OPINION: a quest for the truth

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This newspaper, more than any other, in 1989, led the field in trying to uncover who, if anyone, had to be brought to book over the Hillsborough Disaster.

In The Star, of Monday April 17, 1989, we confronted the issue of which specific police officers had done what and why on that terrible day.

Our investigations made us deeply unpopular with the Chief Constable of the time, Peter Wright.

During our inquiries, some of his officers set about making life difficult for us to operate in Sheffield. But we were not to be deterred and over the coming weeks, months and years, continued to seek some of the answers that, in fairness, are still being pursued to this day.

Newspapers made some catastrophic mistakes at that time as fast-moving events were shrouded in a fog of claim and counterclaim. Huge mistakes were made by reporters and editors.

But The Star was not afraid to challenge Wright and his match-day commanders. And yesterday we continued that spirit of wanting to uncover the truth by handing over photographs from our archives to ‘Operation Resolve,’ the criminal investigation into the cause of the disaster that claimed 96 lives at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

Our Opinion column on that Monday in 1989 had this to say: “After the shock, and amid the suffering, must now come searching questions. Everyone must know how an event that should have been a happy occasion turned into the worst disaster in British soccer history. The aim must not be to find scapegoats but to discover exactly what went wrong so that it never happens again.”

Sitting here, copying the words that were typed out in this same building nearly a quarter of a century ago, is an emotional task, for me. I was one of the newsmen at the scene – and, perhaps, the one Wright disliked the most. But it is no longer about him, or the press. It’s about giving the families of those 96 closure – a certainty that no stone has, at last, been left unturned. We wish the inquiry well.