South Yorkshire Police’s Hillsborough disaster cover-ups exposed

Hillsborough Disaster.
Hillsborough Disaster.

SOUTH Yorkshire Police made more than 100 cover ups as it tried to deflect blame for the Hillsborough disaster, it has been revealed today.

Emergency services made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the disaster onto innocent fans, newly published documents about the tragedy have revealed.

The disclosures were made by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which has been overseeing the release of thousands of official documents relating to Britain’s deadliest sporting disaster.

Ninety six Liverpool supporters died in a crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989, where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

A public inquiry by Lord Justice Taylor found that the main cause of the disaster was a failure of police control.

But that inquiry did not have access to all the documents - totalling 450,000 pages that were released today.

Today’s report found police tried “to develop and publicise a version of events that focused on - allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.

Officers carried out police national computer checks on the dead to “impugn the reputations of the deceased”.

Mr Cameron added: “In terms of changing the record of events, we already know that police reports were significantly altered but the full extent was not drawn to Lord Justice Taylor’s attention.

“Today’s report finds that 164 statements were significantly amended - and 116 explicitly removed negative comments about the policing operation - including its lack of leadership.”

Mr Cameron said the report also revealed ground safety at Hillsborough was “compromised at every level” with the stadium failing to meet minimum standards. There had been a crush at the same match the previous year from which lessons had not be learned.

The documents show there was a delay from the emergency services when people were being crushed and killed.

And for the first time it has been revealed that South Yorkshire Ambulance Service documents were “subject to the same process” as police reports, the panel said.

They went on to say the wrongful allegations about the fans’ behaviour later printed in some newspapers, particularly The Sun, originated from “a Sheffield press agency, senior SYP officers, an SYP Police Federation spokesperson and a local MP”.

Introducing the report to the Hillsborough families at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, Bishop James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool and chairman of the panel, 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.”