Newspaper review: Hillsborough 'justice' hailed, but not on Sun's front page

96 victims. 27 years. A two-year inquest. One word repeated on six front pages - Justice.

"Justice for the 96" - the campaign slogan that became a terrace chant - appears on the front pages of the Daily Mirror, Daily Star, i and New Day as the papers report the inquest verdict that 96 Liverpool football fans who died after a crush at Sheffield's Hillsborough stadium in 1989 were unlawfully killed.

Image copyright Reuters

The Guardian has the headline "After 27 years, justice" above a picture of the families celebrating the verdict outside the purpose-built coroner's court in Warrington that housed the UK's longest-running inquests.

Across seven pages of coverage, the paper tells how the blame for the deaths was "finally pinned on the police" while the inquest jury ruled that the behaviour of fans at the FA Cup semi-final had not contributed in any way to the disaster.

Fittingly, the paper gives journalist David Conn five pages to fully retell the story of the tragedy and how it was interpreted by the inquests. Conn was the journalist whose 2009 article questioning the original police statements is cited by many Hillsborough campaigners as a turning point in their fight to get the original inquests overturned.

At the Daily Mirror, Brian Reade - the other writer whose journalism is inextricably linked with the Hillsborough campaign - is given a front-page platform for a comment piece.

Reade was a journalist for the Liverpool Daily Post at the time of the tragedy and wrote an article two days later lamenting the fact that the families of the dead had been made to feel like their loved ones "didn't count" because they were football fans at a time when football fans were generally reviled by those in authority.

Image copyright EPA/Hillsborough Inquests

Nearly three decades on, Reade writes: "Families of Hillsborough's victims have had 27 years of sleepless nights. Now it's time for those guilty of criminal negligence and a cover-up to have theirs."

He tells how he was in court to hear the verdict and see how the families reacted: "The joy on those tear-stained faces, laced with anger that it had taken so long for the truth to come out, was one of the most poignant, heart-breaking scenes I've ever witnessed."

The Daily Star's front page carries the logo of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and the paper's sports team labels the day as "the greatest victory in Liverpool's history".

The New Day's front page contrasts a colour picture of the jubilant families with a black-and-white photograph of two shell-shocked fans on the Hillsborough terraces. Inside, the paper uses the words of the club's famous anthem and says the families "never walked alone".

The i points out that many investigations are still ongoing - into whether police officers from the time should face criminal prosecutions, into the response of the emergency services, into amendments made to police statements, into suggestions that journalists were given false information and into claims that the families had their phones tapped in the years that followed.


Meanwhile in Merseyside

The Liverpool Echo has 37 pages of coverage in today's paper. Its front page shows the words "Truth" and "Justice" bathed in red and white light on the outside of the city's St George's Hall.

A front-page editorial says that the city has "at last been vindicated" and that the "villains" have proved to be no match for the heroes among the Families (always spelt with a capital "F" by the Echo writers).

"What the authorities failed to recognise is that they were not dealing with ordinary people and that Liverpool is not an ordinary city," the paper says.


Verdicts on the Hillsborough verdict

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  • "Ninety-six people never came home from Hillsborough. There are 58 now entering middle age who lost a parent. The official verdict is one they have known all along. Whoever was to blame, it was not their mothers, fathers or daughters." - Times
  • "It seemed inconceivable that police would cover up the truth behind such an appalling event. Yet, to their great shame, they did." - Daily Telegraph
  • "In Liverpool, memories live a long time. Other mock us for it, saying we should 'move on' from Hillsborough. Today, that refusal to let go by the families of the 96 killed - unlawfully killed - has been utterly vindicated." - Jane Merrick, Independent
  • "The cover-up was easy because too much of the country was willing to allow one group of people, football fans from the failing northern city of Liverpool, to be represented as somehow different from the rest of us." - Guardian
  • "Now the CPS must decide whether the public interest can be served by bringing charges against long-retired, elderly police officers. It's an immensely difficult judgement - but what's certain is the families will not rest until they feel they have received justice in full." - Daily Mail
  • "When a jury decides 96 citizens of our country were unlawfully killed, those held responsible for the deaths must be put in the dock." - Daily Mirror

So what about the Sun?

The Sun isn't the only newspaper that chooses not to feature the Hillsborough verdicts on its front page, but its decision to carry the news on pages eight and nine immediately prompted debate on social media.

The story that is on its front page - revealing that David Cameron is using WhatsApp to communicate his EU campaign briefings to fellow Remain supporters - is not attracting nearly as much interest.

The paper is the subject of a long-running boycott by many readers on Merseyside over its Hillsborough coverage in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, in which it ran a front page story accusing fans of pickpocketing dying victims and urinating on policemen.

Today's Metro reproduces that infamous front page headlined "The Truth" and then uses the exact same layout to detail "The Truth" as it emerged from the inquest.

The Sun's two pages of coverage could fairly be described as accurate and respectful with pictures of all 96 victims and it also runs an editorial "unreservedly" apologising to the families of the Hillsborough victims, just as the paper did 12 years ago and again on its front page four years ago.

The editorial adds: "The supporters were not to blame. But the police smeared them with a pack of lies which in 1989 the Sun and other media swallowed whole."

The paper adds that it hopes the families go on to get more than their "first measure of justice".

An online apology on the paper's website is much longer and is said to be "heartfelt, profound, sincere and unambiguous" and adds that the 1989 report is "without doubt the blackest day in this newspaper's history".


Eye-catching headlines

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"Sorry but your dog hates being cuddled" - Animal psychologists claim dogs can feel stressed when being hugged by their owners because it stops them being able to run away - Daily Telegraph

"Turn off the radio: silence is safest way to drive" - Academics found that 14 of the 18 drivers taking part in a simulation, and asked to absorb the details of a complex travel report, failed to spot a gorilla or elephant at the side of the road - i

"That'll teach you: £120 parking ticket slapped on £10m Ferrari." - Photographer is on hand to capture the scene when a traffic warden "pounced" when he spotted one of the world's rarest supercars illegally parked in west London - Daily Mail

"Nearly May and snow stops play" - An unseasonal snow shower forced Surrey and Somerset players to halt the action and take cover at the Oval in south London; that's just not cricket! - Sun


Half-time analysis in doctors' strike

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So day one is over in the first all-out junior doctors' strike in NHS history and day two is coming up, but what are the papers' verdicts on the (in)action so far?

The Financial Times says the strike "showed few signs of crumbling" with eight out of 10 junior doctors taking part. Or as the Sun puts it, equally accurately, one in five defied the strike by turning up for work.

The Times reports that no hospitals were forced to take emergency measures, things ran surprisingly smoothly and "patients on ghost wards" are finding "it's an excellent time to be ill".

After Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that his current position is likely to be his "last big job in politics", the Daily Mirror's Jason Beattie is quick to start drafting a political obituary. He writes that it is not a surprise that Mr Hunt does not expect another job as "any half-competent HR manager would make sure his CV was at the bottom of the pile".


The price is right?

£20,000 Nike's latest range of customised trainers are made from nine different animal skins - elephant, ostrich, python, crocodile, alligator, stingray, lizard, boa and calf - and just 10 pairs have been produced - Daily Mail

£1,250 A horticulturist hopes to grow the world's biggest pumpkin after spending that amount on a single seed - i

£456 The annual cost to parents of having a member of the "Peter Pan generation" - people in their 20s and 30s still living at home - under their roof - Daily Telegraph

£299 A new supersonic hairdryer invented by James Dyson promises to be eight times more powerful than some rivals, strong enough to blow a hole in your budget - Daily Mail

£10 Cost of a ticket to see The Life of Brian - condemned as blasphemous on its release - inside a church in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Its vicar explains: "Brian is not Jesus. That's made clear right at the beginning [of the film]." - Daily Telegraph