TWENTY-FIVE years after
watching the Hillsborough disaster unfold before his eyes, the
Bishop of Brechin, Dr Nigel Peyton, can still vividly recall the
"I remember it was a beautiful
spring day. I was in a pub in Sheffield before the match which was
full of Forest and Liverpool fans," Dr Peyton said.
"It was very good-humoured, and
full of banter, but I sometimes wonder if the people I spoke to
that day are OK. We had a grandstand view of dying Liverpool fans.
It was harrowing. It was impossible to forget. We watched as bodies
were being laid out on the pitch."
Dr Peyton went to the
Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, in April 1989, to watch his
team, Nottingham Forest, play Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.
But instead, he witnessed a tragedy.
"We didn't know what to do.
Your instinct is to want to help, but we could do nothing. We knew
something very terrible was happening," he toldThe Courier, in
Dundee, earlier this week.
"It was clear that it was just
far too full, and at our end of the ground we had plenty of room.
Most of those who died were young people, and I was so relieved
that I didn't take my seven-year-old son with me that weekend."
By the time Dr Peyton had
returned home, 95 Liverpool fans had died, and more than 700 had
The memories of that day will
never fade, Dr Peyton said. "I just happened to be there and it
leaves an imprint forever."
He was speaking as the inquest
into the disaster continued in Warrington. The original inquest, in
1989, recorded a verdict of accidental death, but this conclusion
was rejected by the families of the victims.
In 2009, the Government
established the Hillsborough Independent Panel to review the
thousands of documents associated with the disaster. The panel was
chaired by the then Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James
When it reported, in September
2012, the panel found that no Liverpool fans were to blame for the
disaster. As a result of their report, the Attorney General applied
for the original inquest verdict to be quashed, and the new inquest
was ordered by the High Court in December 2012.
After the publication of the
panel's report, Bishop Jones retired in August last year, but
continued to mediate between the families of the victims and the
new investigation into the disaster (News, 13 September 2013).
Alongside the second inquest,
the Independent Police Complaints Commission is also investigating
possible police failings which may have contributed to the deaths
of the fans.
Andy Burnham, the Labour MP for
Leigh and Culture Secretary at the time that the panel was
established, paid tribute to the work of Bishop Jones on
"Thanks to [Bishop] James
Jones, who more than any before him in his position has brought
peace and healing to this city."
He was speaking at the 25th
anniversary memorial service for the Hillsborough disaster, at
Anfield stadium, on Tuesday. At 3.06 p.m., the time the game was
halted in 1989, bells from Liverpool Cathedral and churches across
Merseyside rang out 96 times, one for each fan who died.
The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, tweeted on
Tuesday that he had visited Hillsborough stadium on the
anniversary: "Moving to visit Hillsborough this afternoon to
remember the 96 who died and all whose lives were profoundly
changed 25 years ago today."