FHM faces boycott after Hillsborough 'joke'

FHM: apologised for offence

FHM faces a UK-wide boycott from  outraged football fans over a feature in its Australian edition that poked fun at the 1989 Hillsborough football tragedy in which 96 people died.

The Australian magazine published six pictures of the tragedy, including one of fans crushed against steel mesh at the front of the terracing. The caption said: "Shoppers waited for the doors to open for the end of year sale." Another showed people trying to lift fans to safety with a caption that read: "Get us a beer while you’re there."

The issue was withdrawn from sale in Australia and Emap has agreed to publish a full apology in both the UK and Australia editions. It claims it has contacted support groups and will make donations to their funds.

But by Wednesday, the vice-chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group,  Philip Hammond, told Press Gazette he still had received no response from FHM. He said he wanted all football fans to stop buying the magazine. Hammond has called for the resignations of those involved and plans to consult his solicitor with a view to legal action.  "The apology says that we are going to get money but we don’t want their money. We want the journalist and editor responsible to be sacked.

"I am going to write to every fanzine in the country – including Liverpool FC’s – telling them to ban FHM. People are very upset by it. I think there will be a real boycott." The Sun lost significant sales after it blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster before the FA Cup semi-final tie between the Merseyside club and Nottingham Forest.

A boycott would pose a further blow to FHM, which lost 17 per cent of sales in the latest ABCs.

"I am not satisfied with the apology at all. The damage is done. Copies have been sold already. It has gone too far. I mean, why was it done in the first place? It is sick. It is like me making a joke about Bali. It is the pits," Hammond added.

FHM in London was quick to disassociate itself from the article claiming: "FHM Australia has its own editorial team and these captions were written and published without consultation with the UK edition, or any other edition of FHM."   Geoff Campbell, executive publishing director of FHM in Australia, admitted it had acted in a "totally inappropriate" manner and apologised "unreservedly" for the "anguish and pain" caused to all those touched by the disaster. Emap plans to introduce an editorial review across its international editions.


By Ruth Addicott

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