Retired judge: Families should 'move on'
A retired judge who produced a report on soccer ground safety in the 1980s has provoked anger by suggesting that the families of the UK's infamous Hillsborough disaster victims should "move on."
Sir Oliver Popplewell chaired a public inquiry into the fire in May 1985 at Bradford City's Valley Parade stadium, which killed 56 people. In a letter to The (London) Times, he contrasts the "quiet dignity and great courage" of those involved with the tragedy at Bradford with the behavior of the families of the Hillsborough victims, who continue to press the British government for full disclosure.
Those families won a pledge from Theresa May, the Home Secretary, at the end of an emotional Commons debate on Tuesday, that she would do everything in her power to publish Cabinet minutes and official documents relating to the tragedy in 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death during the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough Stadium.
In his letter, Popplewell writes, "The citizens of Bradford behaved with quiet dignity and great courage. They did not harbor conspiracy theories. They did not seek endless further inquiries. They buried their dead, comforted the bereaved and succored the injured. They organized a sensible compensation scheme and moved on. Is there, perhaps, a lesson there for the Hillsborough campaigners?"
The sentiment was met with fury on Merseyside. Steve Rotheram, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, said, "How insensitive does somebody have to be to write that load of drivel? It is unbelievable. To mention other tragedies simply because they are football-related, as if there is some common denominator just because they happened in football stadiums, beggars belief.
"Was there a conspiracy after the Bradford fire? Did the government try to blame Bradford City fans for setting fire to the stadium on purpose?"
He added, "It shows how people right at the top of the Establishment still harbor prejudice and ignorance."