The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision is scheduled to announce its decision today on whether any prosecutions will be brought relating to the events at Hillsborough football ground that cost the lives of ninety-six Liverpool fans.
After almost three decades of struggle for truth and justice by the families of those who died – were unlawfully killed – and the clear indications of lies and misdirections by the authorities and media, there will be outrage if nobody is held to account for their part in the tragedy and subsequent cover-up.
But if there are prosecutions, an immediate responsibility falls on all of us, the British public, not to deprive the families of justice at the final hurdle.
As barrister Mark George QC points out, once charges are brought any comment about anyone charged could cause trials to be abandoned on the grounds that proceedings have been prejudiced beyond hope of a fair trial by adverse publicity:
#Hillsborough charging decisions to be announced 2moro am. Further comment about anyone charged may prejudice trials and get you in trouble
— Mark George (@Mark_George_QC) June 27, 2017
This is absolutely vital, as the temptation to comment is understandably powerful – but directing comment against specific, charged individuals could undo the families’ hard work and perseverance over more than a generation, not to mention causing possible legal problems for the person making the comment.
So if the CPS announces prosecutions today, praise and congratulate the families. Mourn the victims. Lambast the authorities for forcing them to fight for so long for justice.
But do not comment about the people charged – for yours and the families’ sake, not theirs.
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