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Chester council praises Hillsborough families and attacks Sun newspaper

Cheshire West and Chester Council support city boycott of controversial tabloid

Members of Labour-controlled Cheshire West and Chester Council passed a motion praising the ‘dignity and courage’ of the Hillsborough families as well as supporting a boycott of The Sun newspaper.

Labour members at full council in Winsford supported the resolution while most Tory councillors abstained on grounds it was a matter for the individual whether they chose to associate with the national tabloid.

The Sun has been widely attacked and castigated over its infamous front page which blamed the fans for the tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest which led to the death of 96 Liverpool fans.

On April 26 last year a jury returned verdicts of unlawful killing in relation to each victim. Criminal proceedings are now active against six individuals.

Among those killed from this area were 19-year-old James Delaney, 29-year-old Jimmy Hennessy, and 29-year-old Chris Edwards, all from Ellesmere Port, 18-year-old Jonathon Owens, from Chester, 17-year-old Henry Rogers from Dodleston and 34-year-old Vincent Fitzsimmons from Winsford.

Labour Cllr Paul Donovan (Sutton), who moved the motion, seconded by Cllr Richard Beacham (Newton), said the resolution arose from an approach by the families of the three Ellesmere Port victims. He said neighbouring authorities had passed similar motions.

Reading the resolution to council, he said: “Cheshire West and Chester Council praises the dignity and courage displayed by families and deplores the behaviour of some in positions of responsibility and public trust.

“This council recognises and will not forget the hurt and distress caused to the families and friends of the 96 during this period, not least in part due to lies and slurs published in a British national newspaper.

“As such, Cheshire West and Chester Council will support all local vendors who choose to stop selling The Sun newspaper; ensure that elected members and staff do not advertise or give interviews to The Sun newspaper and supports any reasonable and lawful campaign that raises awareness of proven injustice and/or lies in regard to the events at Hillsborough or elsewhere.”

Tory opposition leader Cllr Lynn Riley (Frodsham), who hails from Sheffield originally, gave an emotional speech but was unable to support the motion and abstained along with most of her colleagues except Cllr Jill Houlbrook (Upton) who voted in favour and Cllr James Pearson (Davenham and Moulton) who voted against.

Police officers link hands as fans make their way on to the pitch at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989

She said: “The pain and the passion of the families of the 96 along with the dignity and determination they have brought to their battle for justice is humbling for us all and is starkly contrasted with the insidious cover-up by the authorities and the shameful press coverage in some publications.”

But Cllr Riley added: “I do however struggle with the part of the motion that seeks to limit certain freedoms for the residents of this borough and members of this council. However abhorrent the actions of The Sun, it’s for individuals to choose to buy the paper or not, it’s for individual businesses to choose to sell it or not and it’s for members of this council to choose to speak to it or not.”

There was a round of applause in the chamber when the motion was carried.

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