Hit or Miss? - Culture Secretary makes 'hooligan' reference to Hillsborough

Putting his foot in it: Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to apologise after he appeared to suggest that hooliganism played a part in the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster, when 96 Liverpool fans died.

'The terrible problems that we had in Heysel and Hillsborough in the 1980s seem now to be behind us,' he said. Hunt was being interviewed about England's exit from the World Cup, when he praised the good behaviour of supporters.


Most people of my age can remember where they were as the full horror of Hillsborough unfolded.

I have followed my own club across Europe since I was a child and have seen how police view decent supporters as cattle, even today. And it is that mentality - that fans are a threatening inconvenience - which led in part to the police's operational mistakes at Hillsborough.

So, the subject remains a raw one and families are entitled for that to be so. Which means, of course, that politicians must tread sensitively.

Jeremy Hunt stuck his size nines squarely into the issue and will now appreciate the value of thinking before be speaks. That said, he was quick to apologise and was clearly sincere in his retraction. In terms of how he handled the apology, it was a hit, but in terms of his original comment - miss is an understatement - MISS.

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