Phil Scraton, a Professor at Edge Hill University between 1990 and 2003, carried out research which made a key contribution to the exposure and official recognition of injustice regarding the Hillsborough disaster.
The Hillsborough Project was jointly funded by Liverpool City Council and Edge Hill, and was carried out at the University between 1990 and 2003. The project exposed anomalies in police officers’ experience at the Hillsborough disaster when compared with their evidence put before official enquiries, it also explored the extent to which official documentation was altered or suppressed. The project’s research culminated in a book being published, “Hillsborough: The Truth”, which concluded that the Hillsborough Disaster represented a serious miscarriage of justice.
Informed by Professor Scraton’s research while at Edge Hill, the Hillsborough Independent Panel was set up in 2009 with Phil appointed as a member. The work of the Panel led to a Prime Ministerial apology, the new inquests into the deaths at Hillsborough, a new police investigation, an IPCC investigation and the full disclosure of all documents relevant to the disaster held by public agencies.
The new inquest concluded on April 26 2016. The jury was satisfied that those died in the disaster were unlawfully killed and answered no to the question “Was there any behaviour on the part of football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstile.” A full list of the jury’s verdicts can be found here.
Following the inquest determinations, and the conclusion of the criminal investigations at the end of 2016/start of 2017, the Crown Prosecution Service will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body based upon all the available evidence.
In recognition of the importance of his research, Andy Burnham MP honoured Phil Scraton in the Hillsborough parliamentary debate on 22 October 2012,
“Tonight, I pay particular tribute to Professor Phil Scraton. Of this I am sure: the full truth about Hillsborough would never have been known were it not for his meticulous efforts over many years, turning over stones that others had walked past. Professor Scraton has done a huge service not just to the Hillsborough families but to this country, and I hope the House will join me in acknowledging it tonight.”
“The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) recognised the impact of The Hillsborough Project, with aspects of the project assessed as having ‘very considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance’, achieving a three-star ranking.
The Hillsborough Project contributed to Edge Hill University’s Law and Criminology research being ranked in the top 30 in the UK for its research impact in the national Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.