Phil Scraton, currently Professor of Criminology at Queen’s University, Belfast, famous for his tireless work at the heart of the Hillsborough Campaign and a supportive figure in the emergence of IDYW, has turned down an Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours List.
Speaking to BBC Rado 4’s Today programme on Friday, Scraton said: “I feel very strongly that for many years the successive governments refused to take seriously the issues that we raised in those early reports and in Hillsborough: The Truth.”
He also said that his contributions to the Lord Justice Stuart-Smith review, set up at the behest of Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1997, were directly criticised.
He added: “I think that many of the people who are involved in offering such honours have been part of that process and I feel very strongly that I could not accept an honour now that these issues have been resolved in the way in which they have.”
Phil also underlined “making a point” against the “outdated notion of an Empire”.
He said: “I think it is inappropriate that people’s public service contribution should be acknowledged in this kind of way.
“I think many states do this but I consider it inappropriate, it is linked directly to some undated notion of an Empire.”
He added: “I think our recognition (of public service) should be devoid of any kind of inference of Empire or those kind of processes.”
But Scraton stressed that his rejection of an honour was not a reflection on those who lost loved ones at Hillsborough.
He told the programme: “My refusal in no way reflects on the acceptance of an honour by family members or campaign leaders, especially Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall, whose work was absolutely central, as with all the families and survivors, in getting this to where we are now.
“But their position is quite different to mine… they’re accepting honours on behalf of the 96 who died and on behalf of the bereaved families and survivors and their campaign. They had dedicated their lives to sustaining this campaign. I was neither bereaved nor was I a survivor, I just did my work as a critical academic.” [my emphasis]
In marking our deep respect for Phil’s integrity and committment we might well affirm our desire to being critical youth workers, ever watchful of governments of whatever supposed persuasion.