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Hillsborough Campaigners Honoured At ‘Oscars Of Westminster’

MARGARET Aspinall, founding member and Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), and Professor Phil Scraton (Queen’s University Belfast) were named Campaigners of the Year last night (29 November 2016) at the Political Studies Association (PSA)’s Annual Awards Ceremony in London.

Now in its 15th year, the PSA Awards, held at Church House in Westminster, pays tribute to those that have made an outstanding contribution to the study and conduct of politics in the past year. The pair stood out for the way in which they typified the resilience of the bereaved families, campaigning with extraordinary courage, determination and dignity to challenge the official view of events amid pressure from the establishment, politicians, the South Yorkshire Police and elements of the media who blamed supporters for the tragedy.

Aspinall, who lost her 18-year old son James in the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989, has worked tirelessly since the original inquests in 1990, to seek truth and establish facts, leading to the exoneration of Liverpool fans 27 years later at the second Hillsborough Inquests, which concluded in April 2016.

The PSA judging panel noted the “endeavour, skill and perseverance shown by Margaret Aspinall as Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group in continuing to seek justice for the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster.”

Margaret is now backing the ‘Hillsborough Law’ or Public Authorities Accountability Bill, which aims to make those in public office co-operate positively with investigations and make it illegal to give misleading information, whilst also containing penalties and fines for those who are wilfully non-compliant.

On receiving the award she said: “I am honoured and humbled to be presented with this award alongside Professor Phil Scraton. I’m sure all the families would like me to take this opportunity to publically thank Phil for standing alongside us and the survivors throughout our long, hard fight for truth and accountability for our 96 loved ones. 27 years ago they innocently went to watch a football match and tragically never came home.  At last we have the truth –  they were all unlawfully killed – and we are now waiting to find out if accountability is to follow.”

Professor Phil Scraton, who has researched and campaigned on Hillsborough since the disaster, is author of Hillsborough: The Truth, led the research for the Hillsborough Independent Panel and was primary author of its report and special advisor to the Hillsborough families’ legal teams throughout the recent inquests.

On receiving the award he said: “I accept this award with humility and gratitude; recognising the remarkable 27 year campaigns for justice led by the Hillsborough families and survivors. To receive the award alongside Margaret Aspinall is particularly significant and emotional reflecting my profound respect for family members of the 96 men, women and children who died and also the survivors. While the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s Report and the inquest verdict placed responsibility at the doors of those responsible and exonerated the fans it is regrettable that it took nearly three decades and the passing of many family members to achieve justice.”

The jury praised Scraton’s “significant research as a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the way in which it enlightened public understanding of the disaster and provided critical evidence, culminating in the April 2016 verdict of unlawful killing.”

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