Following the publication yesterday of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report on the Hillsborough Disaster of 15 April 1989, it is worth looking at some of the key figures who conspired to put together a false narrative, in which blame was shifted from incompetent policing onto – and here’s the lie – drunken, ticketless, late-arriving, violent Liverpool fans.
One of those who worked hardest and longest to defame the dead and the survivors of the Leppings Lane terrace was Constable Paul Middup, the secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation. The HIP report clearly show that he was one of the instrumental people behind The Sun‘s notorious 19 April front page mendacity, ‘THE TRUTH’ (see paragraph 144 on p25):
Documents disclosed to the Panel show that the allegations were filed by White’s News Agency, a Sheffield-based company. They were based on meetings over three days between agency staff and several police officers, together with interviews with Irvine Patnick MP and the South Yorkshire Police Federation Secretary, Paul Middup.
Furthermore, Middup and other SYPF members met on the morning of 19 April – the day the paper came out, with its lurid claims that fans robbed corpses, pissed on cops assisting the injured and other such fabrications – to discuss how to continue “putting our side of the story over to the press and media”. Middup claimed that the South Yorkshire Chief Constable Peter Wright had given him and the Fed a “free hand” and “support” in pushing this narrative. Wright himself later joined this ‘Special Joint Branch Board Meeting’, emphasising how he as Chief Constable would not talk to the media about fan behaviour, but that he endorsed what Middup was saying. The meeting’s minutes have Wright saying “if anybody should be blamed, it should be the drunken ticketless individuals” (see pp353-6).
What is Paul Middup doing these days? Well, Paul Middup – or more completely Paul Middup BEM MBIM – left the police and became chief executive of the South Yorkshire Police credit union serving additionally as a director for the Sheffield Credit Union Development Agency from July 2000 until its dissolution in 2006. He would appear to have spent the past six years enjoying his retirement with his wife in a former mining town between Rotherham and Sheffield.
Possibly he would not like to be remembered for his role in perpetuating lies about the Hillsborough slaughterhouse – lies he pushed from the very beginning.
Here he is talking on Yorkshire Television on Sunday 16 April 1989. That’s right, whilst the 96th victim Tony Bland was still being kept alive, Paul Middup was ranting on TV blaming fans. [ETA: ITV has now dug up this interview and are currently hosting it on their website.]
[Presenter in YTV studio: Well meanwhile, an official of South Yorkshire Police Federation says his members should be proud of their actions on Saturday.]
[Reporter Chris Kiddey: 800 police were on duty in and around Hillsborough; when disaster struck they were among the first to tend the injured. Most are members of the policeman's union, the Police Federation. Their spokesman feels they've been unfairly singled out for criticism…]
I am sick of seeing on television and reading in the press these instant experts. Doctors and a few lawyers, who all seem to know more about our job than we do, telling us what we should’ve done, that if there had been police officers just inside those gates that day funnelling people into the outer areas, then this wouldn’t have happened.
And I’m saying to you that if police officers had’ve been in there, when this mob surged through, the police officers would’ve been trampled to death underneath it. You just can’t handle them. And the vast majority of that lot had been drinking, the ones that were arriving late, and they will not be told what to do, they won’t do anything you try to do, and what can you do?
[Chris Kiddey: So, are you saying the fans are to blame, then?]
The police certainly aren’t to blame, because if the fans do what the police are asking them to do there wouldn’t be any problem, because people would be orderly. And if people were orderly they wouldn’t have these problems. You can’t crush all those people if people were orderly. It’s just not possible, unless you know a way that I don’t.
[Chris Kiddey: It'll be up to the public and external police enquiry to establish exactly what went wrong. The Federation's view is simple:]
If they can’t have these matches without all this upset, both to the people who are attending it and those who’ve got the job of sorting it all out, then it shouldn’t take place. Let them watch it on television or something like that.
My people should not be asked to go into situations like that where it’s always a no-win situation for us. They shouldn’t have [inaudible], that’s not necessary.
Truth is not justice. The guilty have never been held to account.