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Phil Scraton - a truly remarkable and extraordinary Liverpudlian

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Red Ol:
Well said Timbo. Wonderful post about a wonderful man.

Thank you always Prof Scraton for spotlighting and articulating the truth when so many others sought (and still seek) to distort and bury it. A courageous and humble man.

Wow! What a remarkable tribute. Thank you so much, Timbo ...

I just do what I think - and know - to be the right thing. I remain in awe of the bereaved families and survivors, and those born into the struggle for justice and those who have been lost on the way. Their solidarity in pursuit of truth recognition and acknowledgement, in securing the Panel (which wasn't always plain-sailing!) and the extensive findings in the 2014-16 inquests which laid responsibility for unlawful killing at the doors of the authorities, most specifically the SYP, while exonerating the fans of any responsibility, remain the real victories of the campaigns. What happened last week in no way reduces those hard-won victories.

As last week's appalling comments by Jonathan Goldberg QC demonstrate, however, there is always more work to be done. Phil.

Great post Timbo and thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do Phil.

Superb Timbo.

I'd also like to thank publicly Dr. Scraton. When we on this side of the pond had a problem with a Hillsborough denier who had the microphone to spout his lies via a weekly radio and a once a week tv program, I reached out to Phil and he was there on the spot. Ultimately the boycott we started over here had it's impact and he went off the air. He pulled his radio show. And the tv channel dropped him.

No matter where or when Phil Scraton has been a bastion for the Truth.



--- Quote from: Timbo's Goals on May 30, 2021, 05:00:17 pm ---Where would all of us affected by Hillsborough have been without Phil Scraton?

It’s a thought that’s occurred to me at each and every key Hillsborough moment over these past three decades and did so once again as I listened intently to his compelling podcast on the Anfield Wrap [linked immediately below], dealing with the absurdity of the establishment’s latest weasel-worded desecration of true justice.

Would we ever have seen all the heinous reality twisting and unpalatable lies which so characterized our unbearable tragedy and its aftermath vanquished to the self-serving cesspit from where it was hatched without the priceless input of this indefatigable Liverpudlian and his determination to represent the truth and ensure it prevailed?

So many others, including most notably of course the families themselves, the HJC, Jimmy McGovern and Andy Burnham have either throughout the entire period or at key periods and moments during it shouldered the fight for justice. However, could the families, the survivors, those others of us who were there that terrible day as well as the wider Liverpool family and other decent folk who witnessed what happened and knew the truth ever have seen that moment when the truth of that day finally prevailed, had Phil Scraton and his uniquely steadfast forensic approach not been at the very centre of the effort?

Myself, for one, struggle to imagine it, which is why I believe the very least this uniquely extraordinary Liverpudlian deserves is a dedicated thread of his own on the main RAWK website.

I speak as someone who attempted as valiantly as I could in those early pre-internet days following April 15th to right the tirade of unspeakable establishment initiated/media driven wrongs. I did so with countless letters and phone calls to that same baying media that drove the onslaught. Ultimately, it proved to be a largely forlorn task. Indeed, the plethora of closed minds I encountered often seemed almost to take perverse pleasure in rejecting or ignoring any representations made, despite the legitimacy of what I was conveying.

As one lone sympathetic national reporter - Mike Langley of The Sunday People - who did happen to know the true reality put it to me at the time in that perfectly worded catchphrase that has been repeated many times since - “the lies were halfway around the world before the truth had got its boots on’.

And so, despite the findings of the Taylor Report, which for all its shortcomings did cite a failure of police control as a primary finding, it remained the pervading inclination – and in many cases the seemingly determined resolve – of so many beyond the bosom of our home city to vindicate the authorities and blame the fans. It meant the hurt and frustration lingered and the convenient scapegoat rhetoric which was fuelling it was to be reiterated many many times over the ensuing years, each time amplifying our collective anguish at the injustice which it seemed we were impotent to dispel.

Then, some five years after the tragedy in the text of his autobiography came Brian Clough’s despicable slur - “I will always remain convinced that those Liverpool fans who died were killed by Liverpool people”. For many back then, Clough’s words were to add a gravitas to their poisonous rhetoric, affording them even more impetus. And once more written efforts and phone calls to challenge that fresh found impetus of ignorance and venom, admirable as they were, were to prove largely futile in dispelling what so many seemed intent on believing. 

Imagine then all this time the feelings of those poor bereaved families exposed to such a persistent and impenetrable onslaught of lies and misrepresentation. Their innocent loved ones crushed to unimaginable deaths whilst much of the world outside laid the blame at the door of their fellow Liverpudlians.

I saw first hand the distress this sort of mantra inflicted on such folks when back in those early days I met with Phil Hammond and his wife Hilda who had lost their 14 year old son Phillip. Phil, who was then HFSG Vice Chairman, and Hilda had immersed themselves in unearthing the truth of Hillsborough and finding justice for their son but felt impotent in making that truth known to the wider world beyond. Desolate is I think the term that most aptly conveys how they felt back then. They despaired. Both of any semblance of justice ever being dispensed and of any sense of prevailing sensitivity and understanding of their plight in that wider world beyond.

They craved support but in those early pre-internet/pre-HJC days, such support was, by definition, thin on the ground. Thankfully, however, they had Phil Scraton. Back then, Phil Scraton by their side provided them with the human comfort blanket of learned and expert assurance they so desperately needed. How vital and irreplaceable he was to them.

To Phil and Hilda and other bereaved families he represented a virtual knight in shining armour; an erudite Criminology Professor at – and on – their side with his vast insight and knowledge of not only the Hillsborough disaster and all its causes and ramifications but also its place in the wider context of other UK disasters and their own corresponding establishment cover-ups. In those days when the families otherwise felt so alone and isolated, Phil Scraton and his team including Sheila Coleman and Ann Jemphrey were there for them. The Scraton team’s depiction of the denial of justice and the promotion of myth in the aftermath of the disaster in their initial No Last Rights publication provided a desperately needed crutch of perspective and sanity.

Crucially, ever since those early days, at every single stage of the Hillsborough story, Phil Scraton has been there for the families. And let us never forget for fans like us, too. To research, to scrutinize, to analyse, to challenge, to clarify, to advise and represent. His scrupulously researched and presented book, The Truth, provided precisely what it promised on its cover. His tireless ever presence throughout the entire Hillsborough justice process culminated of course in the pivotal role he so clearly played within the Hillsborough Independent Panel which unequivocally absolved the fans of any culpability for the disaster and established the culpability of the authorities, crucially their co-ordinated alteration of witness statements to deflect blame onto the fans.

Down the years so many have made tireless contributions to the pursuit of Hillsborough justice – and we honour them all most notably of course the families themselves – but let us make no mistake, Phil Scraton is the ever present individual who more than anybody else has ensured that the true story and legacy of the Hillsborough tragedy will forever be a matter of public record and not, the shameful obfuscation of reality that, forinstance, we witnessed in Manchester earlier this week with the scandalous establishment manoeuvring to prevent the clearly warranted prosecution of culpable individuals which served to inflict yet more anguish upon innocent and damaged souls.

Phil Scraton’s steadfast resolve after so many years of blocked paths to justice, set against hopelessly besmirched and corrupted odds when any prospect of the momentum that ultimately carried the fight to its rightful conclusion seemed but a romanticised pipe dream is a thing to leave us in awe. His indefatigable determination to right the wrong, complementing it with his expert insight provided the families with a unique expertise to match his innate empathy and became a cornerstone so crucial to their fight as well as the background lubrication to ensure that no matter how slowly for so much of the time they might have been turning, the wheels of justice being pushed never stopped inching forward.

RAWK salutes you Phil.

--- End quote ---

Thank you Al for starting this thread to honor Dr. Phil Scraton!   I am going to tell an adjacent personal story here.

Being a midwestern yank, who was introduced to Liverpool FC by my first soccer coach (Neil) from Birkenhead who came to America to play college footy in my hometown, my first exposure to the club was via emissary.  Neil (or Coach as I call him) is my first red inspiration, meeting him at age 9 at the University of Evansville Soccer Camp.  Later on, my school was lucky enough to snare him as a History teacher and coach and he decided to stay in the US, getting married - so I got spend a great deal of time with this Scouser who has been so influential in my life.  He is the kind of person who loves to learn, derives pleasure from being disciplined, and always found a way to motivate his players/students.  He would play the Beatles music non-stop, tell us " privileged yank kids" we were all soft and wouldn't last a day in Birkenhead in the 70s, and wouldn't call us by our given names but by his own labels of current or former Liverpool FC players.   I was lucky because he called me Dalglish - something he still does to this day :)     Why is this relevant?

I did not come to love the club by living in anywhere near Merseyside nor have I met surviving families from Hillsborough in person.   So any credibility for me in these kinds of discussions on the topic almost always involves listening, remembering, researching, reading and being sensitive to the history, the families, and the communities most affected.  I was not there and my proximity to the disaster and its ramifications for families is an exercise in empathy first, never fully comprehending the pain and anguish this has caused the community for such a long time. No one really needs a sentimental yank projecting onto people thoughts and ideas from afar, regardless of the solidarity and anger.   

Nevertheless, when I consider the work of Dr. Phil Scraton as well as the work of the families, I am in awe of their fortitude.  Over 30 years of trauma, an open public wound without the cool salve of justice. This fight has been a long, painful miscarriage of justice.  And yet, we have in our midst someone who has been a real hero.   Phil has been someone who has

1. Translated the legal ramification at every point,
2. Worked with surviving families to support and communicate the legal fight
3. Fiercely advocated for individuals, families and the community
4. Grieved and Proceeded to fight on

From this yanks perspective, this cannot have been easy.  Living smack dab in the middle of neoliberal hyper-capitalist hell culture near Washington DC, I am reminded every day that modern power has "a tripartite nature".   It looks baffoonish, a circus of chaos, but the interests served are three pronged in nature.   

There is the state, who purports and advertizes their democracy bona fides likes a Pepsi commercial, but are beholden to other big money/power interests.   There are corporations (especially in media) who are there to shape people's opinions, manufacture consent, and print the news that their billionaire benefactors ask them to.  And there also is a hidden system, one that we only get to see in small doses (they deal with secrets, military objectives, and surveillance).   They read our phones, emails, and listen in to our telephone calls and mine it, often called big data.  These three systems work together to protect one another, and to further the aims of global capitalism, and the health of the corporate state.  Police officers exist to protect the impotence of the political state, the greed of the corporate state, and the stealth of the surveillance state.  As Phil stated in the podcast, the truth about Hillsborough is that it implicates many powerful people.  How does this relate?

Phil has been fighting against systems that do not have remorse, will not be held to account, and will use every dirty trick in the book to avoid being prosecuted.  The fact that the families and their advocates have gotten this far is miraculous.  It is something to celebrate and honor.   It is time to let Phil know how much you appreciate his efforts. 

For me, the podcast located in the OP, really hit home when Phil talked about waking up from a sleep and shouting out in the middle of night --- "They knew".    And his recounting of the terms by which this recent ruling was made is a complete an utter travesty and a stain on the notion of justice. The amount of shit the families and their advocates have been through by all the systems of power (newspapers, police officials, corrupt politicians, judges etc), unwilling to acknowledge what we all know to be true is a lifetime journey.  It did not start today and will not end tomorrow.   However, from my position here in the States, it is important to honor those who took on/still take on these tripartite powers and lend them our voices, our emotions, and our energies of admiration for their efforts.   

THIS CANNOT BE, AND WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.   There is a different kind of fight ahead, imo.   And before we embark, It is important to honor those who influence us.  As my old coach Neil would have said, "let's get fucking stuck in" like Phil has, and let's honor his/the families efforts to scythe through the weeds and sort this out the Liverpool way.

Phil mate, I have never met you and have only followed your work for a few years now (after learning more about the tragedy and joining RAWK), but I want to thank you personally for all your work to help the families, and to chronicle how the adversaries of JFT96 have behaved.   It is invaluable work, and I imagine it came at a significant cost.

Thank you.



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