“Fans didn”t make our jobs any easier”: Most senior Hillsborough policeman still serving continues to blame Liverpool supporters despite damning reportPressure building on Sir Norman Bettison to quit as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, as he was a senior officer at South Yorkshire Police in 1989Sir Norman says he has nothing to hide and maintains fans made police”s job “harder than it needed to be”Former Tory MP named as one source of the Sun”s “The Truth” coverage apologisesFamilies of dead call for him to “scurry up a drainpipe somewhere” as he was in charge of presenting the force”s case post HillsboroughFormer South Yorkshire chief constable Richard Wells says police prosecutions “absolutely essential”Documents show that police statements were systematically changed or deleted and PM confirms at least 164 were adapted by the policeUp to 41 of the dead could have been saved, and families may get fresh compensation packages as new inquests look inevitableLabour attempt to blame Tory government of 1989 and are linking cover-up to miner”s strikeSouth Yorkshire Police may refer themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over scandal
Under fire: West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Sir Norman Bettison, is being pressured from all sides to quit because of Hillsborough
One of Britain”s most senior police officers is resisting huge pressure to quit, maintaining today he did nothing wrong after the Hillsborough disaster and that fans did contribute to the tragedy that claimed 96 lives.
Families of the dead want West Yorkshire Police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison to resign, accusing him of spreading “black propaganda” to force the blame on to innocent supporters while he worked at South Yorkshire Police.
In a statement today Sir Norman insisted he has “absolutely nothing to hide” and said fans made the job of the police “harder than it needed to be” on that fateful day.
Up to 41 of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough could potentially have been saved, the report into the disaster revealed yesterday.
Around 164 police statements were altered to look more favourable, the dead, including children, were given blood tests to try to prove they were drunk and illicit criminal record checks were carried out by police in what is being called the biggest cover up in British history.
Trevor Hicks, chair of the families support group, who lost two daughters at Hillsborough, is one of many stating firmly that Bettison must resign, adding: “If he is anything of aman, he will stand down and scurry up a drainpipe somewhere.”
Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, also piled more pressure on Sir Norman by saying”It would not be right for serving officers to stay in post,” while MPs suggested he should be stripped of his knighthood and Prime Minister David Cameron refused to give his backing to the beleaguered chief constable.
The Hillsborough report, released yesterday, said Sir Norman Bettison”s job at the time had been to present South Yorkshire Police”s case after the 96 deaths.
At an important meeting he showed a video of CCTV footage of the disaster, which he gave a commentary to.
The report says he said: “Perimeter fences were the result of hooliganism – walls demolished, missile attacks on police officers, supporters climbing perimeter fences, pitch invasion”, adding the final example “was thought to be the case at Hillsborough”.
The meeting also heard that the Liverpool crowd trying to get into the ground were “massively uncooperative”.
Speaking for the first time today SirNorman, who was chief inspector at South Yorkshire in 1989, said: “I really welcome the disclosure of all the facts that can be known becauseI have absolutely nothing to hide. I read the 395 page report from cover to cover last night and that remains my position.
“Fansbehaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be.
“But it didn”t cause the disaster any more than the sunny day that encouragedpeople to linger outside the stadium as kick off approached.
“I held those views then, I hold them now. I have never, since hearing the Taylor evidence unfold, offered any other interpretation in public or private.
“The panel, inmy view, has produced a piece of work that will stand the test of time and scrutiny. Whilst not wishing to become a conducting rod for all the genuine and justified hurt and anguish, I would invite anyone to do the same as me and read the document and the papers online.”
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You”ll never walk alone: A huge crowd gathers at St George”s Hall in Liverpool for last night”s vigil for the 96 Victims of the Hillsborough disaster
Moving: A banner with the words “We Never Walk Alone” hung from St George”s Hall as people clap in respect for those killed in the tragedy
Reacting to his statement Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost her son James, 18, in the tragedy, said: “Quite frankly I am quite angry about it and I think he should resign.
Angry: Families campaigner Trevor Hicks says that Sir Norman should quit immediately
“He should do the decent thing and resign, no matter what he is saying in his statement today.
“Heis still saying the fans made the job more difficult for the police. Heought to be ashamed of himself. Do the decent thing Mr Bettison -resign.”
Former Home Secretary Jack Straw is one of many voices who says Sir Norman, who was also chief constable of Merseyside Police, should consider his position.
“I understand the concerns of the families. I think it is for his employersand for Sir Norman, between them,” he said.
“He”s bound to be considering [his position] – it”s inevitable. He canread the newspapers, and I would have hoped he would have been considering itfor some time. I can see the point that the families are making. On the otherhand, my dealings personally with Sir Norman suggested that he was a finepolice officer.”
Prosecuting the police who cooked up “the biggest cover up in history” at Hillsborough is “absolutely essential”, a former chief constable has said.
Richard Wells, who took over at South Yorkshire Police a year after the 1989 tragedy that killed 96, admitted the scale of the conspiracy to pin the blame on the innocent dead and injured had left him “disappointed and angry”.
Mr Wells also slammed forces across Britain for their “culture of authoritarianism, defensiveness [and] excessive secrecy” at the time, admitting he too “swallowed,to my great regret now, the prevailing account – that the statements had been looked at for criminal justice purposes and emotional, non-evidential material had been removed”.
A matter of hours after the disaster in April 1989, officers had already started a campaign to smear supporters and fabricate evidence to prevent their failures coming to light.
There was no expression of support for Sir Norman from Downing Street today when David Cameron”s official spokesman was questioned by reporters on his position.
The spokesman was asked several times at a daily press briefing in Westminster whether the Prime Minister continued to have “faith” in Sir Norman as chief constable, but declined to respond directly to the question.
“The Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons yesterday setting out his views on this issue, the spokesman replied.
And with prosecutions potentially looming for those involved in the cover up, asked if Mr Cameron would support a criminal investigation into events at Hillsborough the spokesman added: “It is for the relevant authorities to make decisions based on the evidence.
“There was a report published yesterday and they also published hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence. It is obviously going to take some time to consider that.
“But it is a matter for the police and prosecutors as to whether there is a criminal investigation, just as it is a matter for the IPCC to make a decision on whether or not to look at issues of police conduct.”
Meanwhile, because it is at the centre of the scandal, South Yorkshire Police said it was looking in detail at the material released by the panel and its report and may refer itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It said it needed to do this before it can make a decision on whether any specific matters should be referred to the police watchdog.
In a statement, the force said: “South Yorkshire Police is currently reviewing a wide variety of matters raised in the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel with a view to making a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”
Sombre: Thousands including current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, left, attended the vigil along with the city”s famous comedian John Bishop
Justice: Kenny Dalglish, Jamie Carragher, Liverpool FC”s Managing Director Ian Ayre, and former Everton player Graeme Sharp also attended the vigil
FA – WE”RE SORRY ABOUT TRAGEDY
Football Association chairman David Bernstein has offered “a full and unreserved apology” to all those affected by the Hillsborough disaster.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel”s report into the events at the FA Cup semi-final 23 years ago revealed a police cover-up had taken place which had intended to shift blame for the disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, to the victims themselves.
The ground did not have a valid safety certificate at the time of the match. Sheffield Wednesday yesterday apologised and Bernstein today followed suit.
He said in a statement: “We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected.
“This fixture was played in the FA”s own competition, and on behalf of the Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to all of the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone connected to the City of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson was today forced to apologise for an offensive article he wrote in 2004.
He said he was “very, very sorry” for comments he made about Liverpool fans involved in the Hillsborough disaster.
His article in the Spectator article was written in the wake of the death of British hostage Ken Bigley in Iraq, but went on to criticise “drunken” Liverpool fans at Hillsborough.
It read: “The deaths of more than 50 Liverpool football supporters at Hillsborough in 1989 was undeniably a greater tragedy than the single death, however horrible, of Mr Bigley; but that is no excuse for Liverpool”s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played inthe disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon.
“The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident.”
Today he apologised.
“I”m very, very glad that this report does lay to rest the false allegation that was made at the time about the behaviour of those fans,” he said.
“I”m glad that this independent report has finally nailed the myth that drunken fans were in any way responsible for the deaths of 96 people.
“That was a lie that unfortunately and very, very regrettably got picked up in a leader in the Spectator in 2004, which I was then editing.
“I went to Liverpool to apologise unreservedly for that mistake and I repeat that apology today.
“It was sloppy to repeat the old canard that the Hillsborough tragedy was caused by drunken fans, when the inquiry report found no evidence for this whatever.
“To judge by the huge mail I have received, that mistake caused real offence and hurt. Faced with such anger, any editor would feel obliged to make amends, and that is what I do now.”
Police officers and other officials recognised with an honour following the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago but implicated in the cover-up should be stripped of their awards, an MP said today.
The SDLP”s Mark Durkan (Foyle) said Parliament”s Honours Forfeiture Committee should review awards handed to anyone involved in the tragedy which cost of the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
Speaking outside parliament, Mr Durkan added: “There was a concerted campaign of cover-up and smear in relation to the Hillsborough disaster and it included police officers and went beyond police
“It”s not for me to start naming people. The knighthoods are the obvious ones that in my view the Forfeiture Committee should be considering.
“In the past it has needed a conviction before the committee has reviewed an honour but that didn”t happen with Fred Goodwin (the former boss of Royal Bank of Scotland).
“In light of the anger and shock that there has been about the cover-up in relation to Hillsborough, there is an overwhelming case for the Forfeiture Committee to review these honours.”
Respects: Liverpool players carry lanterns as they attend the vigil last night for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster
Vigil: The players place the lanterns containing a single candle down on the steps in front of St George”s Hall
“DEEPLY AND SINCERELY SORRY”: FORMER TORY MP NAMED AS ONE SOURCE OF SUN”S COVERAGE APOLOGISES
Apology: Sir Irvine Patnick pictured in 1994
A former Conservative MP named as one of the sources behind The Sun’s controversial coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy today said he was “deeply and sincerely sorry” for the part he played in the scandal.
Sir Irvine Patnick said he had been given “wholly inaccurate” information by some members of the police and was “appalled” at the extent of the cover-up surrounding the disaster.
But the former Tory MP for Sheffield Hallam said he “totally” accepted responsibility for repeating the information, which led to the tabloid newspaper’s notorious front page story headlined The Truth.
In a statement issued through the Conservative Party, Sir Irvine said: “I would like to put on the record how appalled and shocked I was to discover the extent of the deceit and cover-up surrounding these events.
“It is now clear that the information I received from some police officers at the time was wholly inaccurate, misleading and plain wrong.
“However, I totally accept responsibility for passing such information on without asking further questions.
“So, many years after this tragic event, I am deeply and sincerely sorry for the part I played in adding to the pain and suffering of the victims’ families.”
Sir Irvine, 82, was named by the Hillsborough Independent Panel yesterday as one of the sources who briefed journalists that Liverpool fans were “drunk and aggressive” and forced entry into the football ground, contributing to the deadly crush.
The panel found the origin of The Sun’s story, along with negative coverage in other newspapers, was a Sheffield-based news agency, which had been briefed by officers from South Yorkshire Police (SYP), a local Police Federation spokesman and Sir Irvine.
Their allegations were reported by White’s News Agency and were based on meetings with police officers and interviews with Sir Irvine and Paul Middup, the secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation.
The report states “Mr Patnick based his comments on a conversation with police officers on the evening of the disaster while the officers were in considerable distress.”
Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who wrote the headline, apologised yesterday and said he had been “totally misled”.
After the revelations emerged yesterday a Labour MP wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for the former government whip to be stripped of his knighthood over his “shameful” role in the aftermath of the disaster.
Backbencher John Mann said: “The shameful and disgusting behaviour of Sir Irvine Patnick is a significant feature in the Hillsborough independent panel report and his knighthood should be removed immediately.”
Former home secretary Jack Straw accused Margaret Thatcher”s government of creating a “culture of impunity” in the police that was on display in its handling of the Hillsborough disaster.
AngeringConservatives, the Labour MP said the police felt they could “rule the roost” in the years after the 1984 miners” strike in which they played such a crucial role on behalf of the then prime minister.
MrStraw expressed regret that a review he ordered in 1997 had failed to “get to the bottom” of the tragedy or the police cover-up laid bare yesterday by the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.
But he suggested the behaviour of South Yorkshire Police reflected a culture presided over by the Thatcher administration.
“Oneother reflection I have about this is the state of the police generallyin the late 1980s, and the fact that the Thatcher government, because they needed the police to be a partisan force, particularly for the miners” strike and other industrial troubles, created a culture of impunity in the police service,” he told BBC Radio 4″s Today programme.
“Theyreally were immune from outside influences and they thought they could rule the roost, and that is what we absolutely saw in South Yorkshire.”
Labour also called for a criminal investigation, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, into the wrongdoing uncovered by the Hillsborough report.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the inquest into the deaths should be reopened as soon as possible and granted full access to all the original and unaltered evidence.
She added: “The double injustice for the families is in the scale and extent of the cover-up and the denial of truth by people and institutions that exist to provide just that. Clearly the inquest must focus on the terrible loss of life, and will not focus on the subsequent misinformation and altering of evidence.
“That is why we are asking the Home Office to set out a proper separate investigation into the cover-up and what happened in South Yorkshire Police, including looking at criminal charges.”
Vindication: Supporters sing You”ll Never Walk Alone during the vigil
The staggering disclosures proved deeply distressing to relatives and will increase demands for new inquests into their deaths.
Their persistent argument that some of their loved ones could have been resuscitated had they been properly treated is shockingly vindicated.
Failures in leadership, communicationproblems and shortages of basic life-saving equipment, combined with the absence of an organised triage to assess injuries, mean – to families’ horror – dozens of fans might have lived with proper treatment.
That figure was based on post-mortem examinations which showed they may have had heart, lung or blood circulation function for some time after being pulled from the crush.
Chillingly, the report states that placing any fans who were merely unconscious on their backs would have obstructed their airways, resulting in their deaths.
Plea: The Liverpool Echo”s splash yesterday in light of the comments made by the Prime Minister with regards to the Hillsborough disaster
Infamously, only one ambulance made it on to the pitch in the immediate aftermath of the crush, but not eventhe victims’ families had realised the scale of the betrayal. Many relatives have long been convinced that their loved ones could have beensaved by a swifter response.
One of those, Anne Williams, 60, established from witnesses that her son Kevin, 15, was lifted from the pen at 3.28pm and laid on the pitch, alive but weak.
She took a statement from Special Constable Debra Martin, who was among those ferrying the dead and injured to the ground’s gym.
Miss Martin told Mrs Williams: ‘I stayed with Kevin. I felt for a pulse at the base of his neck and… there was a slight blip. I picked him up in my arms and he opened his eyes.
‘I’ll never forget the look in that little boy’s eyes. And he just said, “Mum” and carried on looking for a few more seconds.’
Pathologists now argue that broken bones in Kevin’s neck caused his airways to swell; a simple rubber tube down his throat would have saved him.
The police, however, held a fleet of ambulances outside the ground, so medical help did not reach the injured.
Mrs Williams has spent 23 years fighting for ‘official recognition that Kevin died needlessly’.
Yesterday’s report reveals how two ambulance officers at Hillsborough, Paul Eason and Patrick Higgin, at first failed to realise fans were dying in the crush and did not activate a major incident procedure which would have seen all resources sent to the ground.
At 3.08pm, police at the ground requested ‘a fleet of ambulances’. The response from control was ‘well, we can’t do that’ because their officers on the ground needed to assess the situation.
The report found police failed to use the code word ‘catastrophe’, which would have triggered the major incident plan.
Chief ambulance officer Albert Page later said there would have been ‘no point in deluging the ground with paramedics’, because they were not trained to work in crowds, the reportreveals.
Together: The names of all the 96 Hillsborough victims are displayed at St George”s Place in Liverpool City Centre as thousands of people gathered for a vigil last night
Never forgotten: A man touches the names of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster inscribed on the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield stadium
23 years waiting for the truth: A man wears a T-shirt remembering those who died as he takes part in the vigil in the centre of Liverpool
Poignant: A bouquet with the number 96 sits next to the lanterns at St Georges Hall in Liverpool for last night”s vigil
Beacons: Ninety-six lanterns sit outside St Georges Hall, remembering each of the victims of the tragedy
“The world will understand why we would not staysilent”: A poignant message is left beneath one of the lanterns, which were placed beneath a memorial banner
Shocking: Liverpool fans are pulled to safety on to the upper tier from the crush that was happening below at Hillsborough
Abandoned: After the cup semi was stopped Liverpool Manager Kenny Dalglish is comforted by a police officer, as he and Nottingham Forest Manager Brian Clough came off the Hillsborough pitch
Chaos: Thousands spilled onto the turf to avoid the crush that was happening in the stand
Failures on the day were compounded by a subsequent cover-up in which unspecified senior staff at South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service ensured damning testimonies were kept secret.
The panel investigating the disaster found that out of 101 statements given by ambulance personnel, 49 had been altered, 16 of themcontaining ‘substantial’ deletions or additions.
One unnamed ambulance worker’s reference to access to the pitch being ‘pitifully inadequate’ was removed.
Devastating: The work of the independent panel led by the Bishop of Liverpool Reverend James Jones, left, prompted a full apology by David Cameron in Parliament
All of this horrific failure should have been exposed by the inquest held into the 95 deaths in 1991 – a 96th supporter, Tony Bland, died in 1993 after being in a coma for four years.
But, fatefully, coroner Dr Stefan Popper ruled that events after 3.15pm would not be considered on the basis that all the victims were dead within 15 minutes of the match kicking off.
As a result, ambulance crews were notcalled to give evidence and the question of whether more fans could have been saved was not addressed.
Expert: Dr Bill Kirkup revealed today that 41 people were living beyond the time suggested by the original coroner
Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said the families wanted to have the inquest verdicts of accidental death quashed.
Former cabinet minister Lord Falconer told BBC Breakfast: “I think it now goes without saying there has got to be a new inquest.
“The evidence of the previous inquest was expressly limited to things that happened before 3.15pm on the day and we now know that 41 people had a potential to survive.
“That has never been investigated by an inquest or by any public inquiryand that now needs to be properly investigated by an inquest.
“Secondly, there needs to be set up a process now where the new documents are looked at and the question of criminal proceedings needs to be looked at.
“The report also made it absolutely clear that the civil actions that were brought by those who had suffered have probably also been settled or resolved on a false basis.”
‘They were a disgrace,they were a mockery and the system should be ashamed of itself,’ said Mrs Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son, James, in the disaster.
The Panel”s medical expert Dr Bill Kirkup said the original inquest was wrong to say they could not be saved after 3.15pm, because a re-examination of evidence showed dozens were still breathing after that time but lost their lives in the chaos.
“In total 41 had evidence that they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15,” he said.
“What I can”t say is how many of them could, in actuality, have been saved. But what I can say is that, potentially, it was in that order of magnitude.”
Revelations: Hillsborough Independent Panel members (from left to right) Raju Bhatt, Sarah Tyacke, Paul Leighton CBE, Peter Sissons, Bishop of Liverpool The Right Reverend James Jones (Chairman), Professor Phil Scraton, Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, Christine Gifford and Katy Jones answer questions at a press conference at the Liverpool”s Anglican Cathedral yesterday afternoon
Findings: After two and a half years the experts found a cover up by the authorities to prevent being held to to task for their failings
THE PANEL”S KEY FINDINGS
From the outset South Yorkshire Police (SYP) sought to deflect responsibility for the disaster on to Liverpool fansA major incident plan was not implemented and there were clear operational failures in response to the disasterThe then chief constable of South Yorkshire Peter Wright and his officers, with the help of local Tory MP Irvine Patnick, sought to cover up the failings, briefing media that drunken, ticketless fans and violence were to blameOfficers claimed fans had planned to arrive late at the stadium, but the report said there was no evidence of thisThere was also “no evidence that they stole from the dead and dying”In contrast, “the vast majority of fans on the pitch assisted in rescuing and evaluating the injured and the dead,” the panel saidThere was also no evidence to support the proposition that alcohol played any part in events.The report found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disasterSouth Yorkshire Ambulance Service documents were also changedThe report found an attempt was made to attack the reputations of those who died by carrying out Police National Computer checks on those who had been drinkingBlood alcohol levels were tested in some survivors as well as in all those who died. In some there was “no apparent medical reason for the test” and no record was kept of the tests or their results in the medical notes of the survivorsDocuments also showed there was a delay from the emergency services when people were being crushed and killedUp to 41 of the fans who died “had potential to survive”. The panel said there were a total of 41 victims who were either alive after 3.15pm – the coroner”s cut off time – or who suffered injuries which were inconsistent with the findings of the pathologists. The coroner ruled that by 3.15pm all the victims had received fatal injuries, which meant that the inquests did not examine the chaotic response after that timeThe original pathologists” evidence of a single, unvarying pattern of death was “unsustainable”, the panel said.The panel also found that access to Cabinet documents revealed that in an exchange about her Government welcoming the Taylor Report into the tragedy, then prime minister Margaret Thatcher expressed her concern that the “broad thrust” of the report constituted a “devastating criticism of the police
Jack Straw, who as home secretary ordered the review by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith in 1997, expressed regret that it was not thorough enough.
The judge identified that some police statements had been altered, but put it down to “at worst an error of judgment”, according to Mr Straw. He also had the “same view as the rest of us” about the conduct of police.
But the Labour MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “With the benefit of hindsight it’s a matter of great regret to me that, although he did it in good faith, it was not as thorough as it could have been.”
He added: “I regret that I had not spotted this. If I could turn the clock back I would do so and some years of heartache for these families could be saved.”
Mr Straw refused to back calls for the resignation of West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison over his involvement in the original probe.
While stressing he “understood the concerns of the families”, Mr Straw added: “My dealings with Sir Norman personally suggest he is a fine police officer.”
The independent panel, led by the Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, also found that police bent on pinning blame for the Hillsborough tragedy on Liverpool fans took blood from thedead, including children, to prove the tragedy was caused by drunk supporters.
Illicit criminal record checks were alsocarried out in a further attempt to take blame away from the authorities and force it on to the 96 dead and hundreds of others injuredthat day.
This misinformation led to an infamous Sun front page, headlined The Truth, that falsely reported thatfans were drunken, violent and stole from corpses.
Kelvin MacKenzie, who was the editor of The Sun at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy and who wrote the headline, offered his “profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline”.
Headded: “It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth.
“I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong.”
The current editor of The Sun also apologised for his newspaper”s role in the Hillsborough tragedy cover-up.
Dominic Mohan said: “Twenty-three years ago The Sun newspaper made a terrible mistake. We published an inaccurate and offensive story about the events at Hillsborough. We saidit was the truth – it wasn”t.
“The Hillsborough Independent Panel has now established what really happened that day. It”s an appalling story and at the heart of it are the police”s attempts to smear Liverpool fans.
“It”s a version of events that 23 years ago The Sun went along with and for that we”re deeply ashamed and profoundly sorry.
“We”ve co-operated fully with the Hillsborough Independent Panel and will publish reports of their findings in tomorrow”s newspaper. We will also reflect our deep sense ofshame.”
Thechief constable of South Yorkshire Police, the force at the centre of the scandal, said he was “profoundly sorry” for his force”s actions in the aftermath of the disaster.
David Crompton said he had been “shocked” by the findings of the report and officers had made “grave errors”.
Hesaid in a statement: “In the immediate aftermath senior officers soughtto change the record of events. Disgraceful lies were told which blamedthe Liverpool fans for the disaster.
“Iam profoundly sorry for the way the force failed on 15th April 1989 andI am doubly sorry for the injustice that followed and I apologise to the families of the 96 and Liverpool fans.”
It came as David Cameron issuedan apology to the families of Hillsborough victims “for all they have suffered in the past 23 years”.
The Prime Minister said they had been unable to “find the truth or find justice for their loved-ones” because of a cover-up.
“Onbehalf of the Government, and indeed of our country, I am profoundly sorry that this double injustice has been left uncorrected for so long,”he said.
Smears that Liverpool fans had caused the tragedy were also completely untrue, he said.
“Today”s report is black and white, Liverpool fans were not to blame for the disaster.”
Incredibly,blood samples were taken from the dead, including children, to try to prove that they were drunk and had caused the disaster.
Anattempt was made to “impugn the reputations of the deceased by carryingout Police National Computer checks on those with a non-zero alcohol level,” Mr Cameron revealed.
Hillsborough Families Support Group member Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters at Hillsborough, said they would now press for criminal action against those involved in the disaster, adding: “The truth is out today, justice starts tomorrow.”
MrHicks said the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report revealed shocking “depths of depravity” in the way the police tried to blame the fans after the disaster.
He added that the independent report contains findings that are “deeply distressing,” confirming that the police had amended 164 statements and removed 116 negative comments about the policing operation that day.
FormerLiverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has added his voice to the many welcoming the publication of the truth about the Hillsborough disaster and calling for justices for the families affected.
TheScot, in his first spell as Reds boss, was in charge of the side for the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989 at Sheffield Wednesday”s ground when 96 supporters died.
Dalglish was heavily involved in supporting the families in the aftermath of the tragedy and attended numerous funerals – including four in one day.
Itultimately took its toll as he quit Anfield 21 months later with the emotional stress being a significant factor in his decision to walk awayfrom the club.
“Very positive outcome. 23 yrs waiting for the truth next step justice,” Dalglish wrote on Twitter.
Injustice: Prmie Minister David Cameron left the Commons in no doubt the fans were not to blame
Emotional: Margaret Aspinall, left, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, speaks in Liverpool today. Her son James Aspinall, right,was one of the 96 killed
Mr Cameron also said the new evidence raised “must beexamined” and the Attorney General would be considering it as quickly aspossible – raising the prospects of criminal prosecutions.
Hetold MPs: “With the weight of the new evidence in this report, it is right for me today as Prime Minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have suffered over the past 23 years.”
“Inspite of all the investigations they have sensed that their search for truth and justice has been thwarted and that no-one has been held accountable.
“What happened that day – and since – was wrong.
“Itwas wrong that the responsible authorities knew Hillsborough did not meet minimum safety standards and yet still allowed the match to go ahead.
“It was wrong that the families have had to wait for so long – and fight so hard – just to get to the truth.
“And it was wrong that the police changed the records of what happened and tried to blame the fans.
“Weask the police to do difficult and often very dangerous things on our behalf, and South Yorkshire Police is a very different organisation today from what it was then.
“But we do the many, many honourable police men and women a great disservice if we try to defend the indefensible.
“Itwas also wrong that neither Lord Justice Taylor nor the Coroner looked properly at the response of the other emergency services.”
HOW NEGATIVE STATEMENTS FROM POLICE OFFICERS WERE DOCTORED
One of the most shocking aspects of today”s report is the extent to which police statements were altered by South Yorkshire Police before they were submitted to the official inquiry.
The panel found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
This process was conducted by a small team of police officers on the authority of the Chief Constable.
The following comments by police officers were among some of those deleted:
“I at no time heard any directions being given in terms of leadership””I have to state that even at this stage and this location and with a number of higher ranks in the area nobody seemed to be organising the injured.”
“Sergeants and Inspectors appeared to be aimlessly milling about and direct radio control appeared to be lost. There did not appear to be any leadership.”
‘The Control Room seemed to have been hit by some sort of paralysis’”Compared to other semi-finals held at Hillsborough, the organisation of this event was poor, as has been the case for most of the season.”
“There was no leadership at the Leppings Lane end following the disaster either in person or on the radio”
Labour leader Ed Miliband added that the report revealed the original inquest was “hopelessly inadequate”.
“The people of Liverpool were systematically smeared and portrayed as its perpetrators,” he said.
“Imaginefor a moment any of us waving a loved one off as they go to a football match, and then the impossible grief of your loved one not returning.
“Thenimagine being unable to grieve in peace, but facing two decades of torment, a cloud of suspicion, innuendo and downright lies spread about the person you loved: lies about rushing the gate, lies about ticketlessfans, lies about the drunkenness of the victims.
“This is what the Hillsborough families had to endure from day one of this tragedy.”
DAVID CAMERON”S STATEMENT REFLECTS ON THE PAIN OF LOSING A CHILD
Pain: David Cameron yesterday evoked the memory of his son Ivan as he spoke of the “double injustice” suffered by the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims
David Cameron yesterday evoked the memory of his son Ivan as he spoke of the ‘double injustice’ suffered bythe families of the 96 Hillsborough victims – saying it was no longer right to ‘defend the indefensible’.
Ina sombre statement, the Prime Minister offered relatives his ‘profound apology’ and admitted they had been ‘right’ to believe there had been a cover-up.
He said: ‘Anyone who has lost a child knows the pain never leaves you.
‘Butto read a report years afterwards that says – and I quote – ‘a swifter,more appropriate, better focused and properly equipped response had thepotential to save more lives’, can only add to the pain.
‘Notenough people in this country understand what the people of Merseyside have been through. This appalling death toll of so many loved ones lost was compounded by an attempt to blame the victims.’
For most of his statement, MPs sat silently and shook their heads in sorrow.
Butas Mr Cameron revealed some of the more shocking findings, many gasped with horror and were unable to contain their emotions.
MrCameron said the report was ‘black and white’ in saying that the fans were ‘not the cause of the disaster’ and paid tribute to the ‘incrediblestrength and dignity’ of the families throughout their long fight for justice.
He said: ‘On behalf of the Government, and indeed of our country, I am profoundly sorry that this double injustice has been left uncorrected for so long.’He added: ‘The families have long believed that some of the authoritiesattempted to create a completely unjust account of events that sought to blame the fans for what happened.
‘Thefamilies were right. The evidence in today’s report includes briefings to the media and attempts by the police to change the record of events.’
He said there was ‘new evidence’ that the authorities failed, saying ‘there is a trail of new documents which show the extent to which the safety of the crowd at Hillsborough was ‘compromised at every level’.
Frank: Labour leader Ed Miliband, in turn, admitted the “uncomfortable truth” that Labour should also have done more during its 13 years in power to help the families
Labour leader Ed Miliband, in turn, admitted the ‘uncomfortable truth’ that Labour should also have done more during its 13 years in power to help the families. Echoing the Prime Minister’s heartfelt apology, Mr Miliband said: ‘It shames us as acountry that it has taken 23 years to get to the truth of what happenedat Hillsborough.
‘The Prime Minister was right to offer an unreserved apology, but all governments during this period bear their share of responsibility for the failure to get to the truth, so we on this side also apologise to the families that we didn’t do enough to help.’
LiverpudlianMP Andy Burnham, who set up the independent panel, said: ‘Finally the full horror of Hillsborough has been revealed.
‘Acatalogue of negligence, appalling failure and sheer mendacity. A tragedy that should have been prevented, lives that should have been saved.’
Reporting by Kirsty Walker
Theindependent report condemned the responses of the authorities to the disaster at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
Apanel, led by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, has examined 450,000 documents and the families of 96 people killed in the Hillsborough tragedy have begun viewing them.
Police and emergency services made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the Hillsborough disaster onto innocent fans, newly published documents about the tragedy revealed.
The disclosures were made by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which has been overseeing the release ofthousands of official documents relating to Britain”s deadliest sporting disaster.
The Bishop of Liverpool said: “For nearly a quarter of a century the families of the 96 and the survivors of Hillsborough have nursed an open wound waiting for answers to unresolved questions. It has been a frustrating and painful experience adding to their grief.
“In spite of all the investigations they have sensed that their search for truth and justice has been thwarted and that no-one has been held accountable.
“The documents disclosed to and analysed by the panel show that the tragedy should never have happened.
“There were clear operational failures in response to the disaster and in its aftermath their were strenuous attempts to deflect the blame onto the fans.
“The panel”s detailed report shows how vulnerable victims, survivors and their families are when transparency and accountability are compromised.
“My colleagues and I were from the start of our work impressed by the dignified determination of the families.”
Headded: “The panel produces this report without any presumption of whereit will lead.
“But it does so in the profound hope that greater transparency will bring to the families and to the wider public a greater understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.
“For it is only with this transparency that the families and survivors, who have behaved with such dignity, canwith some sense of truth and justice cherish the memory of their 96 loved ones.”
In its summary the panel said: “It is evident from analysis of the various investigations that from the outsetSouth Yorkshire Police sought to deflect responsibility for the disaster on to Liverpool fans … there is no evidence to support this view.”
The documents also reveal the “extentto which substantive amendments were made” to statements by South Yorkshire Police to remove or alter “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
Thedocuments show, for the first time, that South Yorkshire Ambulance Service documents were “subject to the same process”, the panel said.
Theywent on to say the wrongful allegations about the fans” behaviour laterprinted in some newspapers, particularly The Sun, originated from “a Sheffield press agency, senior SYP officers, an SYP Police Federation spokesperson and a local MP”.
Poignant: Shoppers in the centre of Liverpool in Clayton Square stand for a 2 minute silence in remembrance to the 96 people who died at Hillsborough this afternoon