As He Ain’t Heavy . . . fittingly makes the festive No. 1 in a momentous year, Peter Elson and Kate Forrester look back at the events of 2012
IT HAS been a hugely momentous year for the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims and their supporters, who have campaigned tirelessly for justice.
A chain of historic events began in April, with a decision by the Football Association to hold a minute’s silence ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Everton at Wembley – a move welcomed by victims’ relatives.
And on September 12 the entire country was left stunned when the Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, published its report into the events surrounding the tragedy on April 15, 1989.
The shocking revelations included a massive cover-up by police chiefs, who tried to shift blame on to the fans, and the heartbreaking truth that many of the victims were still alive after the 3.15pm coroner’s cut-off point and possibly could have been saved.
The report, which prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to issue an apology in the House of Commons to the families of those who died, paved the way for the original accidental death inquest verdicts on the 96 fans to be quashed and a new inquiry set up.
A month later, Norman Bettison, one of the most senior serving officers implicated in the alleged cover-up, stepped down from his role as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police.
His resignation came less than two weeks after the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced the launch of an independent investigation into Hillsborough – its biggest-ever probe, involving 2,000 officers.
On December 19, the High Court quashed the accidental death verdicts returned at the 96 original inquests – and the Government announced it would pay the legal fees of the Hillsborough families.
And a groundbreaking year was brought to a close with the news that The Justice Collective’s charity single, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, had made it to Christmas number one.