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Hillsborough disaster

The Hillsborough Disaster occurred on April 15, 1989 on a football field in England, resulting in the loss of 96 lives.

Liverpool F.C were involved in their 17th FA Cup Semi-Final, to be played against Nottingham Forest F.C at Hillsborough, the home of Sheffield Wednesday F.C.

The game started just like any other, but with only 6 minutes played, the referee called a halt to the game. An influx of supporters in the Leppings Lane end of the ground (the Liverpool supporters' end) was causing a crush. This crush ultimately took the lives of 96 people.

A permanent tribute to those who tragically lost their lives can be found alongside the Shankly Gates at Anfield. A further tribute was set up in 1999 at Hillsborough.

On the Tuesday following the disaster, Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, used the front page headline, THE TRUTH, in huge letters. Under that were three smaller headlines: 'Some fans picked pockets of victims'; 'Some fans urinated on the brave cops'; 'Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life'.

The story accompanying this work of fiction claimed that 'drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims' and 'police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon'. A quote, 'attributed' to an unnamed policeman, claimed that a dead girl had been abused and that Liverpool fans 'were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead'.

In their history of The Sun, Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie wrote:

'As MacKenzie's layout was seen by more and more people, a collective shudder ran through the office [but] MacKenzie's dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in except Murdoch. [Everyone] seemed paralysed, "looking like rabbits in the headlights", as one hack described them. The error staring them in the face was too glaring. It obviously wasn't a silly mistake; nor was it a simple oversight. Nobody really had any comment on it - they just took one look and went away shaking their heads in wonder at the enormity of it. It was a "classic smear".'

Lord Justice Taylor's official enquiry into the disaster demolished The Sun's fabricated story and was unequivocal as to the disaster's cause:

'The real cause of the Hillsborough disaster [was] overcrowding, the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.'

Following the Sun's report, that newspaper was boycotted by most newsagents in Liverpool, with many refusing to stock the tabloid and large numbers of readers cancelling orders and even refusing to buy from shops which did stock the newspaper. More than a decade after the Hillsborough disaster, there are still many independent newsagents in Liverpool which do not stock The Sun.

See also: List of Hillsborough disaster casualties