Margaret Thatcher and Hillsborough: Her Press Secretary Bernard Ingham’s letter to a ‘disgusted’ Liverpool fan
ANORAK has argued against a minute’s silence at football grounds for Margaret Thatcher. She was no football fan. Her time as Prime Minister coincided with English football’s slide into darkness. The nadir was the Millwall fans rioting at Luton Town. The horrors were at Bradford City (56 dead), Heysel (39) and Hillsborough. Of that last tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans – adults and children – lost their lives at the FA Cup semi-final, voices poured misinformation into Thatcher’s ear. She was a willing audience to their lies - “One officer, born and bred in Liverpool, said that he was deeply ashamed to say that it was drunken Liverpool fans who had caused this disaster, just as they had caused the deaths at Heysel.”
Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, has not forgotten. She puts it well:
“It’s a terrible thing to speak ill of the dead, I know, because it happened to my son and all the Hillsborough victims for 23 years. But if they do hold a minute’s silence for Margaret Thatcher, I think they are making a big mistake.”
“Somebody fed those lies, I think she was part of it and she knew about it. That’s why I feel the way I do.”
The police lied. The media colluded in the lies. The Government would not listen to any other point of view. The talk was of fencing the fans in like cattle; ID cards; and football fans as criminals. English football was set up to die.
There is no evidence to prove the claims that Thatcher had anything to do with the shameful cover-up which made the innocent agents of their own deaths. Hillsborough was 1989. Thatcher left Downing Street for the last time in 1990. But her view was of football fans as animals. Government defended the police who sought to blame the 96 deaths on hooliganism rather than their own stupidity and incompetence. When the State is testing dead pre-teen children for alcohol in their blood, as they did at Hillsborough, something is wrong. The police built a case for the prosecution of the dead. The State offered no means to mount a robust defence.
Below is the letter Thatcher’s Press Secretary Bernard Ingham sent to a correspondent in 1996:
Lead photo: The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the bedside of William Mylchreest of Liverpool when she visited the injured survivors of the FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough. Date: 16/04/1989.