BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award honours: “an ordinary woman who fought with a mother’s love for what she believed was right and simply refused to give up”

Anne Williams at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield

Anne Williams at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield

Anne Williams, whose fifteen year old son Kevin was killed in the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989, has been honoured by the BBC at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Anne, who campaigned tirelessly on behalf of her son alongside the families of the 95 others who died at Hillsborough, passed away three days after the 24th memorial service at Anfield in April this year. She was awarded the Helen Rollason award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. The Liverpool Echo reports:

Having lost her beloved 15-old-son Kevin in 1989, Anne was at the forefront of those challenging the original inquest verdicts for many years, refusing to give up on the fight for justice despite seeing three memorials to the Attorney General and a petition to the European Court of Human Rights all rejected.

Her tireless campaigning, along with new evidence she uncovered, helped lead to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and, though she received her terminal diagnosis just six weeks after their historic report of September 2012, she was in attendance at the High Court last December to see the accidental death verdicts quashed and new inquests, set to begin next March, ordered.

LACUNA’s first issue: “On Protest”  to be published in February 2014, features an interview with the Chief Civil Servant to the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report. The publication of this report finally vindicated the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and brought to light previously unseen documents which implicated South Yorkshire Police, amongst others, in the disaster and subsequent cover-up. To read more about this story, and find out what it takes to bring about effective change through protest subscribe to our mailing list , like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


How one journalist’s chance encounter on New Years Eve uncovered a scandal that would strike at the heart of the Catholic Church

Philomena Lee and Martin SixsmithThe film “Philomena”, starring Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench, has received rave reviews for it’s portrayal of the relationship between the journalist Martin Sixsmith and Philomena Lee, a woman whose son was taken from her by the Catholic Church when she was an unmarried teenager and sold to adoptive parents in America. A chance encounter at a New Year’s Eve party led to Sixsmith travelling with Philomena, first to Ireland and then America in order to find out what happened to her son. In doing so Sixsmith uncovered systemic abuses of power perpetuated by the Catholic Church in the 1950’s against unmarried mothers and their children. Sixsmith’s moving first person account of the story is available here, although those who have yet to see the film should be warned that it contains spoilers.

The UK release of Philomena coincides with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties appearing before the UNHCR to appeal for an independent investigation into conditions at the Magdalene Laundries, institutions run by religious authorities where women who were deemed to be “fallen” were incarcerated indefinitely. The first edition of LACUNA, which will be published in February 2014, will feature writings on of the role of protest in uncovering the treatment of women and children in the laundries. To ensure that you don’t miss out on this or any other content, subscribe to our mailing list, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

What does it take to expose injustice in the face of systemic opposition?

Rebecca MunroMembers of the Lacuna team headed to the Home Office to find out. Researcher Rebecca Munro (pictured) met with  the Chief Civil Servant to the Hillsborough Independent Panel to discuss the mechanisms through which historic injustices can be brought to light. This meeting revealed some surprising and moving insights and is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how protest can bring about change at the highest levels of government.

The feature based on this interview will be published in the first edition of Lacuna which launches in February 2014. To ensure you don’t miss out on this or any of our other original features follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our mailing list.

Liberty, Fraternity, Equality?

ITN Correspondent Sophie Foster has reported on wildcat strikes that have seen thousands of students take to the streets in response to the deportation of two separate high school students. Foster reports:

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Paris and blockaded high schools in protest at the seperate deportations of students Leonarda Dibrani and Khatchik Kachatryan.

Fifteen-year-old Leonarda, of Roma descent, has become the latest focus of France’s agonised debate over migration after being taken off a school bus and deported to Kosovo.

“We are against expulsion and we don’t agree that a person who is integrated is sent back to her country that she doesn’t even know,” said one student protester.

“Normally, our country is ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ but the problem is that there is a student who was thrown out of his high school, the police came to get him at the end of his classes, and normally they should not have the right to do that. More so, it was someone who was working, not someone who wanted to trouble people,” said another.

For the full story, please visit the ITN website here. For more content like this please subscribe to our mailing list.

Can academics change the world..?

Professor Yash Tandon

Professor Yash Tandon

Professor Yash Tandon believes that they can. Professor Tandon, former Director of the South Centre, member of the interim Uganda Parliament (1979-1980) and political activist has given an exclusive interview to LACUNA in which he discusses his experiences as both an academic and a revolutionary. Professor Tandon was involved in orchestrating the overthrow of Idi Amin’s brutal regime in the late 1970’s, and has spent large periods of his life in exile from the country of his birth. The feature, which will be published in LACUNA’s first edition in February, explores questions including:

  • What does it take to overthrow a despotic regime? What costs do those involved have to bear?
  • Can the ends ever justify the means in the context of protest?
  • How do you judge the right time to act?
  • What can academics achieve in the “real world”?
  • How do you stick to your principles in the face of enormous brutality?
  • What can Syria and Egypt learn from the experiences of Uganda?

For Yash’s fascinating responses to these questions and more please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on Twitter. This is a feature not to be missed.

What can Egypt teach us about the power of protest?

Shashank JoshiShashank Joshi, Research Fellow at the award winning Royal United Services Institute, believes there are lessons we can all learn from Egypt about the dangers of leaderless protest.  His piece, which will be published in the first edition of LACUNA,  offers a nuanced analysis of the factors that impact the ability of protest to effect positive political change . Shashank, who is currently based in London, has previously written for the New York Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times, Times of India, Hindu, Foreign Policy and Caravan, amongst others. For more of his work, click here.

To read original content from authors like Shashank follow us on twitter and subscribe to our mailing list.

Police kept money collected from the dead and dying, Hillsborough Independent Panel reports

090415niphillsborough_3--123928584641526300Jonathan Owen, writing yesterday in the Independent, revealed that officers from South Yorkshire Police Force paid cash found at the Hillsborough stadium into the forces’ finance department, rather than donate it to a fund set up for victims of the disaster. These revelations are particularly distressing in view of allegations made by officers at the time of the disaster, who accused Liverpool fans of robbing from the dead at Hillsborough. This revelation is the latest in a series that have emerged as part of the inquiry into Hillsborough, an inquiry which only took place as a result of decades of tireless campaigning on the part of relatives of the victims.

The first issue of LACUNA will focus on Protest, and aims to examine this topic from a variety of perspectives. What motivates people to continue to protest even when doing so comes at great personal cost? What can protest achieve? How do you protest effectively? These are some of the questions which LACUNA hopes to address.