I don’t think they’re saying there’s no criticism allowed, but at the same time he’s correct in that the Express had the choice whether to publish his article or not, so them distancing themselves from it now and acting like he’s some loose cannon who needs to take full responsibility for it being published, is a nonsense.
Think he was a bit silly bringing Hillsborough into it, personally, as it overshadows some of the valid points he did make, but I hope he wins his case anyway.
The paper has a sports editor and an overall editor, either of whom could have pulled the story but didn't, so already that's an issue for them as if they perceived it as in poor taste/offensive/whatever, why did they publish as you say.
Bringing up Hillsborough may be in poor taste and he may have expressed himself poorly, but basically saying "you'd think serious events like x and y would teach us something" is hardly a crime.
Suspect he'll have fun in court.
I just think once you use the H word, everything else (no matter how reasonable or sensible the points raised) gets pushed in to the background, especially since the inquest results came out. But again, as you say, that’s what the guy’s editors are there for. Hanging him out to dry like this and trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility, is pretty shocking really.