Friday, March 28, 2014

Hillsborough stadium tragedy inquests: The Independent's story is an excellent set-up piece for the inquests which are to begin Monday. (At its heart will be painstaking re-examination of the original accidental death inquest verdicts which have been viewed as "old wounds" which are reopening - and "one of the most painful injustices of the tragedy.")

PUBLISHER'S VIEW:  The lengthy cluster of inquests will last many weeks, if not months.  It will unfold amidst allegations of police and medical cover-ups of great interest to this Blog. I will wade into it from time to time.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

STORY: "Hillsborough stadium tragedy inquest: Families await a fresh moment for truth," by reporter Jonathan Brown, published by The Independent on March 27, 2014.

SUB-HEADING: "The first of the new inquests into a 25-year-old tragedy begins next week, reopening old wounds but also reawakening hopes of closure and justice. Jonathan Brown explains how much is at stake."

GIST: "These are once again tense and difficult days for the families of the victims and the survivors of the Hillsborough disaster. It may be nearly a quarter of a century since the crush – Britain’s worst sporting disaster – claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, but as the latest milestone in their long fight for justice approaches, with the new inquests days away, the old wounds are reopening......... The simple search for the truth drives the families forward. “It will give us a final piece to our jigsaw and give us what we consider to be the correct verdict on the death certificate. Hillsborough certainly wasn’t an accident – it was a disaster waiting to happen,” said Mr Kelly. The original accidental death inquest verdicts are one of the most painful injustices of the tragedy and the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in 2012 made the quashing of the verdicts a necessity and new hearings inevitable.........As well as revealing evidence of altered police statements and a systematic smear operation to lay the fault for the disaster at the feet of fans wrongly accused of being drunk, it concluded that up to 41 of the victims might have survived if they had received adequate emergency care.........When Lord Justice Goldring convenes proceedings in Warrington on Monday, it will fall to a jury of 12 men and women to answer four questions. The first two – the identity of the victims and their place of death – are open to little doubt. The remaining issues – the time of death and how the deceased came to die – will occupy much of the eight months that the inquests are expected to last. At the original hearing, the Coroner for South Yorkshire, Dr Stefan Popper, ruled as inadmissible evidence from beyond 3.15pm – two minutes after the first St John Ambulance trundled on to the pitch on that FA Cup semi-final  Saturday afternoon. It was a decision which enraged and baffled relatives who asserted from eyewitness accounts from fans that their loved ones had still been alive up to 45 minutes after the cut off. The original inquest focused not on the effectiveness of the rescue and resuscitation efforts but on the circumstances of the crush, the panel found. Families were distraught at the coroner’s unprecedented decision to record and publish the blood-alcohol levels of all the victims. This was despite the discrediting of police claims that drunken late-arriving fans had caused the tragedy. Evidence of drinking, however, will once again be aired at the new hearing at the request of counsel for the police. There was also dismay that during the mini-inquests before the full hearing at Sheffield (resumed only after it had been decided that there would be no criminal charges arising from the tragedy) investigating officers from West Midlands Police were able to present summaries of statements as fact before the jury.
According to the panel, the 80-day inquests – the longest in English legal history – had been “controversial in their organisation, conduct and outcome”. At their conclusion in March 1991, the verdict was greeted by cries and shouts of anguish from the families.".........(The story identifies among key issues:  The response: How  competent was the medical and police reaction to the unfolding tragedy? The 96 victims: The last hours of each victim will be recreated. Post mortem: Pathologists will reveal what happened to the bodies and the causes of death.")

The entire story can be found at:
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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;