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Queen's academic Scraton refuses OBE over Hillsborough disaster

By Brett Campbell

Queen's University academic Phil Scraton has turned down an OBE.

The 67-year-old, who is originally from Liverpool, was instrumental in exposing the truth about what happened in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

He has been named in the Queen's New Year Honours List, but has refused it saying that he could not receive it "on the recommendation of those who remained unresponsive" to those who campaigned for the truth about what happened.

In a statement he outlined his reason for rejecting the title.

"I headed the panel's research team and was a consultant to the families' lawyers throughout the new inquests," he said.

"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."

Ninety-six people died as a consequence of gates being locked on disproportionately filled areas of Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground on April 15, 1989.

In April this year, an inquest jury concluded the fans were unlawfully killed. Prof Scraton's book, Hillsborough: The Truth, is widely accepted as the definitive account of the disaster.

He was appointed to the Hillsborough Independent Panel and penned much of its subsequent report which led directly to the quashing of the 96 inquest verdicts of accidental death, and the ordering of the new inquests and a full criminal investigation into the tragedy.

In the statement, the author and criminologist reiterated criticism of the failure of successive governments to act on behalf of those affected by the disaster.

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."

Prof Scraton provided submissions to the 1997-1998 judicial scrutiny undertaken by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith and remained highly critical of the inquiry, describing it as a "debacle".

Some Hillsborough campaigners have already received honours from the Queen.

Prof Scraton acknowledged his decision "might come as a disappointment to some Hillsborough families, survivors and whoever nominated me".

However, he added: "Finally, 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."

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