If there is one lesson we can learn from events like the Hillsborough inquiry and the revelations about Jimmy Savile's predilections for young people, it is that for all the emphasis on 'whistle blowing' in recent years, the scales of justice are heavily weighted in favour of the wealthy and powerful.
For 23 years the relatives of the 96 victims at Hillsborough had to fight bureaucracy, a venal media, and those protecting their office in order to establish in the public realm what they knew all along. Their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends were killed as a result of massive errors of judgement by an establishment that were prepared to blacken the name of the dead to cover up their own incompetence.
And now the truth about the vile predatory nature of Savile's behaviour is gradually leaking out, more and more people, young and vulnerable at the time, are saying that they told people when it happened, but it was either covered up or they were not believed.
Last year at a private hospital for vulnerable adults with severe learning disabilities, a whistleblower wrote on two occasions to the Health Service Regulator, the Care Quality Commission, complaining that the staff at Winterbourne View were abusing patients. Despite the fact that Avon and Somerset police were aware of 29 incidents at the home between 2008 and 2011, and South Gloucestershire council received 40 “safeguarding alerts”, no-one believed the whistleblower… until the BBC Panorama programme provided incontrovertible filmed evidence exposing a hideous catalog of abuse (what a disgrace that the same corporation refused to show a film they had also made exposing Savile).
Winterbourne View was owned by Castlebeck, which in turn was owned by Lydian Capital Partners, a Geneva-based investment fund backed by a consortium of investors including Irish billionaires Denis Brosnan, Dermot Desmond, JP McManus and John Magnier, the racehorse breeder. The NHS and local authorities pay Castlebeck an average of £3,500 a week to care for each patient. Since 2006, when Lydian Capital bought the company, yearly receipts have risen by 80% to £55m.
Not much chance for a simple whistleblower when faced with that sort of vested interest, I guess. Those who are finally starting to see the truth emerge from Hillsborough have done brilliantly to keep the flame alight in their quest for justice. That there were so many affected must have helped them enormously. But the fact remains, when faced with a powerful and wealthy establishment, more often than not the concerns of ordinary working class people will be brushed aside or swept under the carpet.