Socialist Worker

Hillsborough: Police lied about Liverpool fans stealing

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2425

Excerpt from Gordon Sykes 1989 statement

Excerpt from Gordon Sykes' 1989 statement

Police lied about Liverpool football fans in the wake of the Hillsborough football disaster, an inquest has heard.

Former officers gave evidence to inquests into the deaths of 96 fans who died after a crush at the Sheffield stadium in 1989. 

South Yorkshire Police inspector Gordon Sykes was on duty at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster. 

He admitted that stories about fans stealing possessions from ten dead supporters were “false”.

He accepted that a police claim that one dead fan had “numerous wallets” was wrong too. 

Police officers had made the claims to Sheffield news agency White’s, which the Sun newspaper repeated on its front page.

But while Sykes expressed regret, he denied that police had deliberately spread lies to “denigrate” Liverpool fans.

He said that South Yorkshire police chief constable Peter Wright told a Police Federation meeting four days after the deaths, “If anybody should be blamed, it should be the drunken, ticketless individuals”.

Sykes admitted that Wright wanted to put that position to an inquiry by Lord Justice Taylor.

He further described a meeting of officers in October 1989, which aimed to rebutt Lord Taylor’s interim report.

Published in August 1989, it rejected the claim that drunk fans caused the disaster.

Tory MP Michael Shersby and then chief inspector Norman Bettison were also at the meeting.

The inquests continue.

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