HOW must the families of the Hillsborough victims be feeling this week? I can’t begin to imagine. On Wednesday, the case against two South Yorkshire policemen and the force’s former solicitor who had been charged with perverting the course of justice for amending police statements following the deadly crush at an FA Cup semi-final game in Sheffield in 1989 was stopped by the trial judge.

Mr Justice William Davies ruled that there was no legal case to answer because the altered police statements were prepared for Lord Justice Taylor’s public inquiry into the disaster. The inquiry, he ruled, was a non-statutory inquiry – an “administrative exercise” the judge said – and as such “not a course of public justice.”

And so here we are, 32 years after the day that led to the death of 96 football fans, a tragedy played out live on television, and the only conviction in all that time has been of the former secretary of Sheffield Wednesday, Graham Mackrell, found guilty of a single safety offence and fined £6,500.

In 2019, chief superintendent David Duckenfield was acquitted of manslaughter, even though, four years earlier, the former South Yorkshire police commander had admitted his failings had led to the fatal crush on the Leppings Lane terrace during the Hillsborough inquests.

What does this all say about the English legal system, you have to wonder?

And what does it say about a civic society that allows lies to be told about the victims again and again with no apparent accountability?

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Yesterday a QC went on 5 Live and once again accused the Liverpool fans of being “perfectly appalling on the day, causing a riot that led to the gate having to be opened,” a claim rebutted emphatically in the findings of the public inquiry in 2016. That the BBC didn’t challenge him at the time was shameful.

These lies have been repeated again and again since April 1989. The day after the tragedy the Sun newspaper published its infamous front page declaring “The Truth”, claiming that fans were drunk, attacked policemen and stole from the dead. None of it true.

In 2012 the chief constable of the South Yorkshire Police accepted that his force was responsible for the disaster and that senior officers had changed records of the event and told “disgraceful lies”.

And yet, all these years later, in addition to the horror of the events of April 1989 – and if you need to be reminded, read Adrian Tempany’s book And the Sun Shines Now for a heart-breaking first-person account – the families of the Hillsborough victims still see no legal accountability for their loss.

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How must they feel? And how, looking on, must the families of the victims of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire feel? What hope can they have given the Hillsborough example?

And how, some day in the future, will families of Covid victims feel in the wake of the promised public inquiry into the pandemic feel if nothing happens as a result?

As the journalist Peter Apps, who has been extensively covering the inquiry into the Grenfell tragedy, tweeted yesterday: “Victims of atrocities currently seem to be forced into an exhausting, decades long struggle for truth only to be denied any mechanism for justice.”

Do we even need to say how wrong this is?