Excitement will continue past deadline day

It’s the last day of August. Some of us used to refer to it as the last day of summer but that was moved, it seems, to the middle of June. Nowadays it’s more commonly known as deadline day and for some it’s a day to get really excited. Why?

In some cases maybe there’s a genuine feeling that their club’s fortunes will be dramatically enhanced by the time the window closes late that night. Even when it’s closed there’s a faint hope that details will come through of a deal that was done just in time but not announced until afterwards. It’s the hope that brings the excitement.

Deadline Day - big screens and many phonesFor many fans the hope is for a miracle; in their heart of hearts they know their squad isn’t going to change but maybe, just maybe, a previously unknown clause will be taken advantage of and they’ll get that new defender their goalkeeper had been crying out for. They cling to that hope to block out the worry that their goalkeeper might actually just go and join that defender and the rest of his team-mates at their existing club.

This season, for Liverpool fans, it’s a fairly relaxed deadline day. So relaxed that yesterday there was even room for a hoax Neymar bid to do the rounds of the internet, one that might have even got as far as the mainstream media if they’d been as unguarded as they seem to be today. The day was still young when fake Stewart Downing and Guillem Balague Twitter accounts were taken as genuine and their fake transfer news got spread further than the bedrooms of the fakers. Continue reading Excitement will continue past deadline day

Hillsborough e-petition sails past 100k – now contact your MP

The response to the e-petition urging the government to release Hillsborough documents requested in a Freedom of Information request was both overwhelming and a huge boost to all those who have been fighting for the truth for 22 years.

The petition sailed past 100,000 signatures on Monday – the figure needed to make valid for consideration for a debate in Parliament – but the campaign continues. It now stands at over 125,000.

If you haven’t already signed the petition – or confirmed your signature by clicking the link you should have received in an email after signing – please do so now. The link to the petition is http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2199. If you’ve already signed it but have friends and family without internet access who you think would be willing to sign please offer to help them out.

Deputy PM Nick Clegg is also reported to have stepped in to speak to the Cabinet Office about releasing the documents, with numerous MPs putting pressure on the government too, but the next step is to write to your own MP urging them to press for the disclosure of these documents.

The Anfield Wrap website contains information on how to contact your MP and includes a template letter that you can use in order to do so: http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2011/08/hillsborough-documents-e-petition/

The pressure is intensifying and knowledge of the truth that we already have, and the questions we’ve never had answered, is beginning to spread to a wider audience. Please help keep the pressure on.

Thanks to all who have helped in any way.

What are they hiding? Time for some truth.

THE government is facing a backlash following its decision to appeal against an order to release documents from 22 years ago relating to the Hillsborough disaster. The documents reportedly include correspondence and reports sent to and from the Prime Minister of the time, Margarget Thatcher, in relation to the disaster that saw 96 people die.

The order to release the documents came from the Information Commissioner, who looked at whether or not the Cabinet Office had dealt appropriately with a request for information made by the BBC under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. The request was made in 2009, shortly after the 20th anniversary of the disaster.

The information asked for was, “Copies of all briefings and other information provided to Margaret Thatcher in April 1989 relating to the Hillsborough disaster,” and, “copies of minutes and any other records of meetings attended by Margaret Thatcher during April 1989 at which the Hillsborough disaster was discussed.”

The Cabinet office was supposed to answer within 20 days. They took nine months – and refused to supply the information requested.

The BBC, in response, requested an internal review. Internal reviews should “be carried out within 20 working days, but that this period may be extended to 40 working days in exceptional circumstances”. The Cabinet office didn’t take 20, or even 40 days. They took just short of seven months, and again refused to supply the information requested.

The Information Commissioner then received a complaint from the BBC and in January 2011 asked the Cabinet Office to reply (within 20 working days) with further details of their reasons for refusing the request and also with copies of the information in question.

30 working days later and the Information Commissioner had not had a reply from the Cabinet Office, so they issued an ‘Information Notice’, giving the Cabinet Office another 30 working days to supply the information requested in January. It took them 54 working days to do finally do this.

It had now taken just short of two years from the date of the original BBC request to the point where the Information Commissioner could look at the Cabinet Office’s reasons for refusing to supply the information.

The Information Commissioner ruled that the Cabinet Office “did not deal with the request in accordance with the Act.” The Commissioner wrote that the government office had “applied the exemptions provided by [various sections of the Act] incorrectly and in so doing breached the requirements of [various sections of the act].”

The Commissioner ruled that although it was correct to withhold one piece of information, due to it containing sensitive personal information of a member of the public (one of the survivors), that it should still be realised in a form that blanks out the name of the member of public.

The Cabinet Office was told to “disclose all information falling within the scope of the request, apart from… the cover note to the survivor’s letter [which] should be disclosed in redacted form.”

They Cabinet Office were given 35 calendar days to comply (by August 24th) and the report noted that the previous delays were “matters of concern”. The Commissioner pointed out that any appeal had to be made within 28 days – that day being August 17th, the day the appeal was announced. For once the Cabinet Office had met a deadline, but only just.

In announcing the appeal a spokesman from the Cabinet Office said: “The Government’s view is that it is in the public interest for the process that is underway through the Hillsborough Independent Panel be allowed to take its course. The terms of reference for that process includes the intention to disclose information to the Hillsborough families first.

“The Cabinet Office absolutely agrees with the principle of providing information to families about the Hillsborough stadium disaster, but we believe it is important that any release of information should be managed through the Panel’s processes and in line with their terms of reference. The Cabinet Office is fully committed to the disclosure process in line with the Terms of Reference and is working with the Panel to achieve that.

“The Panel have had access to all the information covered by this decision notice.”

This excuse comes despite the Information Commissioner stating quite clearly in its report that the existence of the panel is irrelevant in terms of this request, because: “It did not exist at the time of the request, or within 20 working days following the receipt of the request by the public authority.” It went on to say: “Any factor that did not apply at the time of the request is not relevant. This situation applies regardless of the lengthy delay by the public authority in responding to the request. In addition the Commissioner does not see how this argument is relevant to factors in inherent in the exemption claimed. The Commissioner also notes the panel is not set up on a statutory basis, on the same terms as a formal Inquiry.”

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) released a statement immediately after hearing the government’s decision to appeal:

HJC STATEMENT RE: GOVERNMENT APPEAL:

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign is disgusted but not surprised by the government’s decision to appeal the release of information to the BBC. The fact that it quotes the Hillsborough Independent panel’s work and ‘public interest’ as the reasons to appeal is both illogical and disingenuous. It states that information should be “managed through the panel’s processes”; in what way will the information be ‘managed’? Why is there a need to ‘manage‘ the truth? If the panel is committed to the true facts being revealed then why is there such concern regarding the BBC revealing those facts?

The panel does not have a moral right to ownership of the facts.

The issue seems to be that the BBC would make public the contents of the cabinet meeting minutes immediately, whereas the panel will not release any information before 2012. The government’s action in appealing the decision indicates the close working relationship between itself and the ‘independent’ panel. The decision appears to us as a policing exercise that is not in the best interests of those most affected by the Disaster.

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign will now have to seriously reconsider the relationship it has with the panel. Of paramount concern to the campaign is that the panel, via the government, should seek to police that truth in this way.

Sheila Coleman (on behalf of the HJC)

The government (often referred to as “this Tory government”, despite officially being a coalition government) were criticised heavily by supporters of the campaign for justice. This goes beyond football; those who support the calls for justice aren’t all Liverpool fans or even football supporters. 96 people died, countless more were victims in other ways; real people want real justice for those real victims.

Opposition MPs also joined the calls for the government to stop the cover-up and delaying tactics and release this information.

Andy Burnham MP said, via Twitter, “This is a worrying move. It raises real questions about the Government’s commitment to disclosure and the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

“Families must have the full truth. Nothing less will do. I will write to Prime Minister urging him to intervene and drop this appeal.

“The Government are saying the Panel will ‘have access’. That’s not the same as disclosure.

“The appeal damages trust in the process. The Government could pass [the documents] to families before [passing them onto the] BBC.”

Steve Rotheram MP, asked why he thought the government weren’t releasing the papers, suggested: “There has to be something that someone doesn’t want us to see!” He promised that he and other Merseyside MPs would be joining Andy Burnham in asking David Cameron, the current Prime Minister, to intervene.

A petition had already been set up on the government’s “e-petitions” website calling for the information to be released. It had been signed by around 600 people early yesterday evening, by the time Kenny Dalglish and others had spread the word and asked people to sign it the numbers swelled rapidly. Kenny tweeted: “Please sign this petition and RT [retweet]. Think it is very important that we support this.” The link to the petition is http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2199 and at lunchtime on Thursday it had been signed by close to 23,000 people.

As MPs try to get someone like David Cameron to do the right thing and intervene, the social networking tools that some want banned are helping to inform people around the country of exactly what they can do to help get the right thing done.

The petition can only be signed by UK citizens or those who normally live in the UK, but everybody can spread the word about it being there. Those who can sign it can do so in about 30 seconds – but it’s important that they check their emails to confirm to the e-petition system that they are a real person and not a “spambot”.

Names and addresses of those who sign it are not shown on the website.

Cameron spoke last week, after the unrest around the country, about how “no phoney human rights concerns… will get in the way of bringing… justice.” He also spoke about “swift justice”.

We’ve waited 22 years for justice for Hillsborough. We’ve waited over two years just for this one request for one file of information to be released, and we’re still waiting. We feel like we’re waiting for ever. And the reasons given for the delays all sound very phoney to us.

It’s time to stop the phoney excuses and admit the wrongs that were done. Those helping continue the cover-up are as bad as those who started the cover-ups in the first place.

What are they hiding?

Please sign the petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2199.

 

My Liverpool FC player of the season

It’s that time of year when the question constantly being asked is: “Who is your player of the season?” (Unless you are asking on behalf of one of the official awards organisers, in which case you asked this question about six months earlier). In this case the question being asked is who is the Liverpool FC player of the season?

As anyone with a remote interest in the English league could tell you the Reds’ season was split into two distinct and very different halves. The first half was played under dark clouds and endless thunderstorms, daylight was nowhere to be seen and words like ‘miserable’, ‘angry’ and ‘relegation’ were often to be heard. The second half was played in glorious sunshine with not a cloud in sight, with plenty of cold beer on ice and words like ‘joy’, ‘delight’ and ‘victory’ often to be heard. That’s less of an exaggeration than it might seem meaning there’s little point looking at performances from Roy Hodgson’s ‘era’ when choosing a player of the season.

Kenny Dalglish knew that the biggest problem at Anfield had nothing to do with transfer budgets or what type of marking to use. It wasn’t about which players shouldn’t have been sold or which players shouldn’t have replaced them. The issues Liverpool had were on a list longer than the Mersey but the biggest problem was what was missing at the club, and that was unity. On his return in January he set about restoring it; in no time at all the team were winning games and problems became opportunities, certainly where injuries saw certain players getting a chance they might not have expected to get.
Continue reading My Liverpool FC player of the season

Kenny is staying, let the party begin.

Kenny Dalglish is the new permanent manager of Liverpool Football Club. The caretaker manager since January, Kenny is now back in his old job and has a three year contract to go with it. To say Liverpool fans are happy about that is an understatement along the lines of describing Tom Hicks and George Gillett as not being very good for LFC.

The news was revealed on the club’s official website just before Kenny’s regular weekly pre-match press-conference with those members of the media he sees each week. One of the worst-kept secrets since the club cut out the damaging off-record briefings we’d all grown tired of was that Kenny’s deal was agreed and would be announced at some point this weekend. Normally if there’s big news to be announced the club hold a press conference in front of the ‘big boys’ of the media but Kenny didn’t want that. He wanted to reward the lads he sees week in and week out at the normal press briefings to get this story and to ask the first questions.

Even that says a lot about the man. Whereas some managers will ban reporters for asking the difficult questions, even if it’s from their club’s own TV station, Kenny is spoken about warmly by all the reporters who speak to him on a regular basis. The ‘big boys’ missed out this time and although not all of them were by any means hostile towards him the one or two who suggested he should stick to golf might be glad they weren’t asked to come up here anyway on this occasion. Continue reading Kenny is staying, let the party begin.

Ex-Reds must pull out of Sun-sponsored TV show

Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton are being urged to act quickly and openly and to sever their association with an Irish TV show sponsored by The Sun.

Friday was the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster that resulted in the deaths of 96 supporters and countless cases of deep psychological trauma for survivors.

Tuesday is the anniversary of The Sun printing front-page lies accusing those survivors of carrying out unspeakable acts on those who died. Under a headline of ‘The Truth’, those lies led to a boycott of The Sun that still holds strong 22 years later.

As the fight continues to get the truth in the quest for justice there is always a feeling that the paper assisted the establishment in hiding that truth. The paper’s editor at the time, Kelvin MacKenzie, later admitted the claims were lies and also said they were fed to the paper by “a Conservative MP” and backed up by the “Chief Superintendent”. To this day some people still believe those lies.

Any decent person taking time to read the truth about the disaster before reading the words under that headline of ‘The Truth’ would find it difficult not to avoid that paper. That’s why the boycott is observed so strongly – not just by Liverpool fans, not just on Merseyside, not just by people who follow football.

Ireland has a huge Reds fanbase and those fans feel as strongly about the boycott as anyone from L4.

The disappointment felt by those Irish Reds was huge when they heard RTÉ plugging a show sponsored by The Sun and featuring major roles for ex-Reds Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan. Ronnie was club captain on the day of the disaster. Ray was memorably approached on the pitch that day by a fan desperate to get word out about what was unfolding on those terraces.

It is unthinkable that either would knowingly allow themselves to be associated with that paper.
Continue reading Ex-Reds must pull out of Sun-sponsored TV show

Not the time to be miserable about the football

Liverpool head into the final straight of a season that has been full of twists and turns with a home match tonight against Manchester City.

The reverse fixture was the Reds’ first away game of the season and then-manager Roy Hodgson saw his side well beaten in a depressing 3-0 embarrassment. It was one of a number of results, before and after a change of ownership at the club, that would see genuine concerns raised about Liverpool facing relegation.

Relegation! That idea would have been unthinkable during the 2009 season, even the small pockets of supporters calling for that manager’s head back then were doing so because they thought he had thrown away any hope of winning the league after criticising Alex Ferguson. Their anger was that the club was heading for no silverware for the third season in a row, now it was looking like dropping out of the top flight.

The threat of relegation became a distraction from reasons why – according to claims from people at the club – the last manager had been replaced. He’d overseen a seventh-place finish, outside of the Champions League places, and this wasn’t good enough. Now some were saying safety from relegation would be an achievement for his replacement.

Supporters felt increasingly distanced from their own club.

In January the new owners finally decided enough was enough and paid the inherited problem of Hodgson off, installing Kenny Dalglish in his place as manager until the end of the season. Continue reading Not the time to be miserable about the football