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29th Dec 2016

Hillsborough campaigner refuses OBE in protest at handling of “those affected by the tragedy”

Professor Phil Scraton is highly critical of those who refused to help the families

Rob Burnett

A prominent Hillsborough campaigner has turned down an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in protest at the government’s handling of the affair.

Professor Phil Scraton of Queen’s University, Belfast led the research team for the Hillsborough Independent Panel into the disaster that saw 96 football fans killed on April 15, 1989.

In April this year a jury concluded the victims were unlawfully killed – the culmination of 27 years’ campaigning from the families.

Prof Scraton wrote a book on the subject entitled Hillsborough: The Truth which is highly regarded.

He was nominated for an OBE to recognise that work but today he said he will not be accepting it in protest “at those who remained unresponsive” when asked to help the survivors and families affected by the tragedy.

In a statement he said: “I researched Hillsborough from 1989, publishing reports, articles and the first edition of Hillsborough: The Truth in 1990.

“Until 2009, and despite compelling evidence, successive governments declined to pursue a thorough, independent review of the context, consequences and aftermath of the disaster.

“This changed as a direct result of the families’ and survivors’ brave, persistent campaign.

“It led to the Hillsborough Independent Panel, its ground-breaking findings, new inquests and their crucially significant verdicts.

“I headed the Panel’s research team and was a consultant to the families’ lawyers throughout the new inquests.

“I could not receive an honour on the recommendation of those who remained unresponsive to the determined efforts of bereaved families and survivors to secure truth and justice.”

He said he could understand that his refusal “might come as a disappointment to some Hillsborough families, survivors and whoever nominated me,” but he added: “I could not accept an honour tied in name to the ‘British Empire’.

“In my scholarship and teaching I remain a strong critic of the historical, cultural and political contexts of imperialism and their international legacy.”