Margaret Aspinall reveals she'll never get over the guilt she feels for accepting cash for her son's death
Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall has spoken of her heartache at having to accept £1,200 in compensation for the death her son so she could continue to fight for justice.
Speaking at the Gathering, Aspinall said her 18-year-old son James's life had no price but that she had to take the cash to pay for the first inquest into the death of the 96 people who lost their lives at the disaster in 1989.
The event, hosted by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, heard how spirited campaigning can achieve change.
In a poignant talk, Aspinall told the audience that the Hillsborough Families Support Group faced an uphill struggle from the outset against institutions which were being directly funded by government and elsewhere.
And it was only when the then home secretaryTheresa May guaranteed the group money as well as putting a cap on funding to the Police Foundation – which was financing the defence of South Yorkshire Police – that the tide began to turn.
“Without funding we’d never have achieved what we achieved,” she said. “The people who were getting funded were the perpetrators – the police, the ambulance, the council… they all out-funded us. We had to pay £150,000 for our own inquest – £3,000 each. Forty two families had to raise the cash. People think we got millions: I got offered £1,200.39p for the death of my son while the authorities were getting funded to lie.”
Aspinall said she has to live with the fact she accepted the derisory sum “every waking hour” but that it had to be done to fight for truth for her and the 95 other families who lost loved ones as a result of the disaster.
She said: “That’s my biggest guilt – at having to accept this amount for the death of my son because my son’s life had no price. But I had to take it to fight the system.”
Aspinall's tireless campaigning won her a CBE as well as a Woman of Achievement Award last year.