Hillsborough – further statement – May 28th 2021

I wish to make this further statement, having read the misleading report in the Guardian tonight. This accuses me of “declining to retract my remarks or apologise, and describes a complaint made against me today by the Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool. They accuse me in essence of trashing the Warrington Inquest verdicts of 2016. That is false.

I have never disrespected (or even spoken of) the inquest verdicts. I never would disrespect any lawful court verdict. This is richly ironic moreover, as it comes from the two Mayors (both former Members of Parliament, and one a former cabinet minister) who were publicly calling the ruling of the High Court Judge directing the jury to acquit my client “a disgrace.” This was the same day and within minutes, before his lengthy judgment can even have been read by them. What could be more reckless and subversive of the rule of law than their own comments?

I must be crystal clear. Obviously I was not clear in my answers to Mr. Chiles. I was referring to the evidence which my client had cut in 1989 thus disproving the allegation of cover-up which has dogged him over so many decades.

Nobody who was in court, or who reads my opening speech with care even now, should be in doubt about my meaning. In that speech I quoted only a small part of the police evidence against the Liverpool fans from 1989. There was far more in the same vein which Mr Metcalf had advised to exclude likewise.

In recent days, I have been humbled to correspond with some survivors and family members who have explained to me with complete courtesy and patience, why my words caused them pain. I have explained in turn it was never my wish or intention.

I was simply trying to explain on the radio why my client’s acquittal was no “disgrace” as trumpeted by the Mayors, but actually a sound legal and moral verdict on the evidence.

I apologise again unequivocally for the pain my words unintentionally caused these good people. My offence lies in not making it clear that I was referring to actual evidence heard at the Metcalf trial, which my client to his credit had cut in 1989. I was not endorsing it.

Jonathan Goldberg QC

 

Hillsborough – Trial of Peter Metcalf – My Clarification

I regret that a comment I made on Radio 5 Live yesterday has been taken out of context and badly misunderstood.

The last thing I intended was to cause further upset to the bereaved families, or the survivors, or the fans, let alone the city of Liverpool. I had said this in my opening speech and I stand by the words:

32 years have elapsed, but no one with a heart can fail to recognise the tragedy of Hillsborough, to the bereaved and grieving families, and indeed the city of Liverpool. The families have our very greatest respect. Not a word I say in this trial is meant to diminish that respect, let alone the city of Liverpool or its Football Club.

I also said however:

What we all want today is Justice. But Justice can vary according to where you stand. The prosecution say that a professional man, a solicitor of good character intentionally – in other words knowingly and deliberately – perverted justice 32 years ago…

I have no personal knowledge or opinions on the tragic events of 1989. I was of course not a witness there. My role as defence counsel was to make an intensive study of the enormous case papers and the rival contentions and controversies of 1989, and like my client in 1989 with his clients the SYP, to put forward his case in its best light possible.

My comment yesterday was intended to refer to the evidence recently given in the course of the prosecution case, concerning the disputes which existed in 1989 and 1990. There was acute controversy between the fans and the police over the true causes of the disaster. It was necessarily a live issue at Mr Metcalf’s trial. The verdicts of the inquest jury at Warrington in 2016 were (as a matter of law) not relevant or admissible, or binding on this issue in any way.

The point I was intending to make yesterday and which I had made clearly in my opening speech to the jury, was that my client as solicitor to the police, had advised that harsh contemporaneous criticisms by police officers of the Liverpool fans should be cut from their witness statements.

The force of this point was that my client resisted the inclusion of those parts of their statements which laid great blame upon allegedly drunken and/or ticketless and/or disorderly Liverpool fans outside the turnstiles. I read numerous such statements from officers of different ranks, detailing their allegations. The Taylor Interim Report later adopted some of this evidence nonetheless in its paragraphs 63 to 70 and 185.

We elicited before the jury many passages which Mr Metcalf had advised to be cut. This demonstrated an important plank of his defence, in denying he had been party to a cover-up.

I made the point very clearly at several stages of the trial, that the jury were not here to, and could not possibly, decide the truth of the police allegations. The judge echoed this. The point was that Mr Metcalf had advised they ought to be cut.

I did not realise in yesterday’s unscripted and live conversation with Mr Chiles that I had not made this point clear. Mr Chiles did not intervene. He says today he is sorry he did not. If he had, I would have clarified these matters right away.

I have received many emails and messages. I have tried to reply courteously to all the courteous ones (many were not). Evidently my words caused distress, for which I do sincerely apologise.

However I hope people will agree that free speech is not heresy because it may differ from another person’s opinion. My client was vindicated on Wednesday let us not forget, from a cloud which blighted his life too over decades.

The High Court Judge’s ruling of ‘no case to answer’ on Wednesday was immediately greeted with cries of “disgrace” (and much worse) by some who should know better. The rush to judgment by those who are not properly informed was regrettable. His ruling surely deserves no less respect than the 2016 inquest verdicts.

I hope this clarification may put matters to rest.

Jonathan Goldberg QC

27th May 2021

 

 

Jonathan Goldberg Q.C. is known as one of the United Kingdom`s leading trial advocates and defenders. His rate of acquittals in high-profile jury trials is second to none. He has defended in over a hundred murder trials, and has expertise in civil cases where there is an interface of civil and criminal disciplines. This includes such fields as: defamation, contentious commercial disputes, inquests, professional disciplinary tribunals, commercial fraud, bankruptcy, employment disputes, disputed wills, and contempt of court. He is famous for his rare combination of fierceness and fearlessness in the courtroom and in negotiation proceedings. He is known for his style and perfectionism.

In order to serve his clients with the individual attention and discretion they deserve, he now practises from his own boutique chambers with his own dedicated clerk and support staff.

Mr. Goldberg has appeared as Defence Counsel in many of the most famous criminal trials of the past 4 decades. He makes regular appearances at the Old Bailey, and has appeared in courts throughout the United Kingdom as well as Malaysia, Ireland, Bermuda, the Caymans, and Gibraltar. He has argued frequently in the House of Lords, Court of Appeal, and Privy Council. He has defended in numerous Courts Martial of the British Armed Forces (and not lost one). He is called upon to advise and consult on challenging cases in Singapore, Hong Kong, Botswana, the Bahamas and the United States, where he is also qualified at the New York State Bar. Because of his unsurpassed rate of success and his piercing advocacy skills Mr. Jonathan Goldberg Q.C. is often called upon to defend solicitors, accountants, police officers and other public figures.

A list of his noteworthy cases appears on this website. A newspaper profile of him appears here.

Mr Goldberg makes frequent television appearances on CNN, Al Jazeera, Sky and ITV commenting on issues of legal interest. For several years he wrote a column in the Jewish Chronicle entitled Ask the QC - see here.

He was named as The Times Lawyer of the Week in 2006 for his successful pro bono defence in both the legal and political arenas, of the brilliant Oxford graduate Eleonora Suhoviy, a Ukrainian national who had lived here since childhood, and whom the Home Office now wished to deport, instead of allowing her dream to become a British citizen - Read More. In March 2017 he won the historic appeal against his murder conviction of Marine Sgt Alexander Blackman known as Marine A. He was again named Times Lawyer of the Week - Read More. It is very rare to be awarded this accolade twice. See also the separate Marine A webpage.

Lord Lane, the then Lord Chief Justice of England, commented in one reported case that:

"We are grateful for the very clear and succinct way in which this appeal has been conducted by Mr Goldberg. It is the view of all the members of this Court that the way in which he conducted the case was admirable".

Richard Drax MP said in the House of Commons (Hansard for September 16th 2015):

Regrettably, I am not as eminent, as bright, as intelligent or as experienced as Mr Goldberg, and sadly I never will be…