Hillsborough victim and screenwriter nominated for Freedom of Liverpool

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  • Jimmy McGovern
    British writer
Flowers and tributes left at the Hillsborough Memorial outside Anfield stadium (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Flowers and tributes left at the Hillsborough Memorial outside Anfield stadium (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

The 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster has been nominated for the Freedom of Liverpool along with Jimmy McGovern who wrote a screenplay about the tragedy.

Andrew Devine, 55, died in July, more than 32 years after he suffered serious injuries at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

His name will join the 96 other victims of the disaster who were posthumously awarded the freedom of the city in September 2016, after inquests ruled they had been unlawfully killed.

Undated file photo of Andrew Devine (then aged 30) after emerging from an eight-year vegetative state following the Hillsborough disaster (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)
Undated file photo of Andrew Devine (then aged 30) after emerging from an eight-year vegetative state following the Hillsborough disaster (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

Mr Devine will be formally nominated for the honour at a meeting of Liverpool City Council on Wednesday December 8 along with McGovern, who is being recognised for contribution to British TV, film and theatre over the past 40 years.

The screenwriter said: “To be nominated along with Andrew, and to join the other 96 men, women and children whose lives were unlawfully taken away that day at Hillsborough, on that roll of honour is truly humbling.”

McGovern, 72, grew up in the Kensington area of Liverpool and began his career on soap Brookside, before going on to create dramas including crime series Cracker and Time, which aired this year starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham.

Jimmy McGovern (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)
Jimmy McGovern (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

In 1996, his docu-drama Hillsborough aired and examined the build-up and fall out from the disaster at the match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest.

He said: “I’ve always tried throughout my career to give something back to Liverpool and have had to fight, at times, to have my work filmed there.

“To receive this nomination at a time when the city’s TV and film industry is on the rise, gives me immense pleasure.

“I’ve also worked very hard to give a voice to those who society choose to ignore, especially victims of injustice, so for my nomination to celebrate that is hugely vindicating.

“For me, Hillsborough is my greatest play.

“It may not be my best written, but it’s the one that I hold closest to my heart and the only script I’ve kept a copy of in a safe.”

Other famous Freemen of the city include The Beatles; Sir Ken Dodd, Gerry Marsden, Sir Kenny Dalglish and Bob Paisley.

McGovern said: “Of course to be seen alongside icons and heroes such as The Beatles, the Mersey poets, Sir Kenny and Bob Paisley gives me a huge thrill, but it’s the 97 that I feel the most honour to be next to and to whose memory I dedicate my nomination.”

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Mary Rasmussen said: “There is something wonderful and poetic that full council will receive the nomination for Freedom of Liverpool for Jimmy McGovern on the same day as Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster.

“We all know how much Hillsborough means to Jimmy, not just professionally, but on a human level too, and we all know how much happiness it will bring him to see that his nomination will be forever connected with all those that were unlawfully killed that day.

“I’m sure their families and the survivors, whose story he strove so hard to tell when no-one wanted to listen, will be delighted too.”

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