As lead researcher and primary author of the Hillsborough Panel’s Independent Report and advisor to the Hillsborough Families’ legal teams during the recent inquests into the deaths of their loves ones, Professor Phil Scraton is probably the authoritative voice on the events of the Hillsborough disaster. So the fact that he thinks UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has serious questions to answer over the discrepancies in his Hillsborough claims and his behaviour carries a huge amount of weight.
In two articles published by the Liverpool Echo, Professor Scraton has outlined his main concerns over Mr Nuttall’s actions and assertions about his presence at and links to the disaster in which 96 people were unlawfully killed. Links to the full articles are at the end of this post, but the key questions and observations Nuttall faces are:
Why should we believe you?
In view of his serial false claims – to have lost ‘close friends’ at Hillsborough, to have a PhD, to have played professional football, to be a board member of the North West Training Council charity – his current investigation by the EU for alleged fraud and the ongoing investigation by UK police for putting a false address on his by-election papers, Mr Nuttall’s credibility cannot be a given. Why should we believe you concerning your claimed presence at Hillsborough, Paul?
‘I’m a survivor’?
Nuttall has claimed to be a ‘survivor’ of the Leppings Lane End crush but subsequently admitted he was in the ‘upper tier’ – an area where there was no crush to survive. Nor did Mr Nuttall ever publicly provide any details of his alleged Hillsborough experiences – though he now claims to have provided testimony to police yesterday. Paul, how did you and your family members travel to Hillsborough; what time did you arrive at the ground; were you really in the packed crowd at the turnstiles; did you enter through Gate C; were you in the pens or in the West Stand; how close were you to the central pens and how did you get back to Bootle afterward?
Your own witnesses didn’t testify?
Paul Nuttall has relied on supposed support of his story by his father, his uncle and a UKIP employee who he claims were with him. The ‘testimony’ of an employee is intrinsically suspect and the identity of that ‘witness’ has not been made public. However, according to Prof Scraton, Nuttall’s father and uncle never gave testimony to the police or the inquiry either. What evidence is there that they were at the ground on the day of the tragedy – and why didn’t they come forward to give evidence when multiple appeals went out for all witnesses to do so?
Why did you ‘walk on by’?
The Hillsborough Project, of which Prof Scraton was the director, was based for a number of years at the heart of the Edge Hill campus at which Paul Nuttall studied. To call in and chat, offer help, talk about his experiences would have meant a detour of just a few feet as Nuttall walked by during his studies.
Why have you failed to condemn Banks?
The Professor’s empathy with the victims, survivors and their families is clear – and it clearly makes him outraged at the comments by UKIP donor Arron Banks, although he is too civilised to rant about it. But the question is clear: Paul Nuttall, why have you condoned Arron Banks’ vile comments about survivors and families by your silence?
Yet he never dropped in – not even once. Paul, why did you ‘walk on by’, when it would have cost you nothing but a few minutes to do so?
These are serious questions and deserve a serious – and absolutely frank – response.
And then there are these questions, not Prof Scraton’s as he wouldn’t have known about it at the time he wrote his articles, but from the SKWAWKBOX to Mr Nuttall:
Did you discuss these details with the police yesterday or was your statement kept vague and hard to verify?
Are you prepared to provide a copy of the ‘evidence’ you claim to have given to the police yesterday, so the public can assess it?
If the answer to the second question is ‘no’ – why not?
Given his track record, Paul Nuttall has no right to be believed by default, nor to expect us to assume that his claim that he gave a statement yesterday to Operation Resolve means it was a meaningful or even truthful one rather than a desperate ‘last roll of the dice’ to try to retrieve a situation that has rapidly deteriorated into sick farce.
If Mr Nuttall wants to ‘put the matter to bed’ in any way favourable to him, the answers to all these questions need to be forthcoming immediately – and credibly.
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