and, listening to Grieve's words, it was clear what he was doing was indeed 'finding a way' to do this unusual thing.

However, the simple fact is that for a verdict of unlawful killing to be returned, a person or organisation has to be thought guilty of manslaughter. My prediction is that the inquest will not find that.

I also predict that the DPP will not bring manslaughter charges against any person or organisation. It's the law that he can only do this if he feels conviction is likely. It is not.

However, the more I think about it, the more I think that we might see a repeat of what happened in the De Menezes case in 2006, and the SYP, like the Met in that case, will face criminal charges under sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

I've always been so distracted on the manslaughter question, which I am very clear on, that I didn't consider this possibility. LK is a right to a certain extent to say that the law is not apolitical and I think there is the same political appetite to convict the SYP of something as there was with the Met in the De Menezes case. I think the end point might well be that the police are convicted of this regulatory, health and safety offence, so that the whole thing can be put to bed with the police convicted of a crime. This, crucially, is not an 'unlawful killing' for the purposes of an inquest finding.

So my list of predictions for the predictions thread.

1. The new inquest will not find a new verdict.
2. The DPP will not bring manslaughter charges against any person or organisation.
3. The DPP will charge the SYP with an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
4. SYP will be convicted of an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:29 pm

Pru, are you in London next week?

We can go and put the relevant 'hypothetical' questions to Keir Starmer himself at LSE.

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/even ... 30vOT.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Prufrock » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:37 pm

I am. My mini-pupillage starts on Monday. I was going to Facebook you later this evening seeing if you wanted to go for a pint at some point, but that looks like much more fun! I may be double-booked though as Verbs is doing a quiz night on Wednesday, but I don't know at what time. If there isn't a clash then I'm for going to that, I really enjoyed the last one.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Verbal » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:38 pm

Sorry! I meant quiz on Tuesday!
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Prufrock » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:43 pm

Sweet. Assuming this mini-pupillage doesn't involve loads of homework and late finishes then I can do both. Busy week ahead.
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:29 pm

At any rate, "I just want to go and ask the DPP something" sounds good...
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by CAPSLOCK » Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:57 pm

mummywhycantieatcrayons wrote:Pru, are you in London next week?

We can go and put the relevant 'hypothetical' questions to Keir Starmer himself at LSE.

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/even ... 30vOT.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Hardcore

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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:03 pm

Yep. Especially now my sister lives there now.

Why do you ask?
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by CAPSLOCK » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:15 pm

You can talk to me

I'll let you :)

It's turning into an expensive season

Brighton and Peterboro booked up....Wolves, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield and Blackpool comin' up

I'd better talk to you about divorce ;)
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by Bruce Rioja » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:28 pm

CAPSLOCK wrote: Brighton and Peterboro booked up....
You staying over in Brighton, Spunkbubble?
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by mummywhycantieatcrayons » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:36 pm

CAPSLOCK wrote:You can talk to me

I'll let you :)
That's very good of you.

(What are you on about?!)
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Re: Hillsborough Disaster

Post by CAPSLOCK » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:40 pm

Bruce Rioja wrote:
CAPSLOCK wrote: Brighton and Peterboro booked up....
You staying over in Brighton, Spunkbubble?
Funds won't stretch to it, unfortunately

Choo choo there and same with PB
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